A complaint can be made about any aspect of a student’s experience at University. This includes teaching and learning issues or issues with services and facilities provided by the University.
There is a different procedure for complaints about the Students’ Union which can be found here.
Before making a complaint
It’s good to talk. You may find it helpful to talk to someone about the matter before deciding whether to formally complain. There are a range of people available to discuss any concerns or dissatisfaction about your student experience such as:
If after thinking it through by yourself or talking to someone, you wish to make a complaint you may find the information below helpful.
Writing a complaint
When writing a complaint it may help to use the structure below to ensure your complaint is clear by including the following:
- An introductory summary of your complaint
- A timeline of the key events – what happened, dates and times of when it happened and how it impacted on you. With references to key documents/evidence.
- What you feel the University could have or should have done better. If relevant refer to any regulations or handbooks outlining responsibilities that have not been met.
- Your desired outcome(s)
- An explanation of why you believe your desired outcome is relevant and justified
Information on the process for submitting complaints can be found here and below.
The University has four complaint stages:
Stage 1 – Informal
As a first step, you would be expected where appropriate to try to resolve the matter with their Module Tutor/Personal Tutor or with the immediate manager/supervisor of the service. This can be in person or by writing a brief email outlining your concerns, your desired outcome and why you consider this outcome as being reasonable and justifiable. For general issues relating to your programmes of study your Course Representative can raise issues on your behalf at the Student Staff Consultative Committees.
The deadline for making a complaint is usually within 30 calendar days of the issue arising.
If you are dissatisfied with the response or if you consider that the matter is too serious to be dealt with informally you may wish to use stage 2 of the complaints procedure.
Stage 2 – Formal
For when you are dissatisfied with the stage 1 response or consider the issue too serious to be resolved informally.
You should raise the matter with the relevant Executive Dean of School/Head of Department/Service in writing, within 30 calendar days of the event concerned (or within 14 days of the response to a stage 1 complaint) unless there is a demonstrable good reason for needing a longer period. Written complaints about the Dean, Head of Service/Department should be submitted directly to the Director of Student and Academic Services.
You should write a brief email outlining your concerns (including if relevant any dissatisfaction with any stage 1 decision), your desired outcome and why you consider this outcome as being reasonable and justifiable.
You should normally receive an acknowledgment within five working days. The matter would usually be investigated fully. This usually includes a meeting with you to discuss the matter. You will normally receive a written response within fifteen working days of this meeting.
Stage 3 – University Process
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or any proposed further investigation into the matter you can request in writing to refer the matter in to the Director of Student and Academic Services within 10 working days of the date of the outcome letter. The Director of Student and Academic Services will investigate the complaint and invite you to a meeting.
If you are dissatisfied with this outcome the Director of Student Services will convene a meeting of the Complaints Committee. Prior to the meeting you will be informed of your right to be represented and or accompanied at the hearing. The Committee will consider your complaint and report its decisions to the University Council.
Stage 4 – Complaint Outcome Review
If you remain dissatisfied you can request a Complaint Outcome Review in writing within 14 days of receiving the formal outcome. However, you must demonstrate you meet one or more of the grounds for requesting a review:
- A request for a review of the procedures followed at the formal stage
- A consideration of whether the outcome was reasonable
- New material evidence which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process.
The Director of Student and Academic Services will allocate the complaint to be reviewed by a senior member of staff not previously involved in the case. Questions that may be considered in such a review include:
- Were the relevant procedures followed during the formal stage?
- Was the outcome reasonable in all the circumstances?
- Has the student received clear reasons why the complaint was rejected at the formal stage?
- If new material evidence has been provided, has the student given valid reasons for not supplying this earlier?
Once the decision has been made you will be sent the outcome by email with a Completion of Procedures letter attached which will confirm this is the University’s final decision.
Complaints to the OIA
If you remain dissatisfied and wish to pursue the matter further you could submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) requesting an independent review of your case. The OIA review unresolved complaints from students about their higher education provider. Where they find that the provider has done something wrong, they can make recommendations for them to put things right. More information about making a complaint to the OIA can be found here: www.oiahe.org.uk.
How we can help
- We will listen to your concerns
- We can explain the complaints process
- We can help identify any potential pre-complaint resolutions
- We can provide feedback on your complaint before you submit it
- We can accompany you to any complaint meetings