University complaints by students expected to double because of soaring fees


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The Independent Online

Students’ complaints about their universities are expected to almost double by the end of next year because of soaring fees, according to the independent watchdog set up to investigate them.

Rob Behrens, chief executive of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, told a conference in Lonodn he expected the number top rise from 1,605 last year to at least 3,000 by the end of 2013.

“We believe this year even before the introduction of £9,000 fees that complaints will rise by 40 per cent over the calendar year.

“Next year it will be at least as much as that.  It is a difficult challenge for us to deal with.”

The most common complaints - about 70 per cent of those made - are about assessments and feedback from tutors, he added

Many are from students awarded a 2:2 degree pass which - over the past 15 to 20 years - has increasingly not been considered by employers to be “a perfectly reasonable degree to come out with”.

“Students want to get an upper second and they’re more likely to complain if they don’t get that,” he said.

He added that international students were also more likely to complain as they were likely to have paid full-cost fees and were under pressure from home to do well.

He said some were “inarticulate” in expressing their complaints, adding:  “It made me wonder how they got their university place.”

Law students were three times more likely to complain than the average student.  Would be nurses, teachers and social workers were the next most prolific in the complaints stakes.