The Good Practice Framework sets out principles and operational guidance, drawing on our broad experience in handling complaints. As well as helping providers to develop their procedures and practice, it informs the way we consider complaints.
The Framework currently has six sections: Handling complaints and academic appeals, Delivering learning opportunities with others, Supporting disabled students, Requests for additional consideration, Disciplinary procedures, and Fitness to practise.
Each section has been developed with the help of our Good Practice Framework Steering Group, which has members from providers, student organisations and other higher education sector bodies. Sections are published in draft for public consultation, with submissions typically received from providers, student representative bodies, other higher education bodies, stakeholders and interest groups, and the final versions incorporate feedback we receive. We are very grateful to the members of our Steering Group, our Higher Education Advisory Panel, our Disability Experts Panel and all those who have contributed to the development of the Framework.
You can find webpage versions of each section in the boxes on the right, or access them as PDFs in English and Welsh under each section below.
We keep the Framework under review and we update and add to it from time to time.
The Good Practice Framework: Handling complaints and academic appeals
This first and main section of the Good Practice Framework is a guide to handling complaints and academic appeals in higher education in England and Wales. It sets out overriding principles and operational guidance to support providers in areas including timeframes, progression between informal, formal and review stages, and record-keeping.
This version of the Handling complaints and academic appeals section was published in 2016. We are reviewing and updating this section in 2022.
Supporting disabled students
This section of the Good Practice Framework outlines good practice guidance for providers to consider when supporting disabled students.
It includes guidance on how providers can remove obstacles to learning, and on supporting students before and during their studies, as well as on what to do when things go wrong.
The guidance was first published in 2017.We are grateful to our Disability Experts Panel for their help with developing this section.
Requests for additional consideration
This section of the Good Practice Framework outlines some good practice guidance for providers when considering students' requests for additional consideration (often called the “mitigating”, “extenuating” or “special circumstances” procedures, or “factors affecting performance”).
This section was published at the end of 2020 and informs the way that we consider complaints relating to requests for additional consideration from the 2021/22 academic year.
Fitness to practise
This section of the Good Practice Framework gives good practice guidance for providers in designing fitness to practise procedures and in handling individual cases. It is intended to help providers treat their students fairly, not to provide answers to what are often complex questions that involve professional judgment.
The section should be read alongside the Disciplinary procedures section, which sets out principles of procedural fairness. However, a fitness to practise process is distinct from a disciplinary process. The purpose of a fitness to practise process is not to punish the student for wrongdoing. It is to ensure the safety of the student and those around them, including members of the public, and to safeguard public confidence in the profession. The process should be supportive even when the outcome is that the student can't continue with their studies.
This section was first published in 2019.
This section of the Good Practice Framework gives good practice guidance for providers in designing disciplinary procedures and in handling individual cases.
- academic disciplinary procedures, for dealing with academic misconduct such as plagiarism, contract cheating, cheating in examinations or formal assessments, falsifying data, breaching research or ethics policies, and collusion; and
- non-academic disciplinary procedures, for dealing with misconduct such as antisocial, abusive or threatening behaviour, sexual misconduct, violence, harassment, hate crimes, behaviour likely to bring the provider into disrepute, damage to property or abuse of facilities, causing a health or safety concern, and other behaviour that might also be a criminal offence.
The section was first published in October 2018.
Delivering learning opportunities with others
This section of the Good Practice Framework outlines additional good practice guidance for providers to consider when handling complaints and academic appeals in the context of delivering learning opportunities in higher education with others. This guidance is for providers working with other providers or other awarding bodies, to deliver higher education provision. It does not set out prescriptive guidelines for every type of arrangement.
The section was first published in 2017.