Recently, some of our Advisers went on some crucial training to better understand how to help students. See below for Cambridge Adviser Daryl’s account of the day…
"Last Thursday saw myself, Jo (Cambridge Adviser) and Nic (Academic & Welfare Adviser in London) travel to sunny Worcester for a day of training in the Office of the Independent Adjudicator!
While this might not sound like a huge barrel of laughs, it’s actually a hugely important independent body that exists to help students. The OIA is there to investigate complaints made about institutions after students have gone through all the internal processes available to them."
But what does that mean for us as Advisers?
"At the Advice Service, myself Jo and Nic, and our three Advisers in Chelmsford (Kim, Claire and Amba) all see students often going through tough times at university. They may have had difficult circumstances in their life leading to failed exams and need to mitigate, they may be experiencing difficulty in their university accommodation and want to submit a student to student complaint, they may be homesick, they may have been given wrong information about an upcoming exam… anything! The important thing, is that the university has processes and services in place for all of these students, and we can help them through them. The Mitigation and Late Mitigation processes allows students to explain their circumstances and a panel decides if they should be given another attempt at an assignment. The university Residential Services have a great relationship with us and often help students to resolve issues even in private halls. We have a great Counselling and Wellbeing Service who we can signpost students to. There’s a thorough two stage Complaints process in the Rules Regulations and Procedures for Students where students can outline grievances against other students or university staff. The Academic Regulations lay out Appeals and how a student can explore options when the university may have done something wrong. There is so much help out there and we know most of it! (Please note, the above examples are far from exhaustive, please see our Advice Service webpage for everything we can help with)"
However, in some cases, going through the university processes available doesn’t get the student the outcome they are looking for.
"In rare cases, the processes aren’t as robust as outlined in the Rules. And for these reasons the OIA exists for students. Students can (providing they have gone through what’s available to them at university) tell the OIA how they think their institution let them down, didn’t follow their own rules, or didn’t come to a reasonable outcome. Here at the Advice Service in the Students’ Union, we can help students through this."
"On our training day, we learned about the Good Practice Framework, which is a document provided by the OIA for institutions to help write their processes. We learned about how many students they help a year (over 1500!) and discussed with other attendees how different institutions work. For example, did you know that here at Anglia Ruskin University and in the Students’ Union, we advisers can accompany and represent students at Assessment Offence Panels- which may be very daunting without support- and that not all universities offer that."
"The OIA is a body which most students will never have to know about, but it is there for those who need it. You can be confident that our Advice Service is trained and up to date in helping students in the few times we are required to."
"We had a great day learning about the OIA and how it supports institutions to have strong processes to help students as early as possible, and how they can be there when universities can’t."
Are any of the problems mentioned in this article affecting you? Want to know if we can help with anything else? Don’t hesitate to visit any of our offices to make an Advice Appointment, or visit the website and fill in an online form.