Themes from the OIA annual report 2021

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) has recently published its annual report.  The content is perhaps not particularly surprising for those dealing regularly with student complaints in HE.  Some key themes are:

  • Complaints relating (at least in part) to the impact of coronavirus constituted 37% of complaints.  The OIA highlights particularly the impact on access to laboratories, changes to planned projects, and the impact on placements and study abroad. 
  • International students are over-represented amongst complainants, along with PhD or other post graduate students.  The report suggests that this may well relate to the additional pressure on that group of students, given the significant personal and financial investment they, or in relation to finance their sponsors, are making.
  • Group complaints have increased and constituted 9% of those dealt with by the OIA in 2020-2021, however the positive news it that those are more likely to settle.  The OIA notes “In some cases we were able to settle a group complaint that the provider had tried to settle but not been able to, perhaps because our fresh and independent perspective helped those involved to come to an agreement that hadn’t previously been possible.”
  • The OIA notes “The number of complaints relating to sexual misconduct remained small but has risen slightly in recent years.”

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