We are grateful to everyone who gives us feedback, on any aspect of our work. On this page you can read more about feedback we have had (mainly from students) about our case-handling, and how we have used it. Feedback helps us understand how people feel about their experience of using our service, and helps us improve it. This may be by making a specific change, or by contributing to wider development of our service. Examples of changes we have made include:
- Changing wording of some guidance when a student's feedback showed it wasn't clear
- Introducing a designated person who students can tell about their disability if they prefer not to tell their case-handler
- Giving students a clearer idea of the likely timescale for dealing with their complaint
- Introducing more opportunities for students to talk to us over the phone about their complaint
Themes in the feedback
Many students are positive about their experience of bringing a complaint to us:
- "Everything was really good, and I feel great about the OIA and its review process!"
- "I would not change the way OIA works and encourage OIA to keep up the good work to support the university students who had to go through what I went through during my degree. Thank you and your team for the service you provided to me."
- "Regardless of the outcome which as stated in your report is disappointing for me, I would like to thank you for reviewing the case in detail and being very proactive/welcoming throughout the process to information I have provided."
Students also express concerns in the feedback they give us. Some are about things which we are continuing to work on improving, and we will keep doing this as they are clearly important to students.
"It's far too slow."
Students tell us that they would like our process to be faster. We understand that it is important to students to have an outcome to their complaint as early as possible, and that they may have already been through a long process in their provider. We are always working to try to deal with cases as efficiently as we can. If we think it may be possible to resolve a case by reaching agreement on a settlement, we will try to do that at an early stage. We close around three quarters of cases within six months of receiving them, but some cases, particularly if they are complex complaints, do take longer.
"[Improve the] communication process!"
Many of the things that students say in their feedback to us relate to communication. A majority feel that we are polite and treat them with respect, but some feel we could do more to communicate effectively. This might be about having more opportunity to talk to us on the phone, or about understanding how a complaint will be dealt with. It can be about being kept informed, or whether we have explained our decision clearly. We try to communicate with students in a way that supports them through our casework process as effectively as possible, and we will keep working on this. People have their own preferences in terms of how much contact they like and in what way, so we encourage students to tell us if there is something we could do differently that they would find more helpful. We also encourage students to contact their case-handler if they have questions about our process, or if they think we don't understand their complaint.
"You should stand on the students' side."
Students are sometimes unhappy that we have not put ourselves in their position, or helped them to make their case. But it is not our role to do that - we must be impartial and review cases independently. We can't be on the side of either the student or the higher education provider. Students are also sometimes concerned that we are biased towards higher education providers, and sometimes providers tell us we have been too favourable towards the student. We want to reassure anyone who is concerned about this that we review cases impartially.
"OIA cannot conduct its own 'real' investigation."
Some students would like us to investigate complaints ourselves, including complaints that the provider has not already looked at. As we are a review body, our role is look at how the provider has dealt with a complaint and whether the outcome was fair to the student, so we don't conduct investigations and we normally expect the student to have been through the provider's internal procedures before they come to us.
Our What you can expect from us page gives more information about our role and what we can and can't do.
We will continue to listen to and learn from feedback as part of our commitment to continually improving what we do. We welcome your feedback at any time.