OIA publishes case summaries of complaints relating to accommodation

We have today published some case summaries of complaints relating to student accommodation that is owned or managed by higher education providers. The summaries illustrate the kinds of issues raised in complaints to us.

Case summaries
Image of an accommodation building with different colour windows surrounded by trees

We only receive a fairly small number of complaints relating to accommodation each year, but we see in those complaints that the impact on students of problems with their accommodation can be high. Although we have not to date seen the increasing challenges around the availability and cost of student accommodation fully reflected in complaints to us, in part because students can’t complain to us about private rented accommodation, those challenges are likely to have a significant effect on some students’ experience of higher education. 

The case summaries show that students are not always clear about what they have signed up to, or about how to formally raise issues when they have concerns. It is important that providers’ information for students is as clear and easily accessible as possible, keeping in mind that for some students it is the first time they have lived independently away from home, or lived in a different country.  

Sometimes the issues raised in complaints are about the accommodation itself, and sometimes they involve the student’s behaviour or that of other students in the accommodation. It’s important that the provider investigates the issues, considers the impact on those involved and takes steps to minimise it, and keeps the student informed. We have seen examples of providers taking a flexible and positive approach to accommodation issues as well as cases where issues have not been handled as well as they could have been. 

We encourage early resolution of complaints where possible. In some of the cases we have seen, the provider recognised issues either during its internal processes or in the early stages of the student’s complaint to us and made an offer to the student to put things right. Sometimes complaints to us are settled in this way. Where the student doesn’t accept what we consider to be a reasonable offer, the complaint to us will usually be Not Justified on the basis that a reasonable offer has been made, and the case summaries include some cases with this outcome.  

We hope the case summaries will be helpful to providers, student representative bodies and students. 


Notes to Editors 

For further information please contact Jenn Runde, Communications Officer, mediarelations@oiahe.org.uk, 0118 959 9813. 

  1. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is the independent student complaints ombuds service for higher education in England and Wales. It is the designated operator of the student complaints’ scheme under the Higher Education Act 2004. 
  2. Our Scheme is free to students and has been designed to be accessible to all students, without the need for legal representation. 
  3. We have a wide remit to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales, as set out in our Scheme Rules. 
  4. We publish case summaries as part of our wider work to share learning from complaints and provide good practice guidance, including our Good Practice Framework. 
  5. You can find further information about the Scheme and our work at https://www.oiahe.org.uk/.