In recent years there have been various events affecting the higher education sector that have had the potential to lead to large numbers of complaints to us. We developed our approach in response to the industrial action in 2018-19 and to the closure of GSM London, streamlining our processes to enable us to manage the complaints effectively and efficiently.
Our proposed Large Group Complaints process builds on this and on our existing approach to group complaints and draws on our learning from handling these complaints. The proposed process is intended for complaints from a large group of students at a single provider where there is a high degree of commonality between the complaints and where the complaints could be considered collectively. The proposed Rules would enable us to adapt our normal review process so that we can handle such complaints efficiently whilst maintaining fairness.
Although the process we are proposing would be more streamlined than our current process for group complaints, our approach to decision making would be the same: we would still consider what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
As with any significant process change that we put in place, we would need to make sure that it works fairly and effectively, and fulfils its intended purpose. We would undertake to review any process that we put in place to manage Large Group Complaints after the first year of operation.
Consultation responses received and opportunity for further comment
We published a first draft of Rules for a Large Group Complaints process for consultation towards the end of last year.
We are grateful to all those who took the time and trouble to respond to this consultation despite the many other pressures everyone is under. We received 71 responses, mostly from higher education providers and organisations representing providers, and from student organisations.
A number of responses expressed broad support for a process that would enable the resolution of complaints from large groups of students in an efficient and timely way. But the responses also raised concerns about the detail of how the process behind the new Rules would work, and how we would ensure that the process is fair.
We have considered the responses carefully. We have made some changes to the proposed Rules to address some of the concerns and added some explanatory notes, and we set out in our consultation response more detail of how we envisage the process would work, which we hope will provide reassurance on many of the concerns raised.
We now invite providers, student representative bodies, students, sector bodies and anyone else with an interest in the proposed process to let us know any outstanding or new concerns, or any further comments, using our form. If you have any difficulty using the form, you can email your comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for comments is Friday 12 March 2021.
If you have any outstanding or new concerns, or any further comments, please let us know using our response form. If you have any difficulty using the form, you can email your comments to us at email@example.com.
The deadline for comments is Friday 12 March 2021.