Consultation on new Rules for handling Large Group Complaints by students

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is currently consulting on its proposed new Rules for handling what it calls Large Group Complaints by students.

The OIA says that these Rules have been developed following its experience of dealing with complaints arising from the industrial action in 2018/19 and from the closure of a provider, GSM London. The current context of the unprecedented disruption to higher education caused by the global pandemic is front and centre in the OIA’s justification for bringing these new Rules forward. The consultation closes on 30 November 2020.

The draft Rules say that the OIA may “at any stage” in the process identify what it considers to be a “reasonable resolution” and may make Recommendations accordingly. It is unclear to what extent individual circumstances will be considered.

It will be for the OIA to decide if complaints will be considered as part of a Large Group Complaint. A definition is given of a Large Group Complaint, namely “a complaint or series of complaints that we can review under these Rules, brought by a significant number of students at a provider about the same event/s or issue/s”.

The draft Rules say that the OIA may:

  • decide to include a complaint even though a student has not made a complaint to a higher education provider;
  • set a deadline for any complaints to be made to the OIA in respect of a Large Group Complaint;
  • decide what information and documents are to be considered as part of the process.

Higher education providers are expected to support the OIA in the administration of a Large Group Complaint.

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