14This section explains which provider should issue a Completion of Procedures Letter (COP Letter) when more than one provider is involved in considering a complaint or appeal. There is also guidance on what to include in COP Letters issued to students who are studying for a qualification that is awarded by an awarding body that is not a member of the OIA Scheme.
For a more detailed discussion about handling complaints and academic appeals in this context, including transnational arrangements, please refer to the Good Practice Framework: handling student complaints and academic appeals – delivering learning opportunities with others.
Where a provider is issuing a COP Letter to a student studying at another provider, it is particularly important for the COP Letter to refer to the regulations under which the student’s complaint or appeal was considered, setting out clearly what the provider considered at the final stage, as well as the issues addressed by the other provider.
It is also helpful for the COP Letter to refer to the agreement between the providers that sets out the responsibilities of each of them. This helps us to focus our review on what the provider looked at (or should have looked at), rather than underlying issues that may be the responsibility of another provider.
1Joint and dual awards: two or more member providers collaborate to teach a programme of study leading to one joint award, double or multiple, or dual awards
In these arrangements, the partners decide between themselves how to handle internal procedures. The agreement between the providers should set out which provider is responsible for overseeing these procedures. That provider should issue the COP Letter at the end of the relevant procedure enabling the student to complain to the OIA should they wish to do so.
2A student is studying at a member provider for a qualification that is awarded by another body
Where the awarding body is a member of the Scheme
Students may be studying at one provider (the ‘delivery provider’) for an award made by another provider (the ‘awarding provider’). Where both the delivery provider and awarding provider are members of our Scheme, the student may be able to complain about acts or omissions of either or both of them.
The same applies if the student is studying at more than one delivery provider, or the award is made by more than one awarding provider.
The agreement between the providers should set out the obligations and responsibilities of each provider, including for handling student complaints and academic appeals and other procedures. We will take a pragmatic approach in reviewing complaints involving more than one member provider and will deal with them on a case by case basis.
The basic principles which apply are:
- Where the awarding provider is responsible for the final stage of the process, an internal procedure has only been completed for our purposes once the awarding provider has considered the complaint or appeal.
- The awarding provider should conduct the final review stage of academic appeals and should issue the COP Letter at the end of that academic appeals process.
- Where the complaint relates to the academic standards and/or quality of the learning opportunity, the awarding provider should deal with the review stage of the complaints procedure and should issue the COP Letter at the end of that complaints process.
- Where the delivery provider manages the learning opportunity on a day-to-day basis, it is good practice for it to handle complaints arising from those day-to-day matters which are within its control. It should issue the COP Letter at the end of that complaints process as the student will not be able to complain to the awarding provider.
Where the awarding body is not a member of the OIA Scheme
Students may be studying at a member provider for a qualification awarded by an external awarding body which is not a member of our Scheme; for example, an HNC or HND awarded by Pearson (Edexcel).
The member provider should issue a COP Letter to a student on this type of course at the end of any internal procedure, in the usual way. (NOTE: Students can only complain about some providers if they are on a higher education course. These providers are identified on our list of members).
If the student then complains to us, we will decide whether the complaint relates to: (1) an act or omission of the member provider relating to the service provided which falls within our remit; or (2) the overall quality or standards of the qualification itself. We will normally forward complaints falling into category (2) to the relevant awarding body.
Our template COP Letter for students studying on this type of course provides some explanatory text which should be included. Further information can also be found in The Good Practice Framework: handling student complaints and academic appeals – delivering learning opportunities with others.
3A student is studying at a provider (the delivery provider) that is not a member of the OIA Scheme, undertaking a course of study or programme of research which leads to one of a member provider’s awards.
We expect the agreement between the delivery provider and the awarding member provider to set out the responsibilities of each provider. Arrangements will vary, but the awarding member provider would normally be responsible for the final stage in the academic appeals process. It is likely to be responsible for complaints relating to academic standards and may also accept complaints about other issues. Depending on the nature of the agreement, the awarding member provider may be responsible for all aspects of course delivery.
The agreement should set out the circumstances in which a student can escalate their complaint or appeal to the awarding member provider for consideration. The awarding member provider should issue a COP Letter at the end of any case which it has considered.