Complaints about a university or college

At the OfS, we do not have the power to intervene or advise in a dispute between a student and their university or college. But there is a pathway that you can follow if you have a complaint.

This page outlines the steps to take when you have a complaint or if you need to escalate unresolved problems to an independent adjudicator, and what to do if you think a higher education provider is failing in its duties.

Student complaints

If you wish to raise a complaint about your university or college, you should:

  1. Start by raising your complaint with the university or college
    Universities and colleges should have a complaints procedure that explains how to make a complaint. This will usually be on their website. If not, they should supply it on request.
  2. Escalate it to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
    The OIA is an independent organisation that considers student complaints. You can use the OIA complaints wizard to see the sorts of complaint it can help with.
Find out more about how to raise a complaint with the OIA


As the regulator for higher education in England, we want to know if a university or college that we regulate is failing in its duties.

If you believe that a higher education provider has been failing to meet our conditions of registration, and that this failure is likely to be repeated or ongoing, you can submit evidence as a notification. We will investigate the problem and, if necessary, take action to ensure that the provider meets the conditions in future.

At the OfS we cannot:

  • Adjudicate, mediate, advise or intervene in a specific dispute between an individual and their university or college
  • Right wrongs or compensate individuals
  • Keep individuals informed on the progress or outcome of a notification
  • Investigate or take action against a university or college if it is not on our register
  • Act on any matter which is not covered by our conditions of registration

Notifications are not the same as complaints, so you should still follow the student complaints procedure above if you are looking for a personal resolution to the problem.

New complaints scheme for free speech - 2024

Under new legislation the OfS will operate a new complaints scheme to consider free speech complaints about universities and colleges or relevant students’ unions.

Current and former students, staff members (including applicants for academic posts) and visiting speakers (including those who have been invited to be visiting speakers) will be able to submit complaints to us.

We expect the complaints scheme to launch on 1 August 2024.

Once the OfS complaints scheme is set up, we will be able to consider eligible complaints.

Published 26 January 2021
Last updated 27 September 2023
27 September 2023
We have added information about the new complaints scheme to consider free speech complaints.

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