Complaints

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Complaints

 

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. This page covers disatisfaction and complaints about Aston University.

Information on making a complaint about the conduct of another student can be found on our Disciplinary Offences page.

 

Information on making complaints about the Students’ Union can be found below:

 

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 in the University's Student Complaints Purpose and Principles Statement as well as the Student Complaints Procedure below:

 

Complaints Procedure

The University has three complaint stages: the informal complaint stage, the formal complaint stage and the complaint review stage.

Informal Stage

As a first step, you would be expected where appropriate to try to resolve any concerns or complaints with your Module Tutor/Personal Tutor or with the immediate manager/supervisor of the service. This can be in person, via a meeting 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.

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 1 of the complaints procedure.

 

Stage 1 – Formal

For when you are dissatisfied with the response to an informal complaint or consider the issue too serious to be considered informally.

The Formal Complaint should be made in writing using the University’s Formal Complaint Form, available on the Aston University website. You would be expected to outline your concerns (including if relevant any dissatisfaction with any informal decision that was made), your desired outcome and why you consider this outcome as being reasonable and justifiable.

Once completed, please send the Formal Complaint Form, along with any supporting evidence, to the Complaints Team by email to registry_feedbackto@aston.ac.uk

Unless there is a demonstrable, good reason for needing a longer period, the Formal Complaint Form should be submitted:

  • within 20 working days of the outcome of the Informal Stage (where applicable).
  • within 20 working days of the problem giving rise to the complaint.

The Complaints Team will acknowledge the complaint in writing within two working days.

Within 10 working days from the date the Formal Complaint Form was submitted, the Complaints Team will write to the student, explaining how the matter will be processed.

The matter will be assigned to an investigator from a different area than the complaint refers to and will be investigated fully.

This may include requesting a meeting with you to discuss the matter and try to find a resolution. You will usually receive a written response within 20 working days from the date the Formal Complaint Form was submitted.

 

Stage 2 – Complaint Review

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 1, you may request a Complaint Review if you meet one or more of the following Allowed Grounds:

  • That a procedural irregularity occurred during Stage 1 which had a material impact on the outcome.
  • That new material evidence which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process casts substantial doubt on the appropriateness of the outcome of Stage 1.
  • That the outcome of Stage 1 could be considered unreasonable taking account of all the circumstances

The request for a Complaint Review should be made in writing using the University’s Complaint Outcome Review Form where it must be clearly demonstrated how you meet one of more of the above Allowed Grounds. The form must be submitted within 10 working days of the Stage 1 outcome unless there is a demonstrable, good reason for needing a longer period.  

The review will be conducted by a senior manager not previously involved in the matter and from an area not related to the complaint.

The Reviewer will review the procedures followed at Stage 1 and the reasonableness of the outcome. The Complaint Review will not involve a re-opening of the investigation conducted at Stage 2, but a consideration of whether:

  • The relevant procedures were properly followed during Stage 1 and whether any errors or failings made a material difference to the outcome.
  • The outcome could be considered unreasonable taking account of all the circumstances.
  • Any new evidence provided by the student could have been supplied earlier in the process, and if it had been, whether it would have made a difference to the decision.
  • The student received clear reasons why their complaint was not upheld.

 

Non-complex cases

If the Reviewer determines the Complaint Review not to be complex, the Reviewer will conduct the Complaint Review on the papers. Depending on the nature of the complaint and at their sole discretion, the Reviewer may request to meet you to discuss the Complaint Review. 

The outcome of the Complaint Review will be communicated in a Completion of Procedures letter within 20 working days of the University’s acknowledgement of receipt of the Complaint Outcome Review Form.

Complex cases

If the Reviewer determines that the Complaint Review is complex, in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Engagement, they will establish a Complaint Review Panel comprising the Reviewer, the President of Aston Students’ Union (or their nominee) and another senior member of University staff not previously involved in the matter and/or from an area the complaint relates to. The Complaint Review Panel will conduct the Complaint Review and may decide that a Complaint Review Hearing should take place

If a Complaint Review Hearing takes place, the student will be invited and may be accompanied by an adviser or friend. The Complaint Review Hearing will take place in person or via video conference.

The outcome of the Complaints Review Hearing will be communicated in a Completion of Procedures letter within 15 working days of the hearing taking place.

The Completion of Procedures letter confirms 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 below:

 

How can we help

  1. We will listen to your concerns
  2. We can explain the complaints process
  3. We can help identify any potential pre-complaint resolutions
  4. We can provide feedback on your complaint before you submit it
  5. We can accompany you to any complaint meetings