Student complaints and grievance procedures

1.0     Purpose 
The purpose of this procedure is to: 

  • outline the process to be followed by staff, trainers and students when dealing with student related grievances 

  • provide professional handling of investigations in a way that is helpful for all concerned 


2.0     Scope 
2.1     This procedure seeks to ensure that complaints against the Academy and associated centres/faculties made by students are treated seriously and, if found to be valid, are acted upon to ensure that the students’ interests are protected as far as it is possible for the Academy, associated centres and faculties to do so. 
2.2     It should be noted that this complaints procedure is not designed to deal with matters covered by other policies and procedures including complaints and appeals against:  

  • outcomes or grades of assessment and examination,  

  • procedures dealing with academic misconduct (cheating, plagiarism and so on),  

  • approval for deferral of exams and coursework submission,  

  • decisions related to student academic progression, and  

  • matters dealing with student code of conduct and disciplinary action 

 

This list is not exhaustive and students should consult the Handbook for information regarding other grievance resolution processes. 
2.3     This complaints procedure and any decisions made under them are not intended to give rise to legal rights, or obligations on the Academy to pay compensation either in respect of a decision made pursuant to the procedures or for a breach of these procedures. These procedures are intended to facilitate the resolution of grievances by the Academy.  
2.4     Anonymous complaints will not normally be considered. 
2.5     In all steps throughout this procedure, it is the responsibility of students and staff to maintain confidentiality, privacy and integrity of those involved in the procedures. Failure to do so on the part of member(s) of staff or students may lead to additional disciplinary actions.

  
3.0     Principles which underpin the general student complaints procedures 
3.1     The guiding principles of these procedures are that complaints shall be: 
 

  • treated seriously and with fairness;

  • dealt with quickly, simply and at the appropriate level, as far as is possible; 

  • treated consistently across the Academy, Centres and faculties; 

  • subject to the principles of natural justice;  

  • progressed through two stages – an informal stage and, if necessary, a formal 

   stage;  

  • dealt with and resolved wherever possible, at the informal stage.  


4.0     Procedures 


Informal Stage                    Formal Stage                Appeals                        
*Lead lecturer                              ~Training Director                 ^Training Director                    

*Programme/module Director      ~Course Director                  ^Students Complaints Panel    
*Administration manager   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                     

4.1     Informal Stage  
4.1.1    In the first instance students who wish to make a complaint should first approach the staff member(s) directly involved to discuss the matter. This could include: 

  • Lead lecturer 

  • Programme or module director

  • Administration Manager

At this point the concerned staff member(s) may advise or refer the student to alternative channels of grievance resolution as outlined in section 2.2, as appropriate. 

4.1.2    Assuming it is agreed that the complaint shall be progressed through these general procedures, the member of staff consulted shall discuss the complaint fully with the student and – with the student’s consent – anyone else involved, to see if it can be resolved informally. This may involve referral of the complaint to a third party.  
4.1.3    The outcome of complaints dealt with informally should be briefly documented.  Normally, complaints handled through Informal Stage 1 shall be dealt with within, at most, ten (10) working days, briefly documented, and a copy of the outcome sent to the student. 
4.2     Formal Stage 
4.2.1    If the student is dissatisfied with the result of Informal Stage, the complaint shall be sent in writing to the Course Director responsible for the programme on which the student is enrolled or to the Training Director within ten (10) working days of the completion of the Informal Stage.  
4.2.2    This person shall: 

  • acknowledge receipt of the written complaint within seven (7) working days; 

  • advise, in writing and within seven (7) working days, any member(s) of staff or students involved that a formal complaint has been received; and   

  • shall consider the evidence, written or otherwise, and, if necessary, hold such discussions with the complainant and any other persons they deem appropriate in order to fully investigate the complaint. 

4.2.3    The member of staff, having fully investigated the complaint over a period not normally exceeding ten (10) working days from its receipt, shall decide whether: 

  • the complaint should be progressed through other procedures (e.g. disciplinary procedures or other procedures indicated in section 2.2) in which case the  complaint shall be terminated at this stage; or whether  

  • there is reasonable justification for the complaint; or whether

  • there is no reasonable justification for the complaint

4.2.4    The Training Director or the Course Director, as appropriate, shall: 

  • make their decision known in writing to the student and to members of staff or other students involved;  

  • seek to resolve any justifiable complaint through recommendations which all parties involved in the complaint shall be invited to accept; and shall,  

  • if the recommendations are agreed, take steps to ensure that they are implemented in full within the agreed time period. 

4.2.5    In case the complaint is against the Training Director or the Course Director the procedure will move directly to the Appeals stage. 
4.3     Appeals 
4.3.1    If the student is not satisfied with the decision at the conclusion of the Formal stage or if the recommendations made at this stage are not implemented, they may appeal to a Director. The student shall submit the appeal in writing within ten (10) working days of receiving the outcome of the Formal Stage. 
4.3.2    The Director having received the appeal shall: 

  • acknowledge its receipt within three (3) working days; 

  • inform the Director of the Academy or Centre that an appeal has been received;  

  • decide to enforce the implementation of the recommendations made at the end of the Formal stage;  

  • dismiss the case, giving reasons in writing;  

  • seek agreement to an alternative set of recommendations;  

  • determine whether there are sufficient grounds to convene a Student Complaint Panel and, if so, shall  

  • establish a Student Complaint Panel to hear the appeal. 

In all such cases the decision shall be final. 
4.3.3    Student Complaints Panel 
4.3.3.1 The Student Complaints Panel shall involve four persons. These shall be: 

  • the Director (Chair); 

  • the Training Director;  

  • a student representative appointed by the Students Forum; and  

  • an Associate Director who has had no involvement in the case 

4.3.3.2 A Student Complaints Panel shall hear the complaint within ten (10) working days of receipt  
4.3.3.3 The Chair of the Panel shall submit, within five (5) working days of the last Panel  meeting a written report. If necessary the Chair shall have a casting vote. The decision of the Panel shall be final. 
4.3.3.4 The Chair of the Panel shall seek to ensure that any actions arising from the decision of the Panel are taken within the timescale identified in the report. 


5.0     Notes 
5.1     In these procedures: 

  • reference to a student is taken to mean an individual student or groups of students; it includes members of staff registered on extended academic programmes in their capacity as students;  

  • in the absence (e.g. vacation or illness) of the person holding a named post in the procedures the person deputising for them during the time of their absence shall substitute. In cases when the complaint involves the nominated deputy, a member of the Academy and Centres Executive shall be consulted and shall determine who shall be responsible for handling the complaint. 

  • Students, trainers and staff members involved directly in the complaint may be accompanied by a person of their choosing for discussions and hearings. If the student or staff member involved intends to be accompanied, the name and address of the accompanying person shall be notified three (3) working days in advance of the discussions and/or hearings. Legal representation is not allowed at any stage other than in exceptional circumstances with the discretion of the Director. 

  • If a student, trainer or member of staff wishes to introduce documents to the appropriate person(s) at the formal stage or the appeals stage, they shall supply copies of all such documents at least three (3) working days before the date of the discussions/hearings. In case a Student Complaints Panel is convened, the Chair of the Panel may decide to give time to examine the documents by adjourning or delaying the meeting of the Panel for a period of up to five (5) working days. 

6.0     Interpretation 
6.1     the Administrator of Student Office is responsible for interpreting these procedures and  his/her decision shall be final except in cases where the interpretation involves a complaint against the Student Office in which case interpretation of the procedures shall be the responsibility of a member of the Academy and Centres’ Executive. 
 6.2    ‘working day’ refers to a day on which the University is normally open; it does not include Fridays and Saturday, Bank Holidays, or other designated periods of closure  outlined in the Academic Calendar or otherwise publicised by the Academy and Centres. 

7.0     Record keeping and review of procedures 
7.1     Records of complaints resolved at the informal stage as outlined in section 4.1 must be maintained securely the concerned trainer and/or member(s) of staff for a period of one (1) year from the date of resolution of the complaint.  
7.2     All records relating to resolution of complaints through the formal stage as outlined in section 4.2, should be maintained securely by the Campus Programme Coordinator or Campus Resources Manager, as appropriate, for a period of three (3) years from the date of resolution of the complaint.    
7.3     All records pertaining to the Appeals stage as outlined in section 4.3 should be maintained securely in the Director’s Office for a period of three (3) years from the date of resolution of the complaint.  
7.4     This Student Complaints and Grievance Procedure will be review at least three (3) years from the date of adoption.  

 

Procedures last updated: 15/01/15