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The role of mediation within university protocols concerning student complaints and appeals

Mark Van Hoorebeek (Bradford University Law School, Bradford, UK)
Chris Gale (Bradford University Law School, Bradford, UK)
Stuart Walker (Bradford University Law School, Bradford, UK)

Multicultural Education & Technology Journal

ISSN: 1750-497X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

As the predicted escalation in the litigation becomes a reality for universities in the UK, increasing importance is placed on the consideration given to the integrity of institutional protocols regulating decision making at all stages of student progression. The purpose of this paper is to outline the structures that are in place to provide an analysis of the issues that arise when these protocols are activated.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper first, provides a brief yet accessible overview of the literature concerning the institutions involved in student appeal, second, explains the principles that should be applied when using and analysing university protocols, third, analyses the role that mediation can play within the sector, and finally, discusses the disability dimension within a complaints context.

Findings

It can be seen that disputes between student and institution are on the rise for a number of reasons, be it finance, complexity of legislation or otherwise. The robust nature of what the office of the independent adjudicator (OIA) does seems evident from the lack of successful challenge by way of judicial review, even though the process has been held to be reviewable in a limited way at least. Perhaps this will give some reassurance to the aggrieved student that their version of events will be heard and judged fairly, but the overwhelming message to institutions must be to address potential issues early by means of well drafted protocols, management of student expectation and possibly the establishment of some sort of campus ombudsman which may help deter, deflect or even solve disputes. The role of the OIA seems here to stay and the amount of business it does is likely to increase.

Originality/value

Increasing importance is placed on the consideration given to the integrity of institutional protocols regulating decision making at all stages of student progression. A wide variety of elements can impact on the quality of service expected compared with that provided to a student cohort, and this results in a diversity of potential complaints which have to be covered by university protocols. The value of this paper lies in the applicability of the themes that are discussed.

Keywords

Citation

Van Hoorebeek, M., Gale, C. and Walker, S. (2011), "The role of mediation within university protocols concerning student complaints and appeals", Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 209-220. https://doi.org/10.1108/17504971111166938

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited