Training Institution fails to adequately address a complaint about its course

Ombudsmen Act 1975
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Ombudsmen Act 1975
Tertiary institute
Leo Donnelly
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Whether a training institution failed to address a complaint made by a student—Ombudsman found the institution’s appeals and complaints processes to have been inadequate—the institution accepted the finding and agreed to re-hear the appeal and then refunded the complainant’s course fees in resolution of the complaint

The complainant made several complaints to the training institution about the quality of a course he had been attending and specifically about the standard of the tutor’s teaching. The institution received the complaints and considered that the allegations were incorrect. The complainant took the matter to appeal which upheld the original decision made by the complaints committee. The complainant remained dissatisfied with the outcome and complained to the Ombudsman about the way in which the complainant’s concerns had been addressed.

The Ombudsman advised the complainant that the issues concerning the standard of the teaching at the course could not be the subject of an investigation under the Ombudsmen Act, however the complaint about the institution’s complaints handling processes could be investigated.

Following his consideration of the material provided from the institution and the complainant, the Ombudsman concluded that the institution had failed to adequately address the concerns raised about the course, in accordance with correct procedures and in a timely manner. The Ombudsman found that the institution had also made incorrect assumptions and comments about the facts in the particular case and provided the complainant with no evidence to support the conclusions drawn. This seemed to be a case where the institution should accept responsibility for the tutor’s short-comings and for any disruption in the delivery of the programme which the complainant and his colleagues had experienced.

In resolution of the complaint, the training institution agreed to apologise to the complainant and to re-hear the appeal process. Furthermore, the training institute agreed to ensure that policies and practices would be in place to avoid a repeat of the experience the complaint had highlighted. The Ombudsman considered that this was an adequate remedy in the circumstances.


Following the conclusion of the Ombudsman’s investigation, the institution conducted its appeal and advised the complainant after that process, that it would offer the complainant a full refund of the complainant’s course fees as full and final settlement of the matter. The complainant agreed to accept this offer.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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