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Good practice framework for Student complaints

“Universities should include mediation in their framework for handling student complaints,” says the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) – and we agree!

The OIA is the ADR Entity for Higher Education, appointed by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute on 7 July 2015.

The formal process is long, complex and saps everyone’s time and energy; most students with complaints about staff behaviours and attitude would prefer to talk it out, in our experience.

The new and updated Good Practice Framework for Handling Complaints and Academic Appeals  provides an overview of the key factors to include in effective complaints and academic appeals processes. It sets out underlying principles and operational guidance to support institutions in areas including timeframes, progression between informal, formal and review stages, and record-keeping.

Mediation and conciliation

Mediation and conciliation are usually voluntary processes where an impartial, independent third party helps parties to a dispute resolve issues confidentially. Using mediation or conciliation during the early resolution stage can help both parties to understand what is driving the concern and may be more likely to result in a swift and mutually satisfactory conclusion being reached. Mediation or conciliation may be particularly helpful in resolving disputes between students.
Where both the university and the student agree to mediation or conciliation in the formal stage of considering a complaint, revised timescales may need to be agreed between the parties and confirmed in writing. All parties need to be clear about the scope of the mediation or conciliation process, how the arrangement fits with other procedures, and whether its use is subject to the parties agreeing in advance to accept the solution offered by the conciliator. The formal process may need to be re-started if agreement cannot be reached.
Download the full report here:



The way student complaints are investigated and appealed is changing!

From 1 September 2015, students on higher education courses whose complaints are eligible under the OIA Scheme Rules, will be able to go to the OIA.  So you need to be ready to join the OIA Scheme.

The OIA recommended one university to pay a student £8300 in compensation due to a complaint not being dealt with correctly. Dr Chan vs UCL 2012

We can help you get ready!

  •  Support with reviewing your policy and procedure to ensure it is Scheme-compliant
  • Train managers to resolve complaints at Stage “0” through discussion and negotiation
  • Train your local Investigation Officers/Heads of School to carry out Stage 1 informal investigations
  • Train your Stage 2 Appeal managers – Secretary, PVC – to carry out a robust  and impartial review and draw balanced and reasoned conclusions.

You’re in safe hands with us

We have trained investigators for Buckinghamshire New University, University of Cumbria, University of Gloucestershire, University of Bradford and City of Bristol College.

We have also helped other universities with conflict management

London University of Arts, York St John’s University, University of York, De Montfort University, University of Manchester, Cambridge University and others.

“I really enjoyed the hands on practical nature of the training. Made it very real and memorable. The trainer was really approachable – felt comfortable to try and make mistakes and then learn from them.”

Head of Student Voice, University of Manchester

Call us for more information on how we can support you with Student compliant mediation and investigations!