The complaints process covers many issues but not academic decisions as these are covered by the appeals process.
Reasonable, genuine, and sincere complaints should be raised as soon as possible. If you are worried about making a complaint you can always contact YUSU or GSA for advice or support. You may also wish to review the University complaints procedure or read the Student complaints FAQ (PDF , 417kb).
If you have concerns about the conduct of a staff member, you should also read the Complaints of misconduct procedure or the Report and Support web pages.
Complaints in relation to Covid-19 should follow the informal procedure in the first instance, which involves speaking to your academic department or supervisor.
We work to resolve complaints quickly and provide guidance for staff to help them do this. Below are the principles that underpin our complaints procedure.
These are that:
We take complaints seriously
This means that no complaint should be dismissed without due consideration of the facts, testimonies and basis for concern.
This does not mean that students are allowed to log frivolous, vexatious, or malicious complaints, or request unreasonable outcomes.
We listen to concerns without bias
This means that staff handling informal complaints take the time to listen to the student, without prejudice, to understand the basis for concern and what can be done to put things right.
This does not mean that students are permitted to act unreasonably or harass staff members during a complaint.
We aim to reach a fair outcome
This means that students can always expect that their complaint will be investigated properly, and where there are failings that these are remedied appropriately.
This does not mean every complaint should be upheld, or that the student’s request will always be agreed.
We support students throughout their complaint
This means that, whenever possible, staff members should look to assist students to achieve an amicable agreement and to remedy the issue even where no error has occurred. It also means that staff should allow the student to seek independent advice where needed.
This does not mean that staff members are responsible for managing the student’s engagement with the complaints process. It also doesn’t mean that a complaint should be left unresolved for an unreasonable period of time due to delays either on the student’s or the University’s side.
We inform students of next steps
This means that students can disagree with the outcome of an informal complaint and request it be escalated to the next stage of the complaints process. Wherever possible, staff should signpost this clearly and provide any necessary assistance to allow the student do this.
This does not mean that a student can request specific people review their complaint, or that they can ask for repeated reviews at the informal stage.
In the vast majority of circumstances the person best placed to help you is based within the department or service where the issue occurred. If you’ve spoken to them and aren’t happy with their response, you may wish to raise a complaint. There are some services which have slightly different rules, if these apply we will let you know and forward on the complaint accordingly.
If you are dissatisfied with the initial response to your concerns you should speak to the relevant head of department or service. You can also email the relevant person, or if you don’t know who this is, complete our informal complaint form and we will help you.
Once you have done this they will log an “informal” complaint. This is also known as the early resolution stage, or simply stage 1.
If you have already received an outcome at the informal stage you can escalate it to the formal stage.
If you have had a response to your informal complaint and you are dissatisfied with the outcome you may submit a formal complaint using the Student formal complaint form (MS Word , 29kb) or Staff misconduct formal complaint form (MS Word , 16kb). You may also submit a formal complaint where there is good reason not to use the informal stage, for example the subject matter is too serious, or involves the head of department or service.
The University Complaints Officer will assume responsibility for investigating and facilitating a resolution. They will gather information and speak to the relevant area to find out what has happened. They may need to request evidence from one or more parties and meet with you to discuss your concerns. Each complaint is individual and the Complaints Officer will want to gather a complete account of your concerns.
The Complaints Officer will try to resolve the issue through discussion, where possible. You will then receive a letter explaining the decision made and the actions taken. If you are not happy at this stage you can request a review of this outcome by speaking to, or emailing, the Complaints Officer.
Email Complaints Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have received an outcome letter at the formal complaint stage you can request that this outcome is reviewed by another senior member of staff. You must do this as soon as possible after you receive the outcome letter, and in all cases within two weeks of the date of that letter.
The review stage will follow similar rules to the formal stage and will focus on ensuring a thorough and fair investigation has taken place and reasonable outcome provided. If there is any relevant information you believe has not been taken into account already you should provide it at this stage.
At the end of this stage, if you still disagree with the outcome, the reviewer will issue a Completion of Procedures (CoP) letter. This is evidence that you have now exhausted the University’s complaints procedure. At this point you may choose to refer your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIAHE).
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator is an independent body, separate from the University which reviews complaints. It takes into account the University’s procedures and policies, along with best practice across the sector, it then makes a decision as to whether the University has done anything wrong. It will also make recommendations to encourage improvements in the quality of service provided by Higher Education Institutes. You can find out more about the OIAHE on their website.
The OIAHE can review all complaints and appeals concerning the University where a CoP letter has been issued. You will have 12 months from the date of this letter to escalate the complaint to the OIAHE.
The Officer of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education