Higher Education Law Solicitors
University and Higher Education Law Solicitors – How can we help?
Entering University these days has never been so expensive. Unfortunately, the cost of attending University has increased. With Tuition fee rises and the risks associated with the removal of Education Maintenance Allowance , the financial stakes and commitment has never been so great. We do now have Disabled Students allowance which can make a difference. However the process can be complicated. Sometimes it is important to seek the right help to guide you through.Higher education law solicitors can help.
It is the case, that one can expect in the future these costs will further increase This is all the more reason why as “paying customers” students may readily resort to the law if they feel that their university or college has not provided value for money. The benefit of using specialist University law experts, is that we understand how to achieve success and get the right results for students. The University usually will have a complaint, and internal appeal system. These rules sometimes are complicated, and if you challenge a decision beyond the University, you will usually have a right of appeal to the OIA (The office of the Independent Adjudicator).
University Law specialist solicitors – Why use an education law specialist?
The law relating to higher education law is extremely specialist. When using a solicitor you need to know they specialise in the subject and have a track record. Whether it is relating to special needs at University or a claim for breach of Equality you need an education law specialist team with a track record in this area. Sinclairslaw’s higher education law solicitors have been involved in these cases for decades.
The University Student – is there a contract?
Many perhaps do not appreciate that a contract exists between the student and a University. The contract will also contain implied terms such as to ensure that the student is properly “tutored” as well as “treated”. In cases where students undertake doctoral tracks or other post graduate training, the common complaint is that there was “inadequate supervision”. Other common complaints are that the University marked the student incorrectly or that the student was ill treated by staff members. All of these could amount to a breach of contract on the part of the Higher Education establishment. It might mean that the student can bring a claim for damages ( or in other words – financial compensation ). If you think you have a claim speak to one of our specialist Further and Higher University and College Solicitors. Another reason why higher education law solicitors are useful, is that if you consider using the courts, it is essential that the right advice is provided.
University appeals and fitness to practice – why use a specialist education lawyer?
Such much is at stake. Unlike for example doctors who can appear before oral hearings conducted by the GMC, students are often left without specialist representation, and even sometimes without a hearing. The route is only to the OIA which is not a court. It will rarely substitute its decision and will defer often to the “expertise!” of the University. It will not decide cases on breaches of equality, and will rarely hold a oral hearing to resolve disputes in the evidence. The task is to get help at the right time and by a team of Higher Education lawyer experts.
I have a complaint. What can I do
The first thing to do, is raise the complaint internally. Most Universities will have an internal complaint procedure which should be exhausted. Sometimes students need help when embarking on this process, as the complaint might be relating to matter which impacted on the students examination performance. It might be the case, that the student did not receive appropriate examination or other concessions to account for a disability that may have been known to the University.
Raise the University Complaint as soon as possible
This is important, because it might be said that the information that the student relies upon later was never made known to the examination board that sat to consider the students results. In such cases good reason would need to be given as to why there was late disclosure of the complaint.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator ( The OIA )
Once an internal complaint has taken its course, a student might appeal to the OIA ( The Office of the Independent Adjudicator ). There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Some argue that the procedure is not as effective as turning to the courts, but it is without doubt a cheaper course to adopt. It is however highly unlikely that this process will involve an actual oral hearing before the Adjudicator and less likely to involve the cross examination of witnesses which would otherwise occur in a court. If you seek to appeal to the OIA, you will need to do so within 12 months of the date of the completion of procedures letter which the University will issue.
University claims and the Courts
It is important to speak to a specialist higher education law solicitor if you feel that you wish to bring a claim before the court. There are very strict time limits to observe. Usually 6 years in cases of breach of contract or 3 years if the claim involves a personal injury element. Remember the claims against Universities are often complex thus it is vital that you speak to one of our higher education law solicitors; experts in Higher Education Law.
Specialist lawyers for the University and Further Education Student
Sinclairslaw (formerly Sinclairs Solicitors) are leading experts in education law, acting on a nationwide basis. We have helped scores of students throughout England, Wales as well as overseas students achieve fairness and justice in their education establishments. We have a team of Higher Education law solicitors based at our Welsh offices as well as within our London Twickenham offices.
How we can help you?
We are able to provide advice & guidance in many areas, the main ones are listed below:
- Unfairness relating to the university admissions system
- Student disciplinary proceedings
- Exclusions from University
- Dealing with allegations of cheating/plagiarism in examinations or dissertations
- Issues relating to grants or financial matters connected with higher education
- Academic appeals and complaints procedures
- Human Rights Act 1998 – which legislates on many issues, these include the respect for private and family life, the right to education, prohibition and discrimination, freedom of expression and of thought, conscience and religion, the prevention of inhuman and degrading treatment, and more importantly, the right to receive a fair hearing
- Claims relating to breach of contract or discrimination
- visitorial appeals – and the OIA – The office of the Independent Adjudicator
Whether you have difficulties ranging from disciplinary proceedings to academic appeals, or indeed a complaint that you have been let down by your college due to inadequate supervision or tuition. Perhaps the most fundamental right that any student should have, is the right to a fair hearing where you are able to state your case before an impartial appeal body.
The Human Rights Act and the University Student
We have mentioned above the right to a fair and impartial hearing. Following the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998, this remains a controversial area as a fine line needs to be drawn between when a dispute is about contractual rights and when it arises from the exercise of a public law function. The Human Rights Act of 1998 laid down certain requirements for publicity, independence and Impartiality and the holding of oral hearings. The right to a fair hearing is most likely to be held to apply in very serious disciplinary matters or where an academic appeal may effect the students ability to graduate or enter a profession. Universities have always been bound by what is known as the rules of natural justice or referred to as “due process’ in the United States. These are principles that ensure fairness and fair play so that students are aware in advance of the nature of any complaints that may be made against them or the case they have to meet. Students should be given the chance to put their own case or side of the story before an impartial tribunal. It is equally important that any tribunal gives full reasons for reaching its decision.
The law in relation to higher education can be a complicated maze, and it is important that when a student needs to take advice, they do so from a firm of higher education law solicitors who specialise in the area of the law.
Sinclairs Solicitors leading the way in Higher Education Law
Sinclairslaw’s higher education law solicitors have established a nationally recognised expertise in this complicated area of the law such that you can rest assured that your case is in safe hands. Therefore, if you need advice and assistance in relation to problems that you are experiencing in gaining admission or indeed during your time at university, then please feel free to contact us. Although the OIA will often argue that the use of lawyers is unecessary, the appeal process is becoming increasingly complicated. Legal advice is always useful and in our view often vital.