12As the designated alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body for higher education under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015, we are required to allow students 12 months to bring their complaint to us. This period begins when the provider issues a Completion of Procedures Letter. Under our usual Rules, even if a student could bring their complaint sooner as an individual or as part of a group, any student with a Completion of Procedures Letter has the right to wait until the end of this period to bring a complaint to us. The additional Rules do not alter this.
13We encourage all students who would like to bring their complaint to us to do so as soon as possible. In general, where large groups of students are dissatisfied with how a provider has responded to the issue of complaint, it is likely to be beneficial to all parties to try to resolve the matter promptly. This is particularly important where the complaint could be resolved by practical measures being put in place, especially for continuing students.
14If we decide that the Large Group Complaints process is likely to be suitable, having discussed the circumstances with the provider and the students who have contacted us, we will set a timeframe for students to submit a complaint as part of the Large Group. This will help us to establish whether the number of similar complaints is likely to constitute a Large Group, and can be considered together. The timeframe we set will not be less than four weeks.
15We will decide on a case-by-case basis whether any complaints received from students after this timeframe but before the expiry of the 12 month deadline should be joined to a Large Group Complaint, whether they should be considered as an individual complaint, or whether the complaint is not something we can look at under our Rules. Students and providers can tell us if they think a complaint should or should not be part of a Large Group. We will not consider the same complaint from an individual student under the Large Group Complaints process and under our usual Rules.
16Under our usual Rules, some students who complain to us about the same issue may do so at different times. Where students could have been considered as a small group but for the timing of their complaints, they usually receive very similar outcomes from us. In the same way, students who bring eligible complaints to us after the deadline we have set for the Large Group Complaint, but which could have been considered as part of that Group, are likely to receive the same outcome, and same fair remedy, to their complaint as the Group received. Where a complaint has been upheld, or the provider has made an offer to settle a Large Group Complaint, it may be fair for providers to extend the offer to other students affected by the same issue even if they have not made a complaint to the provider or to us. This is likely to be reasonable where the provider has not delivered a service, or where students in a particular cohort or group have not been treated fairly.