4Providers should issue a COP Letter at the end of complaints, academic appeals, academic and non-academic disciplinary procedures, fitness to practise procedures, fitness to study procedures, harassment and bullying procedures: in fact, at any point where the student has reached the end of the line and there are no further steps that they can take internally.
4.1Complaint or appeal not upheld
The provider should issue a COP Letter automatically at the end of the internal process, that is, when the provider issues its final decision. Students should not have to request a COP letter.
4.2Complaint or appeal upheld or partly upheld
If the complaint or appeal is upheld, or partly upheld, the provider should tell the student that they can ask for a COP Letter if they want one. The provider may set a deadline of not less than one month for the student to make this request. If the student requests a COP Letter within the deadline set by the provider, it should issue one straightaway.
If the student makes a request after the deadline has passed, then the provider should issue a COP Letter that states the date upon which the final decision was reached on the complaint or appeal. The time for bringing the complaint to us will normally run from that date, rather than the date of the COP Letter.
4.3Complaints that are about more than one issue
Students may have to follow two sets of procedures where the matters are not related. For example, if a student has a complaint about student accommodation, and is also subject to Fitness to Practise procedures, this should result in two COP Letters.
If the student raises concerns during an academic appeal that ought to have been raised under the provider’s complaints procedure then it may be necessary to follow both processes and to issue a COP letter at the end of each one.
If a student has a complaint about how the provider handled their complaint or appeal, for example a complaint about delay, they should not then have to make a separate complaint under the provider’s complaints procedure before being issued with a COP Letter.
4.4Outstanding matters under the same procedures
A COP Letter should not be issued while there are still outstanding matters under the same procedure for the provider to consider, for example, where an examination board is to reconsider the student’s results following a successful appeal.
4.5There is no procedure to cover the complaint raised
Occasionally a student may complain about a matter for which the provider has no published procedures. In such cases, the provider should issue a COP, explaining how it has dealt with the complaint.
4.6Complaints and appeals arising from courses involving more than one provider or an external awarding body
Please see section 14 of this guidance.
4.7Complaints or appeals arising from events that happened before the provider became a member of the OIA Scheme
If a student makes a complaint about events that happened before the provider became a member of our Scheme, a COP Letter should be issued setting out a brief history of the complaint, including the date when the provider became a member. We will decide whether any part of the complaint can be considered under our Rules.
4.8Complaints that may not be eligible under our Rules
A provider should issue a COP Letter even if it believes that we will not be able to review the complaint; for example, because it considers that the complaint relates to academic judgment or is about a student employment matter. This is because it is for us to decide whether a complaint is eligible under our Rules. However, it is helpful if the provider explains in the COP Letter why it thinks the complaint may not be eligible, whilst making it clear that we will decide this.
COP Letters should still be issued where the student is no longer registered at the provider as our Scheme covers former students. The provider should say in the COP Letter if it thinks the student has raised the complaint too late or if there are other reasons why we may not be able to look at it.
4.9The provider is a transitional institution
A provider that stops being a “qualifying institution” will be known as a “transitional institution” and will continue to be a member for a period of 12 months after it stopped being a qualifying institution. The 12 month period runs from the day on which the provider stops being a qualifying institution. For example, a higher education provider which stops being a qualifying institution on 1 January 2019, will carry on being a member of the OIA until 31 December 2020.
We cannot look at a complaint about a transitional institution unless the complaint relates to events that occurred before the provider became a transitional institution. So, in the example above, we could only review complaints about events which took place before 1 January 2019. Providers in this position should continue to issue COP Letters and use the last date of membership (31 December 2020 in the example above) as the deadline for a student to bring a complaint to us. Students should be alerted to the deadline and encouraged to bring complaints to us as soon as possible.