The OIA And All That How the OIA operates What criteria it uses What “recommendations” it makes What will make for “good practice” Mike Adey, Ruth Hattam
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education • Independent • Paid by subscription from HEIs • Voluntary from 2004, obligatory from 2005 • Based in Reading • 25 “adjudicators” • Nearly all trained as lawyers
When May Students Access the OIA? • Only once all the university’s internal processes have been completed • Have three months after this • Will not consider complaints about admissions, employment matters or academic judgement* • Is available to students on a franchised programme *OIA definition: “Academic judgement … is a judgement that is made about a matter where only the opinion of an academic expert will suffice”
How are Complaints Investigated? • Case is allocated to an adjudicator • Request information from the university • Regulations • Documents considered during the university’s internal processes • Two criteria when forming a conclusion • Own regulations and procedures followed? • Were the decisions made reasonable in all the circumstances?
Sample Case Studies • An appeal or a complaint? • Which of our internal procedures should we use? • Is it a question of academic judgement? • Was it a reasonable decision?
What Decisions May the OIA Make? • Produce a “formal decision” • Justified/Partially Justified/Not Justified • Makes “Recommendations” to the university • University recommended to re-visit the case, e.g. Examination Board • Recommended to take a particular course of action • Pay the student a specific sum of money for inconvenience, distress, compensation • Review its regulations and/or procedures • OIA statistics reported anonymously on an annual basis
Trends in Student Appeals and Complaints Nationally 15% of cases go to the OIA, 33% of these are upheld or settled in some way
Student Appeals and Complaints: What Does it Mean for Staff? • Understanding of process • Transparency and objectivity • Potentially intimidating • Issues of confidentiality • Professionalism……
Good Practice • Clear audit trails • Follow regulations and make reasonable decisions • Principles of natural justice • Never put in writing anything you would not want other parties to see
Undertaking an OIA Investigation • A university had completed its internal procedures and the student has complained to the OIA • You are the OIA adjudicator • What information would you have asked for? • What would you have decided?