Quality Manual

Policy on applicant complaints

This page contains the University's policy on applicant complaints. Its content is primarily directed at applicants but may also be of interest to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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1. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, an applicant complaint is:

"an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more applicants about a university's action or lack of action, or about the service provided by or on behalf of the university." 


2. Overview of the Applicant complaints procedure

Includes: Level 1; Level 2; Level 3; link to the Applicant complaints procedure page

 There are 3 Levels to the University complaints procedure:

  • Level 1: Local Level
  • Level 2: Head of School/Service (or equivalent at University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC)/University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM)) review
  • Level 3: Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor/Registrar (UNUK)/Faculty Dean/Director of Academic Services (UNM) / equivalent (UNNC) 

For more detailed information about the procedure, please consult the following page:

Applicant complaints procedure


3. Who can use the Applicant complaints procedure?

 Applicants to any of The University of Nottingham campuses may use this procedure. 

Anyone wishing to make a complaint is encouraged to do so personally. Where a third party (such as a parent or guardian) makes a complaint on behalf of an applicant, the applicant’s express written consent that the third party is acting on their behalf will be required. All correspondence will be copied to the applicant as well as to their representative unless otherwise agreed.

Anonymous complaints will not be considered unless there are exceptional and evidence-based reasons to do so.  In many circumstances, raising a concern anonymously could impede investigation and communication of the outcome.


4. What issues constitute grounds for complaint under this policy?

Includes: Dignity at Nottingham Policy

The subject of the complaint should relate specifically to one or more of the following, or comparable issues:

  • Failure of the University to meet obligations 
  • Misleading or incorrect information in prospectuses or promotional material and other information provided by the University
  • Concerns about the application or interview process
  • Complaints involving other organisations or contractors providing a service on behalf of the University

Complaints relating to allegations of bullying, harassment or victimisation by members of staff are associated with the Dignity at Nottingham Policy within the University and should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources.

If the complaint is within the scope of the Dignity at Nottingham Policy and informal resolution is not appropriate then a formal investigation in accordance with the policy will be undertaken. Student Services will be informed that a complaint has been made and against whom, (no further details will be divulged).

Once the Dignity Investigation Procedure has been completed, if the applicant’s allegations are proven, then the applicant may bring a level 2 complaint relating to the impact of the behaviour on their application within one month of the date of the outcome letter.

For more information about the Dignity at Nottingham Policy, please consult the following:


5. What issues do not constitute grounds for complaint under this policy?

Challenges to the academic judgement of a member of staff and/or School, including the outcome of an admissions decision. 

Disagreement with a policy/regulation rather than its application. 

A matter of public interest which may be better suited to the Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) Code. For more information, please consult the following:

Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) Code


6. Principles of this policy

Complaints should be treated seriously and applicants must not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as a result of making a complaint in good faith. It is expected that applicants and their representatives will conduct themselves responsibly and treat the complaints process and those members of the University involved in the process with respect at all times. 

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. Evidence of an attempt at informal resolution will be required.

Complaints must be substantiated with evidence, expressed in clear and succinct English and submitted within prescribed timescales.

Complaints submitted outside of the timescales stipulated in the procedure will only be considered in the most exceptional circumstances and where there is good reason, supported by evidence, for the late submission.

The University is committed to ensuring that complaints are handled in accordance with its published procedure. Occasionally, it may be sensible for the University to deviate from procedure if strict adherence to it could give rise to perceptions of prejudice or bias. Complaint procedures are internal to a university and do not have the same degree of formality as a court of law. As such, legal representation in meetings is not necessary or appropriate for a applicant or the University during the complaints process and will not, therefore, be permitted.

The University will not accept or investigate complaints which it considers frivolous or vexatious and observes Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) OIA guidance to identify such complaints. For more information, please consult the following:

Office of the Independent Adjudicator

Complaints form part of the University's process of quality review and improvement and are considered as providing valuable feedback rather than criticism.  

Applicants will be notified early in the process if the remedy sought within the complaint is beyond the power of the University to deliver.


7. Recording and monitoring of complaints

It is important that complaints are monitored in order to improve the applicant experience. Admissions will record and provide reports 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
If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:
This content was last modified on 12 April 2022

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