During your time at University you may experience situations or behaviours about which you are unhappy. Problems may arise around a whole range of situations. Often these problems can be resolved informally and directly with the person involved. However, sometimes a more formal approach is required. The guidance below is aimed at helping you through this process
The University Student Complaints Policy defines a complaint as “an expression of dissatisfaction or concern that needs a response”.
The Complaints Process
The University arranges it's Student Complaints Procedure over a number of levels. You are asked to start at the ‘Local Level’ (Level 1) and only proceed to the following level if unhappy with the given outcome.
Level 1: Attempt a resolution with the person directly concerned
Raising concerns early on and informally is often the quickest and easiest way to resolve problems; as such the University encourages students to address the issues directly with the person involved. You should be prepared to explain clearly what the problem is and what outcome you are seeking. The University ask that you do this within 1 month of the issue arising. You may wish to seek the support of your personal tutor or a Students’ Union Education Adviser. The University expects the member of staff to listen to the complaint and try and resolve it wherever possible. You will be notified of their response with 6 weeks
Level 2: Head of School/Service formal review
If you are unhappy with the way in which your informal complaint was handled, you have the right to request a formal written review by the Head of School/Service.
In order to do this you are required to complete a Level 2 Complaints Form within one month of having received the outcome of the Local Level complaint. This is your opportunity to document the matter in question including:
- what the complaint is;
- what the supporting evidence is;
- why informal resolution was unsuccessful;
- what outcome you require.
Upon completion, the form should be sent to the Governance Team via the following email address; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the complaint is regarding the Head of School/Service another appropriate person will be identified. After weighing up all evidence they will come to a reasoned decision which will be communicated to you in writing within 6 weeks.
Levels 3 and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator
The vast majority of complaints are resolved at Levels 1 and 2. If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome at Level 2 you are permitted to request that a Faculty Dean /Registrar reconsiders the matter. In order to do this you must complete a Level 3 Complaint Form setting out why you believe that:
- the decision made at Level 2 was not fair or reasonable;
- that the procedure for the Level 2 complaint was procedurally incorrect and how this made a significant difference to the outcome of your complaint.
A Level 3 complaint should be made within 10 working days of receiving the outcome of Level 2 and should be sent to the Complaints and Conduct Team via the following email address: email@example.com
If after this process has been completed you consider a review by the Faculty Dean/Registrar to be procedurally improper or unfair, you have the right for this to be reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). In order to complain to the OIA you should ask the University for a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter (which will ordinarily be issued automatically after a level 3 complaint). Your complaint to the OIA must be submitted within 12 months of receipt of this letter.
Alternatives to a formal complaint
Where your concerns relate to your course it may be advisable to discuss the situation with your Course Representative. Your Course Rep is a fellow student who has been elected to represent your views about your course. Where they identify a particular issue as having a broad impact on your course mates they can take this forward to a departmental level meeting known as a ‘Learning Community Forum’.
If your complaint is regarding a decision about your course such as your progression (including where your course is terminated) or degree classification it is likely that it is better considered under the University’s Academic Appeals Procedure. See here for further advice.
Being harassment or bulled?
If you feel that you have been harassed or bullied by a fellow student or a member of University staff, at first instance you may wish to consult the University’s policy on Dignity. This is best done in discussion with a specially trained University Dignity Adviser.
Please contact an Education Adviser in the Students’ Union who can offer additional advice and support.