The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing major disruption and concern across the globe. We know this is an extremely worrying time for you.
The Office for Students (OfS) is working with the Department for Education and with universities and colleges to ensure you have the information and guidance you need. As you know, this is a fast-developing situation. Our aim is to keep you, and the universities and colleges we regulate, as up to date as possible.
This page focuses on information about higher education. For other information about coronavirus, for example about the precautions you should be taking, and what to do if you think you may have coronavirus, please read the guidance from Public Health England and guidance from the government.
Where to find information
Your university or college is the best place to go for information about your course, accommodation and access to facilities. We encourage you to make use of their support services at this time. Your students’ union, guild or association (if your university has one) would also be a good place to seek advice and support.
Some other useful sources:
What the OfS is doing
The OfS is working closely with the Department for Education and with universities and colleges to support and protect the interests of students. Universities and colleges are under immense pressure. But they still have a duty of care to all their students, and a responsibility to continue teaching and learning activities where possible.
We’re not able to tell your university or college what it should do – and in any case, we think universities and colleges are best placed to make decisions which take into account their particular situation and the needs of their students. But we are working with them in a number of ways to help them to help you:
How to complain
If you are concerned about any aspect of the way your university or college is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, there are several things you can do.
If you do not think your university or college is giving you the information that you need, you can:
- Complain to your university or college.
- Notify the Office for Students, although please be aware that although we use the information sent to us as part of our regulatory activity, we will not be able to update you on the progress or outcome of the issue you have raised.
If you do not think your university or college is giving you the information that you need, or you do not think you are being treated fairly, you can:
- Complain to your university or college. If your university has a students’ union then we suggest you contact them for support.
- If you are not satisfied with the way that a university or college has handled a complaint, you can then raise a case with the Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education. The OIA can look at issues such as:
– elements of a course or contract are not delivered as promised
– a student’s supervisor was unavailable
– a student didn’t benefit from teaching because they could not access it, or the delivery method did not work for them
– a university or college did not support its students adequately
– a university or college did not follow a reasonable assessment process.
If the OIA finds that a university or college has not taken reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disruption on a student, it may recommend that the university or college takes practical steps to put things right for the student. Where that is not possible, or the practical remedy is not sufficient, the OIA may recommend that the provider refunds a proportion of the student’s tuition fees.
The OIA has published a briefing note on its approach to complaints arising from the effects of coronavirus.
- Current students can also notify the Office for Students at any point, although please be aware that although we use the information sent to us as part of our regulatory activity, we will not be able to update you on the progress or outcome of the issue you have raised.