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Disabled student - CS052409

A student with an autistic spectrum condition and a physical disability was studying a course in the performing arts at one provider (provider A) leading to the award of another provider (provider B).

During their second year, the student raised concerns with provider A about a lack of support and said they were unsure if they could continue on the course. After informal discussions did not resolve their concerns, the student made a formal complaint to provider A. Provider A acknowledged some serious shortcomings in its communication with the student due to staff changes, but rejected the complaint overall. It referred the student to provider B’s Complaints Policy. Provider B told the student that it did not have any remit to review the complaint because it was not about the quality and academic standards of the course. The student then received a Completion of Procedures Letter from provider A and complained to us.

We upheld the student’s complaint (we decided it was Justified). There had been a failure to explore what the student’s specific needs were in the context of the course, and to identify and put in place support or reasonable adjustments. There had been confusion about whether students should seek this support from provider A or provider B, and about what kinds of complaints could be referred to provider B. Provider A had acknowledged some significant areas for improvement and had taken steps to improve some policies and to deliver staff training. In spite of this, it had rejected the complaint in full and missed an opportunity to put things right for the individual student. The student had lost faith in the provider and withdrew from the course.

We recommended that provider A should apologise to the student and pay them compensation of £5,000. We also made Recommendations to provider A about the operation of its complaints procedures drawing on the guidance in our Good Practice Framework.