Making a Complaint

We aim to get things right first time. However, sometimes things can go wrong. If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received from Student Finance NI, you can submit a complaint.

How to make a complaint

Complaints regarding applications and processing are handled by the Education Authority (EA), for example if you feel that you have been treated unfairly or experienced an unreasonable delay.

There are several ways to make a complaint to your EA:

  • Online: Fill in the complaints form
  • By email:
  • By phone:Call the Complaints office on 028 8241 1472
  • By post:Complaints Office, 1 Hospital Road, Omagh, Co Tyrone, BT79 0AW

You must make your complaint within six months of:

  • the event you want to complain about; or
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain

In some circumstances, the EA may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please advise why.

If you wish to make a complaint related to repaying your student loan, you’ll have to contact the Student Loans Company (SLC). You can find out about their complaints procedure on the Student Loans Company page on GOV.UK.

Information you need to include in your complaint

To help the EA deal with your complaint quickly, please give as much information as possible to help them to understand the issue.

You should include:

  • your full name, contact details and Customer Reference Number (if you have one)
  • details of what happened and when – include everything you want us to consider or investigate what outcome you feel would make matters right

What happens next?

The EA will tell you who is dealing with your complaint. The complaints procedure has two stages.

Stage 1: Frontline response
The EA will always try to respond to your complaint quickly, within five working days if they can. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong or taking immediate action to resolve the problem. If you are dissatisfied with the response, you can ask them to consider your complaint at Stage 2.

You must ask the EA to consider your complaint at Stage 2:

  • within two months of receiving your Stage 1 response; or
  • within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain

Stage 2: Investigation
The EA will look at your complaint at this stage if you are dissatisfied with their response at Stage 1.

They will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days. They’ll investigate the complaint and give you their decision as soon as possible. This will be after no more than 25 working days unless there is good reason for needing more time.

What to do if you're still not satisfied

If the EA has provided their final decision and you remain dissatisfied with the outcome or the way your complaint has been handled, you can escalate it to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO). They are an independent organisation that reviews the handling of complaints.

NIPSO will review your complaint to determine whether it needs investigation. Although you have the right to approach NIPSO at any time, they will not usually take on a case which has not first been through the EA’s Complaints Procedure.

Complainants must bring their complaint to NIPSO within 6 months of completion of the EA’s internal complaints process; however, NIPSO may investigate a complaint outside the time limit if there are special circumstances that would make it proper to do so. The matter must also not have been (and is not being) considered in court.