Good practice framework


The Good Practice Framework: handling student complaints and academic appeals was first published in December 2014, following extensive consultation with the sector, and came into effect in September 2015. It is a guide to handling complaints and academic appeals in higher education in England and Wales. It sets out principles and operational good practice but does not include prescriptive detail.

The framework complements the “expectations” and “indicators” set out in Chapter B9 of the UK Quality Code.[1] It is rooted in the OIA’s experience over ten years in dealing with student complaints and appeals, and in discussing practice with providers, students’ unions and student complainants. The result is a framework that is informed by the day to day experiences of providers and students and that will underpin effective handling of complaints and academic appeals. It is kept under continuous review and updated as new issues arise or to provide further clarification.

This second edition updates and revises the framework to take account of feedback from Scheme users, gathered through workshops and webinars, and from the OIA’s experience of how it has worked in practice. It reflects the views of providers which became members of the OIA during 2015 and bring a helpful additional perspective. The principles and the core guidance remain unchanged.

The framework informs the way the OIA considers complaints and academic appeals from students. It is not intended to be an exact template for dealing with every complaint and academic appeal. Each provider remains free to draft its own policies and procedures to fit its own size and context. Where a provider chooses to depart from the framework, the OIA will consider whether the process it follows is reasonable when it reviews individual complaints.

In due course further guidance will be published on specific issues including delivering learning opportunities with others, supporting students with disabilities, and disciplinary procedures.

The creation and development of the framework is overseen by a steering group, led by the OIA. The group has provided sound counsel, excellent leadership and determination throughout and I pay tribute to its members, past and present – my predecessor Rob Behrens, Huw Morris and Alison Wells (ARC), Sophie Bowen (AHUA), Tim Burton and Gemma Long (QAA), Bethan Dudas (NUS), Derek Boyle, Bromley Schools’ Collegiate,  Helen Kinghorne, Warwickshire College Group and OIA staff members.

Judy Clements OBE

The Independent Adjudicator and Chief Executive, Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education

December 2016


(1) QAA, UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B9: Academic appeals and student complaints (April 2013)

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