Student complaints guidance ‘not always followed’, says OIA

Many universities are still failing to follow official guidance on when to report student complaints to the sector’s ombudsman, it has been warned.

September 27, 2013

Announcing the publication of its 2012 annual letters, which set out the complaints record of all universities under the OIA scheme, Rob Behrens, chief executive of the watchdog, said not all institutions were following the organisation’s guidance on when to declare student complaints.

Currently, universities are required to report complaints once a student has exhausted the institution’s internal appeals procedure and a student’s complaint has not been upheld.

Once this has happened, a Completion of Procedures letter should be automatically issued – a move which informs students that they can take their grievance to the OIA for independent consideration.

However, some universities are only issuing CoP letters if a student requests them, while others have lengthy, multi-stage processes which deter many students from pursuing their complaint to the end, Times Higher Education revealed last month.

“There is still work to do to make sure that all universities follow OIA guidance on Completion of Procedures letters,” said Mr Behrens said.

Universities also need to “[understand] the reasons why cases that turn out to be justified or partly justified have not been resolved at the university”, he said.

The annual letters are published to “increase public scrutiny of complaints handling records in universities” and “increase complainant confidence in university complaints handling processes”, the OIA says.

However, it is unwise to compare the number of CoPs at different institutions because different universities have different processes in managing and closing complaints, the OIA warns.

“It is not always possible to assume that the number of ‘Completion of Procedures’ letters accurately reflects the number of complaints and appeals which have been through formal university processes,” the OIA said.

However, Mr Behrens said the information from the annual letters provides a “sector overview” which is “extremely helpful”, despite the difficulty in comparing institutions.

“The annual letters help to identify patterns, but it is important not to make comparisons that are not supported by the data,” said Mr Behrens.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham