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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

Handling complaints and appeals during the COVID-19 pandemic

Date: July 31 - 2020

As part of a series of COVID-19 support, QAA has published a paper exploring how the UK higher education sector is handling complaints and appeals during the pandemic.

In general, universities and colleges have not radically changed their procedures for handling complaints and appeals from students in the wake of the pandemic. However, we have seen many providers adapting other policy and practices to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by factors beyond their control. This might be, for example, where the impact on health services have made it difficult for a student to provide medical evidence to support an appeal, or where caring responsibilities have made it difficult for a student to meet deadlines.

Based on engagement with QAA Member institutions, students and a range of sector bodies, the paper looks at the emerging issues and practice around students' complaints and appeals, including:

  • how providers are communicating with students
  • what we can learn from practice this year
  • the impact of 'no detriment' policies on the handling of complaints and appeals.

While the paper draws on practice from the current academic year, the information should be useful for future years.

The paper also signposts useful guidance from funders and regulators about handling complaints, and from organisations such as the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, the Competition and Markets Authority, and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.