Student Complaints Procedure
2. The Local Stage
3. The Formal Stage - Mediation
4. The Formal Stage - Complaint Review Panel
5. The Formal Stage - Hearing
8. Support from the Students' Union
9. Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)
10. Suggested route for complaints
1.1 If a student has a complaint about any aspect of University life, it should be raised with an appropriate person at the earliest opportunity. The table at the end of this procedure gives guidance as to who may be approached.
1.2 If the student is unable to resolve the complaint informally, or is dissatisfied with the outcome, this complaints procedure shall be followed.
1.3 The complaints procedure involves two stages:
(i) The Local Stage
(ii) The Formal Stage
1.4 Students may raise complaints jointly.
1.5 Complaints must be brought promptly. The University will not entertain complaints that are made substantially after the matters complained about, unless there is good reason for the delay.
2.1 If with good reason the student considers it more appropriate in the first instance or if the matter remains unresolved following an informal approach, he or she may bring the complaint to an appropriate staff member (listed in the table at the end of this procedure) in writing.
2.2 If the matter remains unresolved, the student may seek to invoke the Formal Stage by completing a Complaint Form and submitting it to the Student Complaints Officer (0117 928 8904, internal extension 88904, email firstname.lastname@example.org). The Student Complaints Officer will act impartially and will be happy to give advice to students about any matter of concern to them.2.3 On receipt of the Complaint Form the Student Complaints Officer will consider whether appropriate action has been taken to seek resolution at the Local Stage. In some cases, in cooperation with schools or individuals, the Student Complaints Officer may be able to resolve the student’s complaint without recourse to the Formal Stage.
3.1 If it has not been possible to resolve a complaint under the Local Stage or a student remains dissatisfied with the outcome, the Student Complaints Officer will initiate the Formal Stage of the procedure at the request of the student in writing.
3.2 Provided the student and those complained about are willing, the complaint may be referred to the University’s Mediation Service. The Student Complaints Officer will provide the student and the other party or parties with initial information about mediation and the mediation process. Further information will be provided by the allocated mediator. The University expects the parties to endeavour to resolve issues raised in a complaint through mediation.
3.3 If the dispute is resolved through mediation, the mediator may put any agreement between the parties in writing for their benefit. Agreements reached through mediation are not binding. However, the parties may agree to enter a more formally binding agreement as a full and final settlement of the complaint.3.4 The Student Complaints Officer and mediators will encourage good practice in the University and will present an annual report on student complaints to the Senate and the University Council.
4.1 If the complaint is unresolved, or if mediation did not take place, the student may request a hearing before a Council Committee.
4.2 The student should make the request in writing to the University Secretary either immediately after discussions with the Student Complaints Officer have concluded or within 14 days of any final mediation session where this is applicable. The request in writing must include a completed Complaint Form.
4.3 Upon receipt of the request for a hearing the University Secretary shall refer the request to a Complaint Review Panel.
4.4 The Review Panel shall normally consist of three members of the academic staff who have had no prior involvement with the complaint.
4.5 The Review Panel will consider the request for a hearing and may:
a) refer the matter back to an appropriate person with an instruction or recommendation for resolution. If the instruction or recommendation is not carried out, the student may refer the matter back to the Review Panel for reconsideration;
b) dismiss the complaint, giving reasons, and issue a Completion of Procedures letter;
c) recommend that a Council Committee be appointed to hear the complaint;
d) ask the parties to reconsider any decision not to enter into mediation.
5.1 If the Review Panel recommends that a Committee be appointed to hear the complaint, Council will appoint a Committee, which shall normally consist of three members and which may include among its members Council members, University staff who are not members of Council and persons from outside the University. At the request of the student, Council may appoint a student sabbatical officer as an additional member. In the event of the Committee being divided in its view, the Chair will have a casting vote.
5.2 The University Secretary will appoint a clerk to the Council Committee. The role of the clerk is to assist the Committee as it thinks fit by collating the evidence, preparing the documentation, making arrangements for the hearing, taking a note of the proceedings and advising the Committee on the applicable regulations and procedures.
5.3 To clarify the issues, the clerk may on behalf of the Committee ask for written witness statements or documents such as medical certificates to be produced in advance of a hearing. The student will be entitled to see all statements and documents seen by the Committee.
5.4 The student is entitled to be present at hearings of the Committee, and to be accompanied by an adviser, friend or representative. The Students’ Union employs student advisers who may be asked to act in this capacity. If a complaint is being made against a particular person, he or she is also entitled to attend hearings and to be accompanied by an adviser, friend or representative. In the event that either party is without good reason unable to attend, the hearing will either be held in that party’s absence or rescheduled. If the party concerned has good reason for non-attendance the hearing will be rescheduled.
5.5 The order of any hearing will be at the discretion of the Committee, which may ask for enquiries to be undertaken and witnesses to attend. The Committee may ask questions of anyone present. The student will be given a full opportunity to state his or her case, and will be able to address the Committee at the conclusion of any evidence that has been presented.
If information is to be kept confidential, the student should make this clear to the person to whom a complaint is made. Students should understand that in exceptional circumstances it may be difficult for confidentiality to be respected, for instance where a criminal offence has been disclosed. Students should also understand that in some circumstances the demand for confidentiality may make it difficult for the University to assist them with their complaint.
Unless the context indicates otherwise under these regulations an Officer of the University may act through his or her properly appointed nominee.
The President and Vice-Presidents of the Students’ Union offer support to students who are encountering difficulties, and the Union can raise issues which affect a number of students at one of the regular meetings of the University’s Student Affairs Committee.
If the student is still unsatisfied, he or she may take the case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, which provides an independent scheme for the review of student complaints. The OIA will consider cases only when the University’s own internal complaints procedure has been exhausted. It will not intervene on matters which turn purely on academic assessment.Further information about this scheme is available at http://oiahe.org.uk
Students are recommended to approach first someone from among those listed 1 in the table below, then someone from among those listed 2 and so on. Students should endeavour to deal with their complaint in the first instance at the lowest level possible, and Council should be approached only after all other avenues have been exhausted.
|Person to whom approach may be made||Type of Complaint|
|Head of School||2|
|Faculty Education Director||3|
|Dean of Faculty||4|
|Students' Union Student Adviser||3||3||2|
International Students Advisers
(international students only)
|Warden (of hall of residence)||1|
|Senior Resident (of student house)||1|
|Director of Student Services||
|Other senior administrative officer||4|
Revised version approved by Council 5 July 2002. Last amended July 2010.