For the purposes of this policy, a complaint may be defined as "an expression of significant or sustained dissatisfaction where a student seeks a specific action to address the issue". The expression of dissatisfaction may take the form of an informal complaint (verbal or written e.g. email) or a formal, written complaint.
It is important to draw a distinction between a complaint and feedback. The University seeks and welcomes the views of its students. A student may provide feedback which will be useful to a school or service when reviewing its policies and operations, without invoking this policy. Students are encouraged to provide feedback at a Local Level to the appropriate school or service provider in a prompt and constructive manner.
2. Overview of the procedure
There are 3 Levels to the University complaints procedure:
Level 1: Local Level
Level 2: Head of School/Service review
Level 3: Faculty PVC/Registrar review
After the internal University processes have been exhausted, complainants have the opportunity to have their complaint independently reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).
To make a complaint a student must start at Level 1.
3. Who can use this procedure?
This complaints procedure may only be used by an individual who is, or has been, registered as a student of the University and who is not recorded as being a leaver (or, if they are a leaver, is complaining about events that occurred before they were a leaver, within the permitted timescales). Applicants wishing to make a complaint should address the Admissions feedback, complaints and appeals pages of the website for further information.
A group of students may use this procedure to make a collective complaint provided that one student identifies him/herself as the main contact for purposes of communication.
The University's expectation is that anyone wishing to make a complaint does so personally. In exceptional circumstances where a third party makes a complaint on behalf of a student we will require the student's express written consent that the third party is acting on their behalf and to allow us to refer to the details of their own specific case. Please note that all correspondence will be copied into the student as well as the third party unless otherwise agreed.
Anonymous complaints will not be considered.
4. What kind of complaints are excluded?
Students have the right to appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee for a review of a final decision of an academic body charged with making decisions on assessment, progression and awards and the Academic Appeals Policy should be used in these cases. However, complaints relating to the quality of teaching or supervision, or other circumstances that relate to the delivery of a programme of study before the point of assessment or the submission of a thesis or dissertation should be raised under the Complaints Procedure. It is expected that students make informal and contemporaneous attempts to resolve such issues within one month of the occurrence of the events to which the complaint relates. It is then expected that any formal complaints concerning the events are received in accordance with the Student Complaints Procedure within one month of the informal outcome.
If a student does not dispute that a University policy or regulation has been fairly and correctly applied to them, but does not agree with the policy itself, the matter should be raised by the student with the relevant student representative to raise it at the Learning Community Forum, or another appropriate committee or group. The Complaints procedure should not be used in these circumstances.
This procedure may not be invoked in relation to complaints about non-academic matters by students who are studying by collaborative arrangement and who are studying away from the University at partner institutions.
Complaints associated with the Policy of Dignity within the University should be sent in the first instance to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be referred to the HR Department for investigation, where appropriate.
For matters of public interest, a student may feel that the matter is better suited to the Public Interest Disclosure Code (‘whistleblowing’).
Complaints may not be accepted if the remedy sought is beyond the power of the University to deliver.
Complaints should be treated seriously and students must not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as a result of making a complaint in good faith. However, students are required to abide by the principles of the Code of Discipline for students in making their complaint.
In all cases, it is desirable that complaints are resolved informally and quickly between the relevant parties, and that the formal process is only started if that fails.
Only complaints presented on the appropriate official forms will be dealt with as formal complaints; the forms can be found within the complaints process.
Students are encouraged to seek advice from the relevant local student body at any stage in the complaints process, including advice on how to present their case effectively.
When a complaint is upheld, part of the resolution may involve reporting the circumstances to a Board of Examiners or other academic body for consideration in their decision making processes.
There may be times when a student submits a complaint, the subject of which is actually an appeal, or vice versa. In these cases, the University may decide to reclassify the complaint or appeal, at whatever stage of the procedure that has been reached, and the University will inform the student of this.
6. Recording and monitoring of complaints
It is important that the number, Level and range of complaints are monitored in order to improve the student experience. The Complaints and Conduct Team will record complaints on a central database and report from it (without divulging the details of specific complainants) to indicate the nature of complaints and complainants, and resultant action. Such reports will:
- Feed into the monitoring and evaluation procedure at various Levels: department, school, faculty, University;
- Feed directly into appropriate University-wide committees;
- Assist in identifying problems and trends across the University;
- Form the basis of positive publicity, in demonstrating that identified issues have been resolved;
- Be made available to the Students’ Union.