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Industrial action - CS051901
Case summary May 2019 | Not Eligible
A student complained to us, through their solicitor, that 31 lectures/tutorials had been cancelled due to industrial action during the first year of their undergraduate degree. The student requested compensation for lost teaching time.
The student told us that they hadn’t completed the provider’s internal complaints procedure because, despite calling the provider on several occasions, they were not directed to the complaints process. They said that the provider’s staff didn’t know what the appropriate procedures were and that they were instead directed to the students’ union.
The provider told us that the first indication it had of the student’s complaint was a pre-action letter from the student’s solicitor, several months after the industrial action. The provider responded to the solicitor explaining that the student had not complained through its internal procedures, but that it would accept a complaint from the student even though the deadline for making a complaint had passed. The solicitor did not respond to the provider and instead submitted the student’s complaint to us.
We decided the complaint was Not Eligible.
The Rules of our Scheme say that we will not review a complaint unless the provider has had the opportunity to look at it first. This means that normally the student needs to have completed the provider’s internal processes before complaining to us. In exceptional circumstances we may decide to review a complaint when the student has not completed the higher education provider’s internal processes.
In this case, the provider had given students information about the industrial action and how to raise concerns about it using its complaints and appeals procedures. The student didn’t have any evidence to show that they had tried to make a complaint. The provider had offered to consider the student’s complaint even though the complaint was late, but the student chose not to take up this offer. So, we decided there were no exceptional circumstances, and that we shouldn’t review the complaint.