24Our approach to reaching a decision on a Large Group Complaint is the same as for any other complaint. In deciding whether a complaint is Justified or Partly Justified, we look at whether the provider properly applied its regulations and followed its procedures, whether the procedures themselves were reasonable and whether the provider’s decision was reasonable in all the circumstances. Where applicable we take into account relevant law and guidance, such as consumer law and Competition and Markets Authority guidance. Our role is to decide whether the provider has acted reasonably and whether students have been treated fairly, which is broader than whether a provider has met its legal obligations. We make a decision about whether a provider has followed what we consider to be good practice, having regard to relevant sector guidance and our own experience of handling complaints.
25Additional Rules 10 and 11 change the way we issue our decision under Rules 13 and 14. Rule 13.1 says, “When we decide that we have all the information and evidence that we need to make a decision we will prepare and issue a Complaint Outcome.” Under the Large Group Complaints process, we still make our decision once we have all the information and evidence that we need, and we tell the provider and the students about that decision and any Recommendations we are making. But we make a decision relating to the whole Group, not individual decisions for each student. Rather than sending the decision out to each student, we may give the students in the Large Group and the provider access to a document or a recording setting out the decision.
26We have a wide discretion in deciding on the sort of Recommendations to make when we decide that a complaint is Justified or Partly Justified. Our usual approach to making Recommendations is set out in our guidance Putting things right. We will apply the same principles to Large Group Complaints. We can make Recommendations that a provider should do something that benefits an individual student or group of students – that might be a practical or financial remedy – and/or that it should do something to change or improve its policies or practices.
27When we are considering the complaint, we will discuss a suitable remedy with the students and the provider before we make any Recommendations. When we intend to make practical Recommendations, for example, that the provider allows students to repeat part of their course, we will ask the students and the provider for their comments before we make our Recommendations.
28We recognise that it would not be beneficial to either party, nor an efficient way to resolve complaints, if we made Recommendations that weren’t practical. But it’s not always possible to find a remedy that everyone agrees with and we will make the final decision on Recommendations in the same way as we do for other complaints.