How to submit a notification
If you believe your university or college may not be meeting the OfS’s requirements, you can send us a notification. Use this section and our checklist below to help you write your notification.
The email address to send your notification to is: [email protected].
If you are not sure whether to submit a notification and would like to discuss your concern, please phone us on 0117 931 7317 or write to [email protected] outlining the issue and we can arrange to call you back.
If you are submitting a notification on behalf of a student or a group of students, you should explain this so we can understand the extent of the issue you are telling us about.
Submitting a notification will give us information about a particular issue or issues, which may suggest that a university or college is not meeting our requirements, and we may take regulatory action, where necessary and appropriate, to protect the interest of students who study at the university or college.
Where we decide to carry out further investigation of an issue that we have been notified of, we cannot do so ‘on behalf of’ the notifier (in this case, a student, group of students or students’ union) and we can’t provide individual redress (for example, compensation to an affected student).
If a student is seeking individual redress, they should raise their complaint with their university or college directly. If the student is not satisfied, they can raise a complaint with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
The notifications process
- You (one or more students or a students’ union) identify a concern or issue.
- Following discussion with the university or college, you decide that this is something the OfS would like to know about.
- Review this guide and write your notification, including any relevant evidence and context.
- Submit your notification to [email protected].
- The OfS writes to you to acknowledge receipt of your notification and a member of the OfS team reviews it. This may involve gathering information from other available sources, including the university or college.
- If we require further information, we will ask you via email. If we think the matter you have raised should be dealt with by another organisation, we will let you know who to contact.
What happens after you send a notification?
If you notify us of an issue, we will acknowledge your notification by email. We will review the information you provide and we may contact you for further information. You can find more information about the way we consider notifications and the action we could take in Regulatory Advice 18.
If we decide to investigate an issue, this will be for the purpose of regulating your university or college. This means that we would not be following up on your behalf, and we would not be able to provide individual redress (such as compensation).
We are not able to provide updates about any action we are taking, or may take, as a result of your notification (as this could interfere with our ability to investigate). Where we think a notification raises concerns about a university or college, we may follow up with it, and, if necessary, consider taking regulatory action.
Where we take regulatory action as a result of notifications from students, we would expect to see action from a university or college and improvements in relation to the issues raised. This could help you and future students.
We do carefully consider all the notifications we receive. Where we think a notification raises concerns that a university or college is not meeting, or is at risk of breaching, our requirements, we may intervene and use our regulatory powers to address or prevent poor quality courses, or behaviour that damages students’ or public interests.
It may be that we have general feedback, for example on the patterns we see across all notifications, that could help you in submitting notifications in the future. If so, we will share this information with you by email.
It is possible that a single notification will not contain sufficient information to affect our regulatory assessment of a particular university or college. But that notification may be relevant if further information were to come to light, or if we receive several notifications about the same university or college. This helps us pick up on trends at a particular university or college, or in the sector as a whole.
We may share information from a notification with others. For example, we may share information about a potential breach of consumer protection law with the Advertising Standards Agency. Or, if a course is accredited by a professional body, it may need to know about a notification we’ve received.
We are normally able to share information about a notification in a way that does not reveal the identity of the notifier.
Our general approach to the notifications we receive from individual students is that we make every attempt to protect their identity from a university or college where requested.
Where we receive a notification from students’ unions or student representatives on behalf of a student or group of students, we will make every attempt to protect the identity of the students to whom the concerns relate from the university or college where requested.
This is particularly the case for notifications of a sensitive nature, for example relating to harassment and discrimination. In these circumstances, we will usually only reveal the identity of the students when we are legally required to, or where the students have provided consent.
Where a notification is being made by a students’ union or a group of students, we find it particularly helpful to know the identity of the notifier because it is likely to make it easier for us to understand whether the issues raised are affecting a number of students and to take further action where this is appropriate.
Where students’ unions or representatives submit a notification on behalf of a group of students, you should ensure you have express permission from the students concerned confirming that they consent to the sharing of any sensitive or personal data with the OfS.
It is important to note that sometimes the nature of a notification reveals the notifier’s identity, or the identity of the students to whom the concerns relate, especially if the issue has been raised with the university or college directly.
If you are worried that an identity could be revealed if we contact a university or college about your notification, then please let us know so that we can consider how best to proceed. We wouldn’t expect submitting a notification to negatively impact your studies.
A checklist for your notification
Using this checklist will help you make sure you’ve included all the right information to help us understand your concern.
- Who is submitting the notification? A student, a group of students, a students’ union?
- Which university or college is the notification about? Please provide the name of the university or college. We are only able to consider concerns about universities and colleges on our register.
- Who does the concern affect? Is the notification about something that affects all the students on a particular course, or in a particular department? Or is it a concern raised about the university or college as a whole?
- What is the concern, and do you have any examples or evidence that will help us understand how it is affecting students? If you are submitting a notification on behalf of a group, you should not send us information that identifies individual students or sensitive, personal student data.
- Are particular groups of students affected more than others? How has your university or college engaged in solving this issue, either independently or in collaboration with students? If you have not engaged with the university or college directly in respect of this issue, please explain why. As explained above, before approaching the OfS, where possible, you should follow your university or college’s complaints process.