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The OIA is an independent body that manages the student complaints scheme in all England and Wales universities, following the Higher Education Act 2004. The role of the OIA is to review individual complaints by students against universities. The OIA have no regulatory powers over universities and cannot punish or fine them. The OIA can normally only look at a complaint after it has been taken through the internal complaints or appeals procedures of the university. Students have 12 months in which to submit a complaint to the OIA after receiving a Completion of Procedures letter from the University.

What complaints can the OIA investigate?

Anyone who was or is registered as a student at a participating Higher Education Institution (HEI) can complain about:

  • Any final decision of the HEI
  • A service provided by the HEI
  • Teaching and facilities
  • Student accommodation
  • Research supervision
  • Welfare
  • Discrimination - race, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation or religious belief
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Placements
  • Maladministration
  • Procedural irregularities
  • Unfair practices
  • Disciplinary matters, including plagiarism
  • Fitness to practise issues

What complaints cannot be considered by the OIA?

The Scheme does not cover complaints relating to:

  • Admissions
  • Academic judgment
  • Student employment
  • Matters which have already been considered by a court or tribunal and where the proceedings have been concluded
  • Matters which are being considered by a court or tribunal where the proceedings have been suspended
  • Matters which the OIA consider have not materially affected the complainant as a student
  • Matters which the OIA has already dealt with

The OIA will not normally look at complaints where the main issues complained about took place more than three years before the complaint is received by the OIA.

For the most current rules and eligibility guidance, see the Rules and Complaints section of the OIA website:

Additional Information

Guidance about the TLSO’s processes in relation to OIA complaints is available here: 

The OIA published a Good Practice Framework for the handling of complaints and academic appeals in December 2014:

The TLSO worked with colleagues across the University to review Regulations XVIII and XIX.  Compliance with the Framework is expected from 2015/16 onwards.  The amendments to the Regulations were approved by Senate during June 2015.  The new versions of Regulation XVIII and XIX came into effect from 1st September 2015.  The accompanying Forms, Regulations flowcharts and further guidance have been updated accordingly.

Recommended wording for Completion of Procedures letters issued at the University

Please see the template below for letters issued from 10th July 2015 onwards:

(Please note that Completion of Procedures letters may only be issued by persons authorised to do so. In most cases this is a key member of Faculty staff or the Director of the TLSO.)