For a number of years, NPC has been endlessly campaigning for fair, transparent, consistent and timely complaints systems across the UKs higher education sector. At present this is far from complete, where in England there still exists a University Visitor system that applies to older pre-92 institutions. In such a scenario, if a student has a complaint that is not resolved by the University, rather than go to the courts, they must petition the Visitor. Their Visitor may be the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lady Warnock of Weekes, Lady Archer or some other prestigious character of similar status. The medieval system that started hundreds of years ago as an Ecclesiastical routine is long out-dated and the introduction of the office of the independent adjudicator, due to start operating in Summer 2004, is welcomed to remove the many problems that exist.
The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 was introduced to act as an arbiter in a number of public services includes education. A consultation has been released by the Scottish Executive, A new Complaints Landscape for Further and Higher Education in Scotland. Some questions are asked about the future of Scotlands higher education complaints system, which will be subject to discussion at the next NPC Scotland meeting. This will be reviewed in light of the serious complaints that occur over disputes between the supervisor and the research student, for which severe litigation can result.