1.This is the third edition of the Good Practice Framework: Handling complaints and academic appeals, published in December 2022. It builds on earlier editions, drawing on good practice we have identified through our casework and wider work with students, student representative bodies, and providers. It also draws on the expertise of people in a range of bodies in further and higher education and in complaints resolution and ombuds bodies who have responded to our consultation and contributed to the further development of the Framework.
2.The membership of our Scheme is large and diverse. Members deliver a range of courses and qualifications to students, trainees and apprentices, who engage with their learning in a variety of different formats. In the Framework we use the term "provider" to refer to any member of our Scheme, and the term “student” to refer to students, trainees and apprentices.
3.The Framework is intended to support providers to develop and follow fair processes, and to be a tool to help any provider to evaluate their own processes. It can also be a useful resource for students and those who advise them as guidance on what good complaints and appeals processes should look like.
4.The Framework sets out guidance to help providers approach complaints and academic appeals fairly and make their processes easy to understand and follow. Providers’ policies and procedures will vary depending on their own academic regulations and broader context, including the size and make-up of the student body, but should be consistent with the Framework. The Framework informs how we consider complaints to us.
5.The Competition and Markets Authority has indicated that procedures are more likely to comply with consumer law if they follow guidelines published by the OIA or the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. We recommend that each provider, along with its students, compares its own complaints and academic appeals processes to the Framework to be sure that there are sound reasons for any differences.
6.We have identified ten core principles for the development and operation of effective procedures.
Good procedures are:
- Accessible and clear
- Fair, independent and confidential
- Flexible, proportionate and timely,
- Improve the student experience.
These principles underpin the Framework.