Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is an independent body set up to review student complaints on a range of issues, including complaints about staff members. We encourage students who have made a complaint to their university regarding any form of staff sexual misconduct to consider contacting the OIA if they feel this complaint has been unreasonably delayed, or has been dealt with inadequately.

31 October 2018

The OIA has published a new section of the Good Practice Framework: Disciplinary procedures. The guidance is drawn from the OIA’s broad experience of handing complaints, and was put together in consultation with the Good Practice Framework Steering Group.

The OIA has also released a briefing note on complaints involving sexual misconduct and harassment, which can be found here.

Key point:

Students can go to the OIA without a Completion of Procedures Letter if the complaints process at their institution is not progressing.

The OIA will not review a complaint unless the higher education provider has had the opportunity to look at it first. This means that normally the student needs to have completed the provider’s internal processes before complaining to the OIA, and the provider will have given them a Completion of Procedures Letter. The OIA can accept a complaint for review when the student has not completed the higher education provider’s internal processes in “exceptional circumstances”.  The OIA will do this if it believes there has been undue delay by the provider in progressing the complaint and there appears to be no prospect of early resolution, where it believes the higher education provider might be obstructing the complaint, or where there is nothing to be gained by progressing with the internal processes.

This means that if a student makes a complaint about the behaviour of another student or a staff member, and their complaint is not progressed, is being obstructed, or remains unresolved as far as the student is concerned after an unreasonable length of time, the OIA will consider accepting it for review even if the student does not have a Completion of Procedures letter.

You can phone the Casework Support Team at the OIA for an initial discussion on 0118 959 9813 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or send a query via their website.

You need to submit your complaint to the OIA within 12 months of the end of the complaints process at your university, but the sooner the better. If the complaints process is yet to be completed, you can contact the OIA at any point where you feel the process has been unnecessarily delayed, or if the process is having an adverse impact on your mental health. It will be helpful if you can provide evidence of either of these issues if possible.

See the OIA website for guidance on how to make a complaint: