Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
In conjunction with Attempt to Get My Money Back
My experience of the University Ombudsman leads me to believe that they are just as bureaucratic and obstructive as Universities themselves.
In 2002, Portsmouth University disabled Java on their internet system. Since Java was fundamental to a Ph.D project I was engaged on, this killed my project stone dead. I had no option other than to leave and I asked them to refund my fees (3,000 pounds). They ignored me.
After several years, they finally responded by stating that they had not heard from me since the end of my studies in September 2003, and were going to shut down communications - they would not respond to me any further. These ‘facts’ were incorrect, I had actually left in 2002 and had submitted my request for refund by recorded delivery
This later letter from the University was the required ‘letter of closure’ required by the University Ombudsman, so I appealed to them for help.
They replied that they would not help me since I had not applied to the University in good time. The only way that a person like me could interpret that would be to assume that the Ombudsman had taken the University’s word as gospel and ignored what I said.
So I complained. The Ombudsman then said that I had shown no evidence that I had complained. This obviously increased my frustration because I had clearly enclosed a copy of the relevant recorded delivery slip. Furthermore, they seemed quite happy to come up with yet another reason against me - this had all happened three years before and was therefore invalid
So I had to ask for clarification again. This time they said that my request for a refund was not a complaint but a request for refund. I think we are in ‘we are not at war with Egypt - we are engaged in a military dispute with them’ territory
Complaints in other directions have produced the statement that my complaint should have been submitted on an ‘internal complaints form’ and was therefore not considered as a complaint - you can write into the University for such a form. The problems I have with this are
- I had left so it doesn’t strike me as logical that I should have to submit an internal complaint
- It would have clear from my complaint that I was indeed making a serious complaint, so it would have been as clear as day that I therefore required a form if that is what they required – surely they should then have been obliged to send me such a form, rather than just completely ignoring me.
So anyway, I sent another letter to the Ombudsman (the fourth letter) asking them to confirm that if after three years the complaint becomes invalid, surely there is then a loophole – the ‘masters of delay’ can exploit this to nullify a valid complaint (which could be what has happened here) No reply was received (so they have even more in common with Portsmouth University – see end of second paragraph)
see Attempt to Get My Money Back