NUS UK has said ‘students are at a breaking point’ after the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education) has received a record number of complaints about universities.

On Wednesday, May 4, the OIA published its annual report for 2021 in which it stated the organisation received it’s highest number of complaints from students yet.

Complaints and COVID

The data showed the OIA received 2,763 new complaints in 2021, 6% more than in 2020 (2,604) and once again our highest ever number – they also received one complaint from a large group of students.

Many universities had to turn their students to online learning during the pandemic and many students expressed their concerns about their learning during COVID. This correlates as complaints relating to issues arising from COVID made up over a third, 37%, of the complaints the OIA received in 2021.

These included complaints relating to the earlier stages of the pandemic as well as to students’ more recent experiences, because students have up to 12 months.

This was also shown as a large number of the complaints received that were about service issues (45%) remained at the higher level saw in 2020 (43%) – complaints in this category relate to issues such as teaching, course delivery, supervision and course-related facilities.

Despite the number of complaints being the highest and the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the OIA said it met most of its targets and closed 2,654 cases – also their highest ever number.

Students At A Breaking Point

Following the revelation of the OIA receiving its highest number of complaints an NUS spokesperson said it’s the government who must do more saying they must acknowledge the issues students are presented with.

The spokesperson said: ‘Students are at a breaking point. It’s no surprise that a record number of students have submitted university complaints.

‘Whilst university reserves soar to unparalleled highs, we’re hearing from more and more students who are relying on both food banks and loans from Klarna. And these stats will underestimate the number of those who aren’t happy with their experience – this disapproval will have been shared by thousands more students who either don’t know about or weren’t able to access this complaints mechanism.

‘The Government must urgently acknowledge that digital poverty is a major issue for marginalised students, and ensure that assistive technology and necessary adjustments are put in place.

‘Students want to be part of a community and want a transformative education. With a failing marketised system turning us all into consumers, we have no other avenues. The only way forward is funded, accessible and lifelong education.’

Related Topics