Peculiar business

September 18, 1998

The Quality Assurance Agency does not have and does not seek a role in adjudicating on individual student complaints ("Student gripes head for QAA", THES, August 21).

It is for institutions to put in place fair, open and robust systems to handle complaints. Decisions reached through such procedures may be subject to scrutiny by a Visitor (where such a post exists) or through a judicial review.

A decision of an ombudsman could not oust the jurisdiction of the courts or of a Visitor. The additional procedural step such a body would involve could prolong, rather than resolve disputes.

The best way forward, as the government recognised in its response to Dearing, is for institutions to get complaints handling right first time.

John Randall Chief executive, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

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