Universities Scotland has launched a groundbreaking complaints review, with students who feel that they have been unfairly treated by their institution queuing up to use it.
Leading QC Colin MacAulay, nominated by Scotland's faculty of advocates, has been appointed independent reviewer for the national scheme, which has veloped collectively and is supported voluntarily by individual institutions.
Students with a grievance can now ask Mr MacAulay to consider their appeal once they have exhausted an institution's internal appeals processes. The new review system covers most types of complaint, apart from matters of academic judgement such as marking and examinations.
Mr MacAulay can demand action from the institutions, which are funding the scheme themselves. He can also call for students to pay more than their own costs if he feels that the complaint they have brought is malicious or frivolous.
Rami Okasha, president of the National Union of Students Scotland, said:
"We are very pleased that there is some kind of further level of appeal beyond the university."
The union would have preferred to have seen the introduction of a parliamentary commissioner for further and higher education, but Mr Okasha said that the Universities Scotland initiative was "a very good first step".
Bill Stevely, convener of Universities Scotland and principal of the Robert Gordon University, said: "The aim of this new scheme is to reassure students that we take their complaints seriously."
Scottish institutions were proud to be the first within the UK to offer students an independent review. "This is one more reason why Scotland is one of the best places to come to study," Professor Stevely said.