There have been five previous occasions where providers were considered non-complaint with OIA recommendationsLouis Ashworth

Clare College “refused to comply” with recommendations from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) following complaints of their handling of a student’s suspension, the 2020 OIA report stated.

The OIA, who offer free consultation for University students in England and Wales, independent of higher education institutions, made three recommendations following the complaint of an unnamed student.

The OIA made two recommendations relating to the student being permitted to return to study, as well as recommending that the College pay the student £3,000 for “distress and inconvenience.” Although the student was permitted to return, the report states that the financial recommendation was not accepted by the College.

Speaking to Varsity about their experience, the student, who was not identified in the report due to the small size of the College, described the experience as “harrowing,” detailing that the College had “torn me [the student] from my friends, my coping strategies and every bit of support I was getting.”

They added: “I don’t trust the college at all, I’m scared to go to them with anything now,” and that “this situation really highlighted to me that being disabled and a person of colour in Cambridge is awful.”


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The report outlines the complaints received by the review body, alongside identifying trends in the issues raised. This year’s report placed particular emphasis on the impact of the pandemic on their findings.

In response to the College’s decision, the OIA expressed their “hope that even at this late stage Clare College will reconsider its position and pay the student the compensation we recommended in recognition of the distress and inconvenience they have suffered.”

In a personal letter from Clare’s Master received by the student, the College maintained that the intermission was in the student’s best interests and that Clare did not plan to pay the additional £3,000.

In line with OIA’s Compliance Protocol, the College’s failure to comply led to their actions being reported to the OIA’s Board in March this year. Previously, there have been five occasions where providers were unintentionally non-compliant or caused serious delay in compliance to OIA recommendations, two of which related to issues directly linked to students.

Varsity has contacted Clare College and the University of Cambridge for comment.