Regulations Governing the Council Grievance Procedure
1. Purpose of these Regulations
These regulations set out the way in which the Council Grievance Procedure shall be conducted, under the terms of Ordinance XXIII.
For the purposes of these Regulations the following terms have meanings as indicated:
a) "Appellant": a student who intends to initiate Council Grievance Procedure;
b) "grievance": a grievance may only be made about the appeal or review, not about the original decision, since any complaint about that will already have been dealt with by the appeal or review;
c) "Appeal letter": the appellant's written case setting out their grievance;
d) "Original decision-maker": either the person (such as a Head of School) or a body (such as an Examiners' Board) which took the original decision, and which will have formed the basis of the earlier appeal or review;
e) "Reviewer": the person or body which conducted the appeal or review; in the case of an appeal or review conducted by a Committee or other group, the Chair of that body shall be identified as the Reviewer for the purpose of these Regulations;
f) "Student" : a student, or a former student, or a graduate.
3. Initiating the Council Grievance Procedure
a) The appellant must send their Appeal letter to the Registrar within thirty working days of the appellant receiving notification of the decision against which they wish to appeal. An Appeal letter submitted after this without good reason may be rejected.
b) The Appeal letter should set out clearly and succinctly the relevant facts and grounds of the grievance. It must explain how the grounds of the grievance meet those set out in Ordinance XXIII, and it must identify both the original decision-maker and the Reviewer.
c) The Council Grievance Procedure will be administered by a Secretary appointed by the Registrar from his/her staff. The Secretary will be the formal link between the appellant and the Council Grievance Committee and will keep the appellant informed, in writing, of progress and of the final outcome.
4. Establishing grounds
a) The Secretary will conduct an initial review of the grounds set out in the appeal letter, and will either:
- i) write to the appellant confirming that a hearing under the Council Grievance Procedure will be held, and setting out details of the next steps and arrangements; or
ii) request further information from the appellant in order to clarify the scope or grounds, before referring it as above;or
iii) recommend to the Chair of the Council Grievance Committee that the grievance should be rejected on the basis that they have not established sufficient grounds.
If the Chair accepts this recommendation the appellant will be so advised, but will be given one further opportunity to submit a revised appeal letter within a time limit of one month from the date of the initial refusal by the Chair of the Panel, after which any attempt to submit such a revised appeal letter will be refused.
If the Chair then determines that such a revised appeal letter contains sufficient grounds the hearing will proceed. If the Chair determines that the revised appeal letter does not contain sufficient grounds the appellant will be advised that the grievance is rejected for want of sufficient grounds, and that there is no further internal appeal. At any stage the Chair may consult a standing panel established for the purpose from the membership of Council.
b) Discretion will be exercised in the appellant's favour in any case of doubt. Any decision to reject an appeal at this stage on the basis of insufficient grounds will be reported to Council.
5. Documents for the Hearing
a) If the hearing proceeds then the Secretary will refer the appeal letter to the Reviewer asking them for a written response to the matters contained in it.
b) The Secretary will acquire the full set of papers considered at the appeal or review stage by the reviewer.
c) The Secretary may also acquire and provide other relevant documentation to the Council Grievance Committee, provided that the appellant also receives copies in good time.
d) The set of papers for the Council Grievance Procedure will comprise:
i) the appeal letter;
ii) the written response from the Reviewer;
iii) the set of papers considered at the appeal or review stage by the Reviewer;
iv) any other documents provided by the Secretary under 5(c) above;
v) a copy of these regulations.
e) The Secretary will circulate papers for the appeal prior to the hearing to the Committee members, the appellant, and the original decision maker, normally at least 10 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
f) All those present at the appeal hearing will have access to the same written material.
6. Composition of the Council Grievance Committee
a) The Council Grievance Committee will comprise a lay member of Council as Chair and at least two and not more than three other members, at least one of whom shall be an academic member of Council. Different individual members may form the Committee (including the Chair) for different cases.
b) The Secretary is not a member of the Committee, but will be present throughout the proceedings.
c) Any member of Council who has been personally involved in the individual appellant’s case at any prior stage will not be eligible to be a member of the Committee for that case.
d) For the purposes of determining if there are adequate grounds (see 4 above), one individual lay member of Council shall be nominated as "Chair" for that purpose; that individual need not neccessarily act as Chair of any particular hearing.
7. Attendance at the Hearing
a) The appellant
- i) The appellant will receive by recorded delivery a written invitation from the Secretary to attend the hearing in person, and will be asked to confirm in writing his/her intention to attend, or not.
ii) The Secretary will also inform the appellant of the names and status of the panel members for their hearing. The appellant should inform the Secretary of any conflicts of interest, such as panel members who have been involved in the original decision making or who are connected with the appellants’ School.
iii) The appellant is entitled to have a person of their choosing to accompany and/or represent them at the hearing. The appellant should confirm the name and status of the person accompanying them in writing to the Secretary.
iv) With the prior agreement of the Chair, the appellant may call upon other persons to attend the hearing in order to provide the Committee with relevant information. The appellant should confirm the name and status of the person(s) in writing to the Secretary and explain the reason for calling them.
v) Appellants with a disability may also be accompanied by a support worker (eg a sign language interpreter or mental health worker) as appropriate to their needs.
b) Attendance of the Reviewer
i) The Reviewer is required to attend the hearing, to speak to their written response, and to answer questions.
ii) With the prior agreement of the Chair, the Reviewer may call upon other persons to attend the hearing in order to provide the Committee with relevant information. The Reviewer should confirm the name and status of the person(s) in writing to the Secretary and explain the reason for calling them.
c) Absence of the appellant or Reviewer
i) If the appellant has told the Secretary in writing that s/he does not wish to attend, the hearing will proceed in the appellant's absence. The Chair has a duty to ensure that members of the Committee are fully aware of all the facts, and will rehearse the points made in the appellant's letter.
ii) If the appellant chooses not to attend, any person nominated to accompany or represent them may only do so at the discretion of the Chair.
iii) If the appellant has indicated his/her intention to attend, but is prevented from doing so for good reason and contacts the Secretary before the meeting to that effect, the Chair has discretion to defer consideration of the case and to agree alternative arrangements for a hearing. The Chair will have discretion as to what constitutes "good reason".
iv) If the appellant has indicated his/her intention to attend, but fails to attend without good reason, the Committee will consider the case in the appellant's absence. The Chair will have discretion as to what constitutes a "good reason".
v) If the Reviewer has indicated his/her intention to be present, or has been required to attend, but is absent from the hearing, the Chair will have discretion as to whether the hearing should proceed in their absence, or be deferred.
8. Procedure for conduct of the Hearing
This section defines the steps to be followed during the Councul Grievance Procedure hearing itself. The Chair has discretion to vary these arrangements as s/he thinks fit in the light of the specific circumstances:
a) The Secretary will meet the appellant (if attending) outside the meeting before the hearing and will offer to explain the procedure, check that the appellant has copies of the documents circulated to members of the Committee and, if not, provide a set.
b) If either the Reviewer and/or the appellant has obtained prior agreement from the Chair to call upon other persons with relevant information to attend the hearing, the Chair will decide if they may attend throughout the proceedings until all parties withdraw, or whether they shall attend the meeting only while they give such relevant information.
c) The Chair will ask if any member of the Committee has been personally involved in the appellant's case at any prior stage and, if so, will ask them to withdraw for the duration of the case.
d) The Secretary will escort the appellant (if attending), the person accompanying/representing them (if attending), and the Reviewer into the meeting together.
e) The Chair will introduce by name and explain the functions of the members of the Committee, the staff, and any others present.
f) The Chair will explain the powers of the Committee.
g) The Chair will tell the appellant that the Committee will take their case to be as set out in their appeal letter, and will ask if they wish to make a brief opening statement, or whether they wish the person accompanying/representing them to do so on their behalf. If the person accompanying/representing the appellant makes the statement, the Chair will ask the appellant if they wish to add anything.
h) Members of the Committee will be invited to question the appellant. If the appellant is accompanied by other persons with relevant information, they will be afforded the opportunity to make a brief opening statement, and be questioned.
i) The Chair will invite the Reviewer to make a brief opening statement, and will then invite the Committee to ask questions. If the Reviewer is accompanied by other persons with relevant information, they will be afforded the same opportunity, and may be questioned.
j) At each stage the Chair has discretion to allow reciprocal questioning by the various parties.
k) The Chair will ensure that the members of the Committee have completed their questioning.
l) The Chair will ask the Reviewer, and then the appellant (or the person accompanying/representing them) if they wish to make any closing statement, and ask them to confirm that they have had a full opportunity to explain their case to the Committee.
m) The Chair will explain that the Committee's decision will be conveyed to the appellant and to the Reviewer in writing and will ask everyone except the members and the Secretary to leave the meeting, but will ask them to wait for a reasonable period in case the Committee wishes to recall them for further questioning. To avoid unneccessary waiting the Chair will determine as soon as possible that their further attendance is not required.
n) The Committee will discuss the case.
o) If for any reason during its discussion the Committee requires clarification of any aspect of the case, by further questioning either the appellant or the Reviewer, they must both be invited back into the meeting while the questioning takes place, together with any representative or accompanying person. They will then all leave the meeting again.
p) The Committee will make its decision.
q) The decision, and any findings of fact, will be conveyed to the appellant and the reviewer as soon as possible, in writing and by recorded delivery in the case of the appellant, within five working days. If an appeal is disallowed reasons will be given in writing. If the appeal is upheld, then the Secretary will write to the reviewer requesting them to take the necessary action as determined by the Committee, which for this purpose acts with the authority of Council.
r) A report on the outcome of the appeal will be made to Council.
9. Powers of the Council Grievance Committee
a) The Committee acts with the authority of Council. It has the power to require any member of staff of the University to make a written submission, to attend the hearing, to give evidence, and to answer questions.
b) If the Committee upholds the grievance it will refer the case back to the reviewer for the case to be reconsidered afresh in the light of its findings.
c) If the Committee does not uphold the grievance, the Committee will confirm the decision of the reviewer.
10. Further steps of Appeal
a) There is no further internal appeal available beyond the Council Grievance Committee.
b) An appellant who wishes to pursue a grievance further must do so with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA operates an independent student complaints scheme pursuant to the Higher Education Act 2004. For more information please refer to the following web site: http://www.oiahe.org.uk/
Link: Ordinance XXIII