OIA publishes revised draft OIA Rules for Large Group Complaints for comment

The OIA has published revised draft Rules for Large Group Complaints for further comment following consultation last year.

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In recent years there have been events affecting the higher education sector that have had the potential to lead to large numbers of complaints to us, including the impact of Covid-19 and the unprecedented disruption it continues to cause. While such events don’t necessarily lead to large groups of students complaining to us, it’s important that we are properly prepared and that we can handle large group complaints in a way that works for everyone involved.

Our proposed Large Group Complaints process builds on our existing approach to group complaints by developing a bespoke approach to handling complaints from large groups of students. The proposed process is intended to be used for complaints from a large group of students at a single provider where there is a high degree of commonality between the complaints and where the complaints could be considered collectively.

Although the process we are proposing would be more streamlined than our current process for group complaints, our approach to decision making would be the same: we would still consider what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

The proposed process would require an amendment to our existing Rules and additional Rules for Large Group Complaints. We consulted on these in November 2020, and we have revised the draft Rules for Large Group Complaints and provided further information about the proposed process in response to the feedback we received. We are now inviting further comment.

Felicity Mitchell, Independent Adjudicator said:

“The aim of our proposed Large Group Complaints process is to ensure that, if a large group of students were to complain to us, we can handle their complaint efficiently as well as fairly. We hope the revisions and further explanations address concerns raised and provide additional reassurance about our proposals. We are grateful to everyone who responded to the initial consultation and we welcome further comments.”


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Sarah Liddell, Head of Leadership Office, mediarelations@oiahe.org.uk, 0118 959 9813.

  1. We have published the draft revised Rules and further information about the proposed Large Group Complaints process on our website. Comments on the proposed additional Rules are invited by 12 March 2021 (see website for details).
  2. 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.
  3. Our Scheme is free to students, and has been designed to be accessible to all students, without the need for legal representation.
  4. We have a wide remit to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales, as set out in our Scheme Rules.
  5. In 2020 we received 2,604 complaints. Complaints to us have risen steadily over the last few years.
  6. The proposed process for Large Group Complaints is part of our ongoing work to continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our service, and would help us to be prepared for any large group complaint that might reach us.
  7. The government noted our proposed Large Group Complaints process in its response to the Petitions Committee’s report on the impact of Covid-19 on university students.
  8. You can find further information about the Scheme and our work at www.oiahe.org.uk.