Student complaints code suffers further delay

September 24, 1999

The QAA is running into more trouble. Tony Tysome and Phil Baty report

The Quality Assurance Agency's code of practice on student complaints will be further delayed after it was conceded that the current draft may not yet "command external respect".

Higher education minister Tessa Blackstone said last week that universities had been too slow to implement proper procedures for handling student complaints and appeals. The Dearing report called for "fair and robust" procedures to be introduced by July 1999 but she claims some institutions have still not reviewed procedures.

Vice-chancellors say progress has been inhibited by a lack of guidance, notably a QAA code.

Peter Williams, QAA director of institutional review, has told members of the working group on complaints, that he chairs, that he has substantially altered the code's text since the group met in June. "The present version needs a bit more work to make the text clearer, more practicable and more likely to command external respect."

Working group members and university managers consulted by the QAA have been concerned about plans that call into question the role of the university visitor.

The QAA board met to discuss the code last week and it was to go out for consultation before the end of this month. But now the draft will not be published until at least late October. The working group meets on October 19 to secure consensus over the changes. It is hoped the code will be given final endorsement in November.

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