office of the independent adjudicator (OIA) completely unfit for purpose? Watch

alma mater
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#61
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#61
The FOIA and DPA are useful for getting your uni to disclose information, Don't expect the OIA to ask your uni for anything other than the minimum they can get away with. In my case the OIA left most questions unanswered, and then it was too late for me use the FOIA and DPA to get answers to the questions that the OIA should have asked and then received answers to. Your uni and the OIA will work in concert against you - you have to work smart and quickly to beat them.
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deinma_a
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#62
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#62
Hello, I just filled a complaint with the OIA. You sound like your quite familiar with their process, would it be possible to discuss some matters with you?
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alma mater
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#63
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#63
Yes, go ahead.
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alma mater
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#64
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#64
Breaking news today: Judy Clements, Independent Adjudicator and Chief Executive of the OIA has quit her job with no notice and no proper explanation. See immediate press release on the OIA website. Over the past few weeks I have been in detailed correspondence with my MP about continuing OIA misconduct/misinformation. He has been forwarding my letters to her, since her colleagues refused to communicate with me directly. Is it a coincidence that the top dog at the UK's education ombudsman has done a runner after my MP has agreed to help me on this matter? Maybe, but watch this space to find out!
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LeoFernandes
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#65
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Alma Mater - I currently have a case against the OIA. I share your goals and would like to work with you. Please pm me.
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alma mater
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#66
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#66
Hi Leo
Thanks for your post.
I would be more than happy to discuss things further with you. I am, however, wary of sharing my email with people I don't know. I have been stung in the past and am now just a bit cautious.
My goal is to bring the OIA to heal - to make them behave fairly and with decency in their dealings with students. I will not stop until this happens.
If you would like to discuss things (e.g your case and concerns about the OIA) on this site, then I would like that, and if you want any help/advice I will do my best to provide it.
Get back to me if you are amenable to this.

Regards
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alma mater
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#67
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That should of course read: bring them to heel. The OIA are after all much better at injuring than healing, as any student who has wandered too close will know.
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alma mater
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#68
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#68
I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your university and the OIA. You have my respect for your tenacity in fighting for justice and I really hope the OIA come back to you with a more reasonable decision. You are clearly very knowledgeable about the OIA process and the serious problems with it. When are you expecting your final decision from the OIA? As one of your goals you are obviously wanting a fair amount of compensation and an admission that the University had done things wrong. Tell me what else you want from the OIA.
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LeoFernandes
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#69
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#69
Compensation, an apology, a complaint that is justified. The OIA in my view are highly unlikely to adhere to my requests. Despite my requests, I have not been given an estimated date regarding the final decision. I have been involved with all this for a while, therefore have not fallen into any of these traps concerning DPA and FOIA like you unfortunately did. If I can't change the OIA, I honestly don't think anyone can using this method. I have learnt a lot from your posts on this thread however and our effort combined would be far stronger in my view.
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alma mater
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#70
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#70
Thanks for your reply Leo. Sadly, I share your cynicism about the OIA adhering to your requests. You are right about the DPA and the FOIA - we should learn from our mistakes and it should make us stronger. The OIA are of course not subject to the FOIA, and this they use to great shielding effect. Nonetheless they are run by people who are not intellectually up for the longer fight, and I intend to give them a fight that they will not win and never forget. I will get in touch with you shortly, as I do agree that together we are stronger than alone. In the meantime I am waiting for some more important information, which I will share with you.
The OIA have shut down all direct written communication with me but they are being forced to communicate with me via my MP. In their last response they stated the following:

' We recognise that the language of the OIA's Rules is currently quite complex. You may be interested to know that we are in the process of REVISING the Rules to take account of changes in legislation and we intend to introduce MUCH simpler language and style as part of that process.'

I telephoned them anonymously (they put the phone down when they realise it is me) to ask when this was going to happen and when there was going to be a public consultation (required by the Higher Education Act 2004) on this. I was informed that there was NOT going to be any changes or any public consultation. My MP has forwarded another detailed letter to them about this and many other issues.
Bear in mind that the OIA, in their Strategic Plan, promise to be 'clear in all that we say and do.' They clearly don't practice what they preach - at least not yet!

I also tried to find out whether Judy Clements was pushed or did she jump. At the moment no answer. I will bend the OIA into behaving fairly or I will bring the whole rotten edifice down.

Keep fighting my friend.
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alma mater
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#71
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Eversheds are the solicitors that act for and with the OIA. In a question and answer session some years ago Eversheds said the following.

Q. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current system?

A.'...We suspect that some complainants regard the system as somewhat slow and cumbersome. However, we believe most institutions would doubt whether the system could be greatly speeded up without...... some cutting in the administrative process.'

What that is clearly saying is if you try to rush cases to completion you will sacrifice quality of service and quality of decision making.

By the end of 2014 the OIA were closing around 39% of cases within 6 months. By the end of 2016 this had risen to 75% of cases. That is greatly speeded up by anyone's reckoning.

The OIA's own lawyers were warning that quality would probably be sacrificed for speed - and they were right.

I shall also be contacting Eversheds shortly to ask them whether the 2015 Rules are in the process of being revised as the OIA has told my MP. Let's see how fast the shutters go up!
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alma mater
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#72
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As expected Eversheds have not replied.

Sadly my MP is dragging his feet on sending my further letter to the OIA. It won't stop me, and I will get answers because I will keep on at him every week until I do.
If the OIA are in the process of revising the Rules, then they are breaking the law, and if they are not in the process of revising the Rules then they have lied to my MP in writing. I will post which it is, sooner or later.
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LeoFernandes
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#73
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Contact me today Alma Mater. I think I can help you more than your MP.
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alma mater
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#74
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I promise you I will contact you Leo, but I need to sort a few things out first.
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LeoFernandes
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#75
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Sure. My main concern is that I won't be able to help you by the time you do. As it stands, I believe I can. As I'm sure you know, time barring concerns is a significant tactic the OIA uses.
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alma mater
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#76
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The OIA keeps telling everyone it is fair and independent. This is of course complete rubbish, and mounting evidence proves this to be the case. Here's another piece of evidence to add to the growing list. On the OIA website there are two columns of information: one for students and one for providers (universities) and student unions. Under the column for providers and student unions they invite these two groups to their many policy seminars and workshops. How lovely. What is not so lovely is that students are not invited (they are actively excluded) to these policy making seminars. How can the OIA keep a straight face when it encourages universities and their stooges, the student unions, to help make and inform OIA policy and decision making, whilst explicitly excluding students from this? Fair and independent my backside.

In the next few days: how the Condemn and Tory Government have further betrayed students by not absorbing the disgraceful and dysfunctional OIA into the new Office for Students (OfS) under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. Another appalling stitch-up of students.
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alma mater
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#77
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This from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills - Case for Creation of the Office for Students (OfS):

Annex c:

'In the case of the OIA, good practice dictates that the ombudsman role should ideally be kept separate from that of the regulator to maintain independence..... The OIA as it stands is not a government owned or government funded body - it would therefore be neither deregulatory nor efficient to bring into government control a function which is currently paid for and managed effectively by the sector itself.'

What absolute rubbish.
The OIA is not independent - it is an establishment organisation that parasites its income directly from the student, from student tuition fees, but dances to the tune of those who run universities. The OIA is not only free from public scrutiny, via the FOIA, but it is free from any form of fair scrutiny. It is overseen by its Board of Governors - all establishment figures with vested interests in shutting down student complaints.
Students represent the future of this country and yet they are treated like dirt by the Government, who see them as second class citizens with no right or access to justice. Shame on all of those who run and defend the OIA.
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alma mater
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#78
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Thanks for this Leo. Interesting stuff. No public interest in why Judy Clements left the OIA without notice? Oh there is interest, as we know, and there will soon be a lot more. If she had given notice of her leaving, or at least sufficient notice, there would have been time to find and appoint a new Independent Adjudicator, instead of the interim comedy double act Mitchell and Elger. If she had given notice of leaving this should also have been recorded in the Minutes of the Board of the OIA meetings in June or September 2017. Also, where has she gone? The press release merely states that she is looking forward to new challenges. Like what? People like her with her 'distinguished' professional background of moving from one quango to another do not just disappear without trace and for no good reason. If she had given notice she would almost certainly have found another high profile job - not be looking for one. There is something very fishy indeed going on here, and the truth will come out sooner or later. She was either pushed or she jumped.
Let's see if they do respond to you by 24 November. I will do everything I can to try and assist you in your case. The OIA like to get everything there own way - let's make sure this does not continue.
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alma mater
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#79
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Judy Clements was still in her job on 21 September 2017, because that is the date on her letter to my MP. That letter is signed by her. My MP sent me a copy of this letter on the 27 September. I wrote back to my MP on the same day asking him to forward another letter from me to her. This was done on 28 September. I received a copy of a response from the OIA from my MP on 11 October. This response was unsigned and undated. Stylistically I can say with some certainty it was written by Ben Elger, the now interim Chief Executive. As I said in one of my earlier posts on this site, I do not know whether my correspondence to the OIA, sent via my MP, (because the OIA refuse to communicate with me directly) has anything to do with Ms Clements' disappearance, but my MP also considers it to be a very strange coincidence. When my MP gets round to sending my further letter to the OIA there should hopefully be more info. If the OIA decide to shut down correspondence with him, then I will ratchet up the pressure even further by contacting the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner. If the Labour Party are truly the party for students, then they will help me hold the OIA to account. If they are not, then I will contact the media to hold them all to account. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.
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LeoFernandes
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#80
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Alma Mater, yep, hopefully il be putting the pressure as well through court action. Are there any questions I have not asked the OIA that you think I should? After they close my case next week, they will only be obliged to respond to a forthcoming pre-action protocol letter. The more they dodge questions, the worse it will look on them to a future judge. So let me know of any questions of yours to them, which I haven't already asked, which they seem to be purposely dodging. I can ask them these; unlike you, they have to respond to me as my case is still with them.
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