Student guide to industrial action

What to do if you're unhappy with the impact of industrial action

If you are unhappy about the impact of industrial action on your studies, there is a three-step process to resolve issues.

Step 1: Contact your university or college

In many cases, issues can be resolved fastest through a discussion with staff in your university or college. You should raise your concerns with an appropriate contact in the first instance. Your university or college should make clear to you how you can do this.

They should respond with understanding and a proactive approach to resolving issues. It is normally in the interests of everyone that issues are prevented before they occur. Raising concerns early gives your university or college an opportunity to put things right.

Your students’ union or other representative body may also be able to give you advice on how to resolve issues with your university or college directly. You could look at their website for more information, or contact their advice service or course reps if you have them.

Step 2: Formal complaint to your university or college

If problems are not effectively resolved through discussion with your university/college, you have the right to make a formal complaint. All universities and colleges must have robust complaints processes which are easy to access and understand and are fair to students.

Your university or college should provide clear information on how to make a complaint. You will usually find this information on their website. Students’ unions and other student groups are often able to support you or offer advice through official complaints processes.

Step 3: Contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)

The OIA is the independent student complaints scheme for higher education. If you have made a formal complaint to your university or college but you're not satisfied with the outcome or you think it has been poorly handled, you can take your complaint to the OIA for free.

The OIA’s approach to complaints regarding industrial action is to establish what your university or college promised, what you could have reasonably expected in the circumstances, and what was delivered in reality. It will look at the steps your university or college took to put things right and, if necessary, it is able to recommend remedies if this action fell short. In some cases, this has included recommending partial tuition fee refunds.

Some useful resources from the OAI include:

Published 09 November 2021
Last updated 24 November 2022
24 November 2022
Minor updates, changing 'providers' to 'universities or colleges'.

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