Student Complaints About University Courses Hit Record Numbers | TOTUM
Holly BarrowMay 4th

Complaints from university students in England and Wales about their courses reached a record high last year, with the amount of compensation given to students exceeding £1.3m according to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

2,763 complaints were received by the OIA, with more than a third of these relating to the pandemic.

The OIA noted that 'some students found that they weren't getting the learning experiences that they reasonably expected'.


However there are other explanations for complaints being 6% higher than the previous year, with one being delays in submitting complaints from 2020.

Other factors include industrial strike action and staffing issues.

But the most cited factor was related to the way in which courses were delivered. A number of students reportedly complained that they were unable to access vital in-person facilities such as laboratories, along with many complaining that they were unable to complete their study abroad years.

Others raised issue with the increased dependence upon remote learning as a result of ongoing lockdown measures and Covid-19 restrictions at the time. For many students, this constituted problems such as technical issues along with struggles surrounding digital literacy.

The report found that online timed exams drastically impacted some students, while limited typing skills had poor consequences for others.

The National Union of Students (NUS) further corroborated these findings by highlighting the negative impact of digital poverty, with an official stating that the record number of complaints was "no surprise" due to students being "at breaking point".


According to the report, one case resulted in over £68,000 worth of compensation - this was the highest single amount of financial compensation.

63 students received compensation of more than £5,000, with 27% of the total complaints seen as “justified”.

"Justified" cases included a group of masters students who were refunded half of their tuition fees after complaining about how their practical arts programme had been advertised, a student who was seriously injured while at university and was not given information about the Disabled Students' Allowance, and medical students who were studying at an overseas campus where facilities were not properly finished.

Despite the high number of complaints, Universities UK said these represented only "a small fraction of the total student population".

"The overwhelming majority of students continue to receive a world-class education," it said.

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