46There are a number of situations in which we may terminate or suspend consideration of a complaint. This can be at any stage of the review process.
46.1Sometimes it becomes apparent only during the course of a review that a complaint (or part of a complaint) is not something we can look at. For example, it becomes clear that the complaint is about an admissions issue, or relates to a matter of academic judgment, or the student has issued legal proceedings against the higher education provider. In those cases we may need to terminate the review.
46.2Where the higher education provider has offered the student the remedy they were asking for, we may decide that that the provider has satisfactorily dealt with the complaint, even though the student may not be happy with the provider’s conclusions on the main issues raised.
46.3We encourage higher education providers to try to settle complaints whenever possible (paragraph 39). Where we decide that the higher education provider has made a reasonable offer to settle the complaint and the student has refused it, we may ask the provider to repeat the offer or hold it open for a reasonable period of time.
46.4Sometimes in the course of our review, a higher education provider makes an offer to reconsider the matter under its procedures and we decide that is what our recommendation is likely to be if we were to find the complaint to be Justified. In that case, we might decide to terminate our review of the complaint. When the higher education provider has reconsidered the matter, it should issue another Completion of Procedures Letter. If the student is still unhappy after the provider has reconsidered the matter, they can complain to us about the outcome of that process.
46.5We may terminate or suspend our review of a complaint if the student or their appointed representative does not provide information requested by us within a reasonable time, or causes unreasonable delays to our review.
46.6We will terminate our review if the student does not respond to our correspondence. We will warn the student before we terminate the review. If we close a complaint in these circumstances, we will consider reopening it if the student later asks us to do so and can provide a good reason why they did not keep in touch with us.
46.7Our policy on behaviour can be found on our website. The policy sets out the kinds of actions and behaviour that may have a negative effect on our staff or our work, and what we will do in these circumstances. The policy applies to everyone who interacts or communicates with the OIA, including students, their representatives and higher education providers. If a student or their representative continues to behave in a way which is affecting our staff or our work, we may decide to have no further contact with them, which may mean that we terminate our review of the complaint.
46.8Where we terminate the complaint because of something the student’s representative has done or not done, we will tell the student. We will consider reopening our review if the student decides to deal with the complaint in person, or to appoint another representative.
46.9We normally use email to contact students and higher education providers. It is important for the student to keep in touch with us and to let us know if they change their contact details. We will try to contact the student by email, post and telephone before deciding to suspend or terminate our review. We will terminate our review if our correspondence to the student is returned to us by the Post Office and we are unable to contact the student by other means.
46.10Very rarely, a student’s representative will act in a way that is not in the student’s best interests, or will mislead us or the student. For example, the representative might refuse to put forward an offer which the provider has made to the student; or the representative appears to be following their own agenda rather than presenting the student’s complaint. That will make it difficult or impossible for us to review the complaint. If we decide to suspend or terminate our review on these grounds, we will consider reopening our review if the student decides to deal with the complaint in person, or to appoint another representative.
Reconsidering our decision to suspend or terminate the review (Rule 16)
47If we decide to terminate or suspend our review and the student thinks we have made the wrong decision, they may ask us to reconsider our decision. The student should contact the case-handler within 14 days explaining why they disagree with our decision.
The decision to suspend or terminate the review will then be considered by a different reviewer. The reviewer will write to the student and the higher education provider setting out their decision and the reasons for it.
Withdrawing the complaint (Rule 16)
48If the student decides that they no longer wish to pursue their complaint they may withdraw their complaint at any time. The student can withdraw their complaint by writing to us, by email, or by phone. We will write to the student and to the higher education provider to confirm that we have closed our file because the student has withdrawn the complaint.