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Recent High Court Judgment

A recent high court judgment provided useful guidance for students and providers where the student wishes to preserve their rights to bring legal proceedings (usually judicial review proceedings) against the provider. Mr Justice Hickinbottom concluded that the OIA, as an ADR body, has a different function to the Court and therefore recourse to the OIA does not prevent a student from bringing a JR claim against their provider. Students should not lose their right to bring a JR claim because the OIA has considered their complaint. However, the court will give deference to the OIA’s conclusions; the degree of deference will depend on the nature of the claim. The Judge said:

“Where there is an available ADR procedure - especially when it is provided by Parliament - the interests of the public body and citizen in having a more attractive procedure and, very importantly, the public interest in resolving claims outside the court system where possible, will be of such weight that the balance of interests will be in favour of giving a proper opportunity for the dispute to be resolved, in whole or in part, by the alternative procedure …

Consequently, where there is such a complaints procedure as provided by the 2004 Act through the OIA, the court should be slow to become engaged with issues arising out of the same subject matter, unless and until that procedure has been given reasonable time and opportunity to run to a conclusion: and, where either a claimant or a defendant (or both) wish to progress court proceedings before then, they must provide the court with good reasons for doing so.

The judge went on to say that it should not be necessary for students to issue proceedings against the provider in order to protect their position in relation to the three month deadline for bringing JR proceedings: the court would normally grant an extension to the deadline provided the student had brought their complaint to the OIA promptly and then issued their legal proceedings promptly.

The Judge said that providers “should consider indicating, in any Completion of Procedures Letter, that, although the [OIA’s] Rules prescribe a twelve month period, if the student wishes to maintain his or her right to judicially review the relevant HEI decision, then it would be advisable to notify the HEI as soon as possible and make a reference to the OIA within three months, to avoid a contention that any subsequent [JR proceedings against the provider] are too late.”

Download the judgement

New Chair of the OIA Board

The OIA is delighted to announce that Dame Suzi Leather has been appointed to succeed Ram Gidoomal as Chair of the OIA. Dame Suzi will take up her role on 1 October 2016.

Annual Letters 2015

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) has today (13 July) published its annual letters to higher education providers. The letters are addressed to all providers that were members of the OIA Scheme throughout 2015.

OIA Annual Report 2015

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, has today (9 June 2016) published it's OIA Annual Report for 2015. The report details:

  • The changes in OIA membership following new legislation, the Consumer Rights Act 2015, that extended its remit to cover students at more than 500 additional higher education providers. These include further education colleges and sixth form colleges for their higher education students, alternative providers and providers of School Centred Initial Teacher Training.
  • The OIA’s record of complaint handling over the year.
  • Examples of the complaints student make to the OIA, and the recommendations the OIA makes when it finds complaints Justified or Partly Justified.
  • Changes in the regulatory and legislative environment and what these mean for complaints handling in higher education.

Response to the Higher Education White Paper

The OIA has published its response to the Higher Education White Paper.

To view older News and Press Releases by the OIA, please go to the News Archive.

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New Chair of the OIA Board