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Universities: Repayments

Question for Department for Education

UIN 120039, tabled on 24 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) accessibility and (b) effectiveness of the university refund procedure.

Answered on

2 December 2020

Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous institutions and as such they are responsible for providing clear systems for handling students’ complaints and appeals, including requests for refunds. The university’s formal complaints procedures should be easily accessible and available on the university’s website. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns.

Where a student completes the formal complaints process and they are dissatisfied with the outcome, they can take a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA offers a free service to students and can review complaints from students made against a higher education provider.

All higher education providers registered with the Office for Students provider must co-operate with the requirements of the student complaints scheme run by the OIA and make students aware of their ability to use the scheme. The OIA is independent of the government, and as such, is responsible for case allocation and timing. The OIA’s ‘Good Practice Framework on Handling Complaints and Appeals’ states that HE providers should normally be completed within 90 calendar days of the start of the formal complaints process: oia-good-practice-framework.pdf (oiahe.org.uk).