The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is an independent, impartial organisation, which reviews student complaints and is the next step for students who have completed UAL’s internal procedures. It is separate from the University.
What are the stages of the OIA procedure?
- You submit your complaint form to OIA.
- OIA determines whether your complaint will be reviewed (initial consideration).
- OIA reviews your complaint, obtaining evidence from UAL and from you.
- UAL may offer an early settlement.
- OIA will issue a Complaint Outcome and Recommendations for resolution
Quick facts about OIA
When can I submit my complaint to OIA?
To submit a complaint to OIA, you will need to have received a 'Completion of Procedures letter' which marks the end of UAL's internal processes, within the last 12 months.
You can submit your complaint after you graduate. However, if possible, we advise that you submit as soon as possible to allow time for action to be taken when you’re still studying.
How do I submit my complaint?
Your complaint will be submitted via OIA’s online complaint form.
OIA advises that you submit the complaint yourself, but you can elect a representative.
What sort of complaints does OIA review?
If you have been issued with a Completion of Procedures letter, it’s worth contacting us to ask if you can submit a complaint to OIA.
Complaints should relate to UAL’s internal processes.
- This includes, but is not limited to, issues with Extenuating Circumstances, appeals, complaints, disciplinary processes, and discrimination.
- It must have affected you in your capacity as a student, either by affecting your student life or your studies.
OIA does not review complaints related to:
- Academic judgment
- Student employment
- Issues that are already subject to legal proceedings.
- Issues that are being reviewed by another alternative dispute resolution organisation.
Whilst OIA cannot review complaints regarding academic judgment, they can investigate the related procedures, for example implicit bias in the marking procedure.
Will UAL know that I’ve submitted a complaint?
Yes. After you submit your complaint, OIA will inform the University, who will be asked to provide relevant documents related to your case.
How long will the process take?
The process can last for several months.
After receiving your complaint form, OIA will aim to confirm if it will review your case within 3 weeks. This may take longer if they request further information.
Within 90 days of the Review process concluding, you should be informed of the Complaint Outcome. The process can be shorter if an agreed settlement is reached, meaning a full review does not need to take place.
In highly complex cases, the process can take longer. OIA will communicate any significant extensions to you.
What are the potential outcomes?
If OIA chooses to review your complaint, it may suggest a settlement with UAL, which could involve re-running the complaints or appeals procedure.
If a settlement is not appropriate, OIA will issue a ‘Complaint Outcome’ with proposed Recommendations.
These can include referral to internal procedures, apologies from UAL, financial compensation, and long-term changes to UAL’s policies. OIA outcomes are based on guidance set out in a document called Putting Thing Right
How can the SU Advice Service support me throughout?
We can advise you on how to write your complaint form and the possible outcomes you might like to see.
We can also help you to submit any requests to OIA asking them to reconsider any of their decisions or re-open your review.
Reviewing your complaint
When deciding whether to review your case, OIA will work to determine:
- If UAL followed its own internal procedures accurately.
- If it carried those procedures out fairly.
- If UAL’s final decision reasonable.
How does the review work?
During the review, OIA will gather as information on your case, sometimes organising a meeting or more formal hearing. UAL will be asked to comment on your complaint in writing, and you will be given the opportunity to respond to these comments.
Before the review process concludes, UAL may seek an informal resolution. This might result in mediation or referral to internal procedures, if they were initially not carried out fairly. If OIA believes UAL’s settlement is reasonable, your review may be terminated, even if you reject the settlement.
Complaint Outcome and Recommendations
If OIA decides that an informal settlement is inappropriate, it will complete its review and issue a Complaint Outcome. This document will determine whether your complaint is Justified, Partly Justified, or Not Justified.
OIA believes that UAL has offered you a suitable remedy for your complaint. However, they may still make suggestions and encourage UAL to re-offer you a settlement.
Partly Justified or Justified
OIA believes that UAL’s remedy is unsuitable or inadequate and is upholding your complaint. OIA will make Recommendations for resolution and, once confirmed, UAL must follow the Recommendations.
These are made on a case-by-case basis. They often include apologies and the opportunity to repeat internal processes. In some cases, UAL may have to provide financial compensation, either through refunding tuition fees or, occasionally, making payments of up to £5,000.
If OIA does not agree to review your complaint after its initial consideration, you can ask them to reconsider their decision within 2 weeks of being informed of the decision.
If OIA decides to terminate your review, you can request that OIA reconsider the decision within 2 weeks.
If you want to re-open your review after the Complaint Outcome has been issued, you must submit a request within 28 days, citing new evidence or errors in the Complaint Outcome.