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Office of the Independent Adjudicator

What is the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)?

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent body set up to operate a student complaints scheme in England and Wales following the Higher Education Act 2004. All universities in England and Wales must subscribe to this scheme. The role of the OIA is to review individual complaints by students against universities, but it has no regulatory powers over universities and cannot punish or fine them.

Who can bring a complaint to the OIA?

Anyone who was or is registered as a student at a participating higher education institution can complain about:

• a programme of study or research for which he or she is or was registered;
• a service provided to him or her by a higher education institution;
• a final decision by a higher education institution’s disciplinary or appeal body;
• a designated higher education institution programme validated or franchised by a higher education institution

Who cannot bring a complaint to the OIA?

The OIA cannot look at a complaint if:

• it relates to a matter of academic judgement;
• the matter is or has been the subject of court proceedings;
• it concerns a student employment matter;
• it relates to an institution which is not a higher education institution;
• it is about admission to a higher education institution.

How to bring a complaint to the OIA

The OIA can only look at a complaint after it has been taken through the internal complaints or appeals procedures of the university. Once the university’s procedures have been completed a 'Completion of Procedures Letter' (CoP) will be issued.

Complaints should be received by the OIA within three months of the date of the Completion of Procedures Letter; otherwise they may consider the complaint to be out of time.

For more information, please see the OIA website.

Guidance for Authorised Officers (Staff who are authorised to prepare and / or check and / or sign Completion of Procedures letters before issue)