The University’s Student Complaints Resolution Framework
In response to the rising number of complaints, the University has set up a new Student Complaints Resolution Pathway that has 3 distinct stages.
A Central Student Complaints Resolution Team has also been set up at the University to manage the stages of each complaint.
More information is provided at: Student Feedback & Complaints.
What is and isn’t included
The new framework includes Academic complaints, Non-Academic Service complaints and complaints previously made through the Dignity at Work and Study procedure.
It does not include Academic Appeals, whistleblowing, research misconduct, and Freedom of Information or Subject Access requests. It also does not include complaints about the Students’ Union, since that has its own complaints procedure.
Academic complaints can be made about anything that has gone wrong or is unsatisfactory with the teaching and learning process.
Non-academic service complaints can be made about the quality or failure of any of the University’s services, including campus and University-managed off-campus accommodation, and other commercial or support services.
Dignity at Work and Study complaints can include complaints about inappropriate behaviour, harassment/bullying, and discrimination.
Where to start and who to contact
All complaints should start off at Stage 1. This means raising a complaint with the academic department where the problem arose or with the appropriate service outlet. The aim is that complaints should be solved quickly at a frontline level.
Students should be clear at this point what their complaint is about, and what they would like done about it. If it is an academic complaint, students can first raise it with their personal tutor, course tutor, Departmental Senior Tutor, Director of Undergraduate or Postgraduate Studies, or another appropriate person.
If unsuccessful, what comes next?
If the student is not satisfied with the decision at Stage 1, they can take it to Stage 2 - the formal departmental resolution stage. They need to complete a Stage 2 form and have some kind of written response from the first stage.
The Stage 2 form (together with all supporting documents) should be sent to the Central Student Complaints Resolution Team, who will investigate by conferring with the Head of Department or Manager of Service in the specific areas named in the complaint.
Students will then be referred for help at this stage to Student Support Services, the University Senior Tutor, the SU Advice Centre or their personal tutor or supervisor.
The outcome of Stage 2 will be communicated to the student with an explanation as to the resolution.
If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2, they can escalate it to Stage 3 by completing a Stage 3 form. The complaint will be investigated by a senior member of staff at the University and may, in some cases, lead to a hearing that the student can attend.
If the complaint is not upheld at Stage 3, the student has exhausted the University’s procedures and can take their complaint outside to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.
There are specific timescales for dealing with complaints and escalating them to the next level. Complaints should be made at the first level as soon as possible and, at most, within 3 months of the original event which led to the complaint.
Stage 1 should typically be completed within 20 working days.
If the complaint goes to Stage 2, it should be acknowledged within 2 working days and should take no more than 30 working days to be completed.
If it goes to Stage 3, the complaint form will be acknowledged within 2 working days and the outcome should be provided within 30 working days.
Please note that with difficult or complex complaints, these timescales may be extended.
At any point during the procedure, mediation can be sought. This is confidential, done by a trained mediator and can lead to a written agreement that is binding on both parties. The complaints procedure is stopped while mediation takes place, but can be resumed at the relevant point if mediation is unsuccessful.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)
Once all complaints procedures have been completed, the University will issue the student with a Completion of Procedures letter. If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome, they are free to take a complaint to the OIA within 3 months of the date of the COP letter.
More information about taking a complaint to the OIA can be found at oiahe.org.uk.