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How to raise a complaint about an individual's experience

This page outlines the sources of advice available to students and staff and the ways to pursue a complaint that relates to an individual's experience with a university, college or other provider of higher education.

1. Complete the formal internal complaints and, if necessary, appeals processes at the provider

Students and staff should always begin by raising a complaint with the provider, giving the opportunity to resolve the issue locally.

Universities, colleges and other providers of higher education will have a formal internal complaints procedure for students and staff that sets out how to make a complaint and what will happen. This is likely to be available on the provider's website; if not, the provider will be able to supply it on request.

2. Raise the matter with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator

If the internal complaints procedure does not resolve the issue, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) may be able to help.

The OIA is an independent organisation which has been set up to consider student complaints. The OIA service is free to students and all providers of higher education that have access to the student support system must subscribe to the OIA. 

Use the OIA complaints wizard to see the type of complaint it can assist with.

Sources of advice and guidance

Students' unions

If the provider has a students’ union, they may be able to help with a complaint. Find contact details for a students’ union on the National Union of Students (NUS) website.  

The Improving Dispute Resolution Advisory Service for Further and Higher Education (IDRAS)

IDRAS is able to provide initial independent and free support to individual students, employees and researchers who are involved in disputes with providers of higher education. The IDRAS website also provides resources on a wide range of aspects of dispute resolution in education.

Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA)

The Competitions and Marketing Authority has produced a guide to consumer rights for students.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice can advise on breaches of consumer rights.


The following document sets out our agreement with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA):

Memorandum of understanding between HEFCE and OIA

Download the MOU with OIA January 2017 as PDF (87 KB) 

 

Page last updated 7 November 2017