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Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education

The Higher Education Act 2004 brought into force the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA is charged with the power to make decisions on complaints brought by a student against their university. The student must have pursued all internal procedures to the end of the appeal process and generally, must also be in possession of a Completion of Procedures Letter before the right to complain to the OIA arises.

We have a high success rate in achieving successful outcomes from the OIA for our clients.

Once you have your Completion of Procedures Letter, you can download the Scheme Application Form from the OIA’s website, complete it and submit it to the OIA within 3 months of the date on the Completion of Procedures Letter. Once the OIA has the Scheme Application Form, they will write to you to confirm grounds of complaint and will send a copy of your complaint to the university for their comments. The OIA will then give you an opportunity to comment on the university’s response. Once the OIA has all the evidence and information it requires from both parties, a decision will be made. The OIA is an independent body and will seek evidence and information from both parties before making that decision.

Judicial Review

The OIA has a wide range of powers and can make a variety of recommendations to a university if it finds in favour of the student. If the university fails to comply with a recommendation from the OIA, the OIA is able to publish this in its annual report. If the student is unhappy with the decision of the OIA, the student may challenge the decision of the OIA by way of Judicial Review in the High Court. This must be done promptly and in any event within 3 months of the date of the OIA’s decision. Alternatively, the student may be able to pursue a breach of contract and/or negligence claim against the university.

If you are not happy with any decision made by an internal appeal procedure, we are able to advise you on the merits of your case, what evidence you may require to prepare your complaint to the OIA, assist you in drafting your complaint and advise on the public law grounds in any decision made against you by the university which should be put to the OIA. We also have access to specialist barristers who are able to comment on the more complex complaints. In the event that the OIA does not find your complaint justified, we have the specialist knowledge to be able to advise you on the merits of bringing a Judicial Review claim against the OIA. At the same time, we are able to assess whether or not you may have a breach of contract claim against the university.

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