Can we look at the complaint?

  • Our Rules explain what we can and can't review.
  • It is up to us, and not the provider, to decide whether a case is eligible for review. If it is not clear to you as the student’s rep, please either call us or submit the complaint and let us decide.

What is the complaint about?

  • It sounds obvious, but it’s helpful to know exactly why the student is complaining and what they want done about it.
  • Setting it out clearly and succinctly can help speed up the review process.
  • Bullet points setting out events in chronological order can be helpful.
  • Explain why the provider’s final decision was unreasonable.
  • Also look at the procedures – were there any delays, actions or procedural errors that disadvantaged the student?

Evidence and supporting information

  • We only need the completed Complaint Form (signed by the student), the final decision and the COP letter.
  • We’ll ask the provider for everything that was key to its decision.
  • We may consider new evidence from a student, but normally only if there is a good reason why it could not be provided with the complaint to the provider.


  • Requests for large amounts of financial compensation – our guidance on how we can put things right has helpful information about the types of remedies we can offer and, if we recommend financial compensation, about the amount of compensation we will normally offer for distress and inconvenience.
  • We can’t look at academic judgment, but we can refer a case back to a provider where we see errors in the way these matters were considered.
  • It’s helpful to explain to students that the time we take to consider a complaint can vary, depending on the complexity of the case.

Communication – with the student

  • Please remember to keep the student informed throughout the process.

Communication – with us

  • Talk to us - our staff are very happy to discuss our processes with representatives.
  • Pick up the phone - while we don’t normally discuss individual complaints (unless we are speaking with the student’s representative), we can discuss case scenarios.
  • While we can’t give advice on what steps to take once we’ve issued a decision, you can find information about some of the options available to students on our website.

Communication – with the provider

  • Complaints can be a learning tool - talk to the provider and exchange information relating to any trends, concerns or emerging themes you’re seeing in your day-to-day work advising and guiding students.
  • Ask your provider to share information - this could include suitably redacted copies of our Complaint Outcomes; any areas they are concerned about or patterns of issues they’re seeing.
  • Work with your provider to review procedures, regulations and guidance.

Get in touch:

Call: 0118 959 9813 | Email: | Twitter: @oiahe