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Queen Margaret University launches world’s first masters degree for professional complaint handlers

Posted: 30th September 2014

Dispute resolution1

The Consumer Insight Centre at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, has launched the world’s first postgraduate degree for professional complaint handlers.

The new MSc Dispute Resolution is an accredited qualification for professionals in the workplace who deal with disputes between consumers and businesses and between citizens and the state.

Complaints about public services and private industry are big business.  The UK central government alone spends around £1.5 billion a year on professional dispute resolution.

The private sector also spends a significant amount on customer care and complaint handling activities.  The Financial Ombudsman Service received a whopping 2,357,374 complaints and enquiries last year.

QMU’s Consumer Insight Centre has been collaborating with colleagues from the ombudsman and complaint handling world to develop accredited qualifications for professional complaint handlers.  The University has a long standing relationship with the Ombudsman Association and the International Ombudsman Institute and regularly delivers courses to dispute resolution for professionals across the UK and beyond.

QMU is aiming to raise standards across the complaint handling industry by drawing on insights from its research and consultancy work. This includes the development of the University’s new MSc Dispute Resolution.

Chris Gill, MSc Dispute Resolution Course Leader at Queen Margaret University’s Consumer Insight Centre, said:  “There is clearly work to be done to improve standards across the complaint handling industry and the provision of professional education is only one piece in an undoubtedly complex puzzle.

“We feel that it’s now the right time to speed up effort to develop professionalism in the complaints sector. Ultimately, good complaint handling provides better public services and fair consumer markets.  It’s a crucial activity, which affects the everyday lives of consumers and citizens.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that – in years to come – a consumer can expect the same level of publicly assured professionalism when dealing with a complaint handler as they can when dealing with a lawyer, doctor or accountant. It is time to make this aspiration a reality.”

QMU will welcome its first MSc Dispute Resolution students in January 2015.  The unique course is available as a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc according to each student’s preferred outcome.  The Postgraduate Certificate is available entirely online, while the Postgraduate Diploma and MSc are available by a mix of online and campus-based modules.

The MSc Dispute Resolution will provide students with a qualification which is relevant to the workplace and will maximise students’ potential to develop within their existing or new careers, including public health services, housing associations and banking.

QMU’s business and consumer experts have expertise in Ombudsman training, Complaint Handling, Dispute Resolution and Consumer Affairs.

Dispute resolution falls within the work of QMU’s Consumer Insight Centre and the University’s Division of Business, Enterprise and Management.  The aim of the Centre is to be a nationally and internationally recognised leader in dynamic and innovative learning, knowledge exchange and research in consumer insight.

With an established reputation for high quality accredited training for ombudsman and complaint handling organisations, the Centre has provided accredited training for over 1000 ombudsman colleagues and CPD training for 700 regulatory staff during the last three years.

As the first academic institution to be licensed and approved for the provision of the Ombudsman Association case handler training courses, QMU holds a unique position in the university sector to run effective programmes for this sector and for organisations within the jurisdiction of ombudsman and complaint handling organisations.

For more information, visit: or email Chris Gill, MSc Dispute Resolution Course Leader at Queen Margaret University E:

Chris Gill

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