Complaining to SQA

Complaints cannot consider disagreement with an academic judgement (the grade(s) you have been awarded) for National Qualifications 2022. Please refer to our appeals process.

If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us. This leaflet describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you how we will handle your complaint and what you can expect from us.

Before raising a complaint, please check our frequently asked questions, or contact us to ask for help.

We handle complaints in line with requirements set by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This means there are things we can consider as being complaints and things we cannot.

You can complain to SQA about things like:

  • failure or refusal to provide a service
  • inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service
  • dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
  • failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
  • failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • the conduct or attitude of, or treatment by, a member of staff, appointee or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves
  • disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector).

Your complaint may involve more than one SQA service or be about someone working on our behalf.

What can't I complain about?

There are some things we can't deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:

  • disagreement with an academic judgment
  • a request for information or an explanation of an SQA policy, process or practice
  • an expression of dissatisfaction with a process for which another party is fully responsible, for instance, staffing issues within a centre
  • a complaint to a centre that has been escalated to SQA for regulatory investigation or action
  • a routine first-time request for a service
  • a request for compensation only
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process)
  • disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for freedom of information and subject access requests), or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts
  • a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
  • a concern raised internally by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern)
  • a concern about a child or an adult's safety
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
  • abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff where such actions would be covered by our Expected Behaviours Policy
  • a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf).

If there are other procedures or rights of appeal that can help you resolve your concerns, we will provide information and advice to help you.

Normally, 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 exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, you will need to explain why.

If you have read the information we've provided here, and would now like to make a complaint to SQA:

Complete our online complaints form.


Write to us at:

SQA Complaints
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
G2 8DQ

You can also email or phone 0345 279 1000

Complaining on behalf of someone else

We normally need written consent in the following situations:

Ask us for help

We want our service to be easily accessible for everyone. Please let us know when you make your complaint if you have specific needs and we will make reasonable adjustments where possible.

Other people/organisations who can help you

We know it can be difficult to make complaints and there are people who can help you. You could ask a friend, a relative, a councillor, your MSP or an advocate. To find out about advocates in your area, contact Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

When we get your complaint, we will make some checks to confirm:

  • It is a valid complaint in line with our guidance on what is/what is not a complaint.
  • It has arrived at our office within six months of when the issues in your complaint happened.
  • There is enough detail and paperwork for us to get to work on it.

When we assess that the matter is one we can look at, we will start gathering the information we will need for an investigation.


We'll then respond within:

  • five working days (most complaints)
  • 20 working days (complex complaints)

You'll be kept informed at every stage or if our investigation will take longer than 20 working days.

Timescale exceptions

We offer examination and registration services on behalf of other organisations. Most contracts follow our complaints process and timescales. But the following contracts require us to respond to you within 10 working days of receiving your complaint:

  • Dangerous Goods Driver Training
  • Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors
  • Petroleum Driver Passport Scheme

Everyone who contacts us has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.

Our staff have the same rights, and we must provide a safe working environment for our staff.

We know some people may have difficulties in expressing themselves or communicating clearly, especially when anxious or upset. We also understand that some people may find it difficult to identify what impact their behaviour might have on other people.

Our staff have the right to do their job without abuse or intimidation. We do not tolerate written or verbal harassment. Our staff have the right to end and report calls from abusive callers and to report abuse in email or social media. Our expected behaviours policy outlines how we will handle such instances.

Our expected behaviours policy explains how we address unacceptable actions towards our staff. 

We can send you a copy of this policy on request.