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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Complaints about QAA and appeals against decisions

​​​This section tells you how to complain if you are unhappy with the service you have received from QAA. If you have a complaint or concern about a higher education provider, please see our Concerns pages.

When the service we provide is not as​​ good as it should be, we want to kno​w so that we can put it right. Please let us know if you feel dissatisfied with any aspect of our service, including, for example: 

  • complaints about the work or conduct of QAA staff or a contractor (revie​wer, associate) working for QAA
  • complaints about the accuracy of the information​​ we provide 
  • ​complaints that a review has not been conducted according to the published method.

Our procedure for the handling of complaints

In the first instance, if you are not happy with the servic​​​e you have received from QAA please tell the person you have been dealing with so that they can provide an explanation.

If you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, please write to us setting out your complaint. Your correspondence should be addressed to the Information and Enquiries Team. The Information and Enquiries Team will log receipt of your correspondence and refer your complaint to the Head of Governance, who will send you a written acknowledgement.

The Head of Governance will consider whether or not your correspondence raises issues of service quality, and in the majority of cases will respond directly. In some circumstances the Head of Governance may decide that your complaint requires more detailed consideration, and will refer the complaint for further investigation before responding.  In the event that a complaint is referred for further investigation, we will make sure that the investigating officer does not have a conflict of interests with the subject of the complaint. 

Complaints which the Head of Governance classifies as 'serious' will be referred to the Chief Executive for investigation. Examples of 'serious' complaints might include, but are not limited to, those regarding allegations of improper conduct, fraud or dishonesty. Complaints of this nature may fall outside of the guideline timescales outlined below.

Standards of service

We strive to investigate complaints quickly and thoroughly. The timeline below gives further information about the time it takes to investigate complaints. In some cases it will be possible for us to complete our work in less time than the timeline indicates; in exceptional cases it will take longer.

We are responsible to our Board for completing our work within these timescales and we report to them about this annually.

  • By end of week one - receipt of complaint is acknowledged in writing.
  • By end of week three - we will either respond to your complaint or advise that it is proceeding to further investigation.
  • By end of week eight - we will advise you of the outcome of the further investigation (exceptionally this might take longer but you will be advised in writing if this is the case).

Appeals against decisions

We are committed to working in an open and accountable way. This includes having clear published procedures for responding to complaints from higher education providers and for handling appeals against specific decisions.

We distinguish between complaints and appeals. We regard a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction with services we provide or actions we have taken.

Appeals are challenges to specific decisions, in specific circumstances, and these are handled through our 
Consolidated Appeals Procedure (PDF, 99KB). Appeals should be submitted via the QAA Appeal Submission Form (DOC, 40KB)​. Both these documents are also available in Welsh​.

Please note: the appeals procedure for the Access to HE Diploma is currently under review and this page will be updated accordingly.​

Quality Review Visit

For appeals related to the Quality Review Visit method, there is a separate appeals procedure:

Appeals against the outcomes of a Quality Review Visit (PDF, 76KB).

Appeals should be submitted via the Quality Review Visit Appeal Submission Form (DOC, 47KB​).

Further information

For further guidance on any aspect of the complaints procedure, please contact us via enquiries@qaa.ac.uk.​