In 2020 the university watchdog received 2,604 complaints, 10% more than in 2019. Of these, 43% were concerned with service issues, including facilities, teaching time and academic supervision. The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic contributed to 12% of complaints. But how do you complain about your university to the university watchdog?

Office Of The Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

The OIA is an independent organisation that deals with complaints from students and former students from England or Wales. You can complain to them if you are/were a student registered at a higher education provider, or you are/were studying for an award granted by a higher education provider. It also includes trainees, apprentices and those studying at a campus abroad for an award from a provider in England or Wales.

Complaints The OIA Can Look At

Complaints the OIA can look at include: academic appeal, accommodation problems, bullying, harassment, discrimination, disciplinary matters, extenuating circumstances, health and safety issues, placements, issues with assessments, research supervision, teaching issues and problems with the university’s facilities.

Complaints The OIA Cannot Look At

The OIA can’t look at: admissions (unless you are applying for re-admission), academic judgements, employment for students, something that has already been discussed in court/tribunal (unless this has been put on hold) or something that has already been dealt with by a different university watchdog.

First, Complete Your University’s Internal Procedures

Before complaining to the OIA, they expect students to follow their higher education provider’s internal procedures first. This gives the university a chance to investigate and correct the issues. Once this is complete, the university should issue you a Completion of Procedures Letter.

How To Complain To The OIA

You must submit an OIA Complaint Form within 12 months of the date of the Completion of Procedures Letter you received. You will also need to send a copy of this Completion of Procedures Letter alongside your complaint. The best way to submit your complaint is through MyOIA. MyOIA is a secure online portal where you can submit a complaint, track the progress of a complaint and change your contact details. You can create an account here, or log in here if you already have an account.

How To Fill Out The Form

When filling in the Complaint Form, the OIA requests that you set out your complaint as clearly and concisely as possible. You will be required to explain what you think the provider has done wrong and why you are unhappy with its final decision. You must only include relevant background information on the form. They will ask for more information if they need it. You will be required to tell them what you would like done about your complaint, and this must be a realistic request.

What Happens Next?

Once the OIA receives your complaint, they will write to you to let you know this. They will tell you if your complaint is one that they can consider or not. If it is a case that they can consider, they will allocate it to a case-handler who will decide on the final outcome.