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University disputes - your rights as a student

Your time in university should hopefully be a rewarding and fulfilling experience which lets you develop the skills you need for later in life. However, there are many examples of things that can go wrong. You could face issues with the faculty, the course content or even from other students.  As a fee-paying student you deserve the best service and more importantly the service that you are being charged for.

Fortunately, there are many options available to address any concerns you may have. Firstly, your university will likely hope that you attempt to resolve your issues informally with them. This could be by discussing your issue with your personal tutor or the student union or asking what support they can provide to help you. 
If your situation cannot be resolved informally, then your next step should be to submit a formal complaint. Each university has their own unique complaints policy so it is very important that if you do want to submit a complaint, you must make sure to obtain a copy of this. This will outline the process for dealing with your complaint, the timescales involved for doing so and what you can expect from the university if your complaint is upheld. 

As each university has their own policy, this can make it difficult to provide advice without reviewing the applicable policy. However, there are general points which usually apply. The university’s complaint process will usually have multiple stages. The first of these would be the initial submission of the complaint to the university. Once it has been considered and you have received an outcome, you may be able to request a review of the decision. This would escalate the complaint to a more senior member of the faculty, or potentially a designated complaints officer. This review is typically based on limited grounds and you may have to submit a request for a review within a certain time frame (i.e 2 weeks from receiving the outcome), but this should be outlined in the complaints procedure.

Once the second stage is completed, you may have various options available. You may be able to further escalate the complaint through the University’s process or make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. You can find out more about the OIA with this article. You could also consider legal action or a discrimination claim. The best option for you will be dependant on your circumstances at the time and our Education law specialists will be able to advise you as to what your best option should be.

Higher education law can be complicated and stressful and a student must fully understand the complaints procedures to have the best possible chance of success. With their extensive knowledge of university processes, our education law solicitors can help students increase their chances of achieving a justified complaint.  At HCB our higher education solicitors are passionate about getting the best possible result for students when submitting their complaint/appeals. Making a complaint with the assistance of our specialist lawyers often is the most cost and time efficient way in resolving any issues with a university.

If you would like to discuss your potential or ongoing dispute in more detail, please contact us on 0333 202 7175.