1.1 The University of Bath is committed to fair, consistent and transparent admissions processes. Staff aim to work efficiently and courteously, operating under the principles and procedures set out in the University’s Admissions Policy and our commitment to equality and diversity in education, employment and service provision.
1.2 This procedure exists for those circumstances in which an applicant is dissatisfied with the conduct of our selection process or with its outcome. It sets out the basis on which the University will consider complaints about its admissions procedures and clarifies what applicants may do if they wish to request a review of a decision.
1.3 A separate complaints and appeals process exists for students who are studying / who have studied at the University of Bath, relating to matters such as:
- a University service - academic or non-academic
- information about academic programmes
- teaching or supervision
- the behaviour of a member of staff
- the behaviour of another student
- academic appeals.
1.4 In addition, a separate complaints process exists in relation to accommodation provision at the University of Bath.
2.1 The University ensures that staff involved with admissions, selection, interviews, decision making and similar activities are professional and receive appropriate training and development in admissions and related areas.
2.2 University staff participate in national student admission agendas through membership of various professional bodies, working parties and conferences. This facilitates the dissemination of good admissions practice across the University. Ongoing staff development is offered to staff involved in admissions in order to ensure compliance with regulations and consistency of procedures. For example these training sessions include workshops about recruitment strategy, qualifications, interviews and entry requirements as well as technical training for staff involved in recording offers. In addition, the University holds annual workshops for staff involved in Clearing and other specific events that occur during the applications cycle. External training is given via relevant external bodies (such as UCAS) and sharing best practice with other Higher Education Institutions.
Definitions and Scope
3.1 A complaint is a specific concern related to a procedural error, irregularity or maladministration in the admissions procedures or polices.
For example, a complaint may concern the processes or information provided regarding admissions decisions, fee waivers, bursaries or scholarship schemes, or the behaviour of a staff member involved in one of these. Complaints about external bodies (such as UCAS, Research Councils or other funding bodies) cannot be accepted and must be submitted to the relevant organisation.
3.2 An appeal is a request for a formal review of an admissions decision, or the wording/terms/conditions of an offer, or a pre-entry fee status decision, and asks the University to check that it was made fairly on the basis of all the evidence originally submitted.
3.3 The procedure applies to all modes and levels of study (full-time, part-time and distance learning) for all credit-bearing awards and to admissions processes for visiting and exchange students.
3.4 Complaints must be made by the applicant to the University. If a complaint is received from a parent, teacher, other adviser or relevant person, we must have written permission from the applicant to discuss their application with this third party. Any applicant may use the procedure, whether they have applied via UCAS or direct to the University.
3.5 Anonymous complaints will not normally be dealt with under this procedure as all investigations should be evidence-based. If a member of staff receives an anonymous complaint, they will be expected to seek advice from their line manager as to how the complaint should be dealt with.
3.6 Applicants and any individual against whom complaints are made may expect complaints to be dealt with confidentially and that their privacy will be respected. However, it may be necessary to disclose information to others in order to deal with the complaint and in these circumstances the parties concerned will be informed of such disclosure.
3.7 Applicants may not always agree with the decision the University reaches on their fees status (home or overseas for fees purposes). This procedure also covers disputes about this issue. Those wishing to request a review of their fees status must do so as soon as possible and supply any further documentation to support their review. Those seeking further information on this process should contact the following Head of Admissions relevant to their level of study:
- Undergraduate Taught: David Howells, Head of UG Admissions
- Postgraduate Taught: Claire Bannister, Head of PGT Admissions
- Doctoral studies: Annali Bamber-Jones, Head of Doctoral Admissions and Recruitment
- All other students: Claire Bannister, Head of PGT Admissions
3.8 There is no right of appeal against the University’s decision in relation to your eligibility for financial support based on your widening participation or your academic profile. However, you may make a complaint if you believe that you have not been considered for an award because of a procedural error, or you believe that there has been some other procedural problem with our allocating and awarding system.
3.8 Applicants are encouraged to seek advice via the informal process in the first instance.
4.1 The University will ensure that all complaints and appeals are investigated thoroughly, promptly and with due regard to the confidentiality of all parties.
4.2 Formal complaints or appeals should be submitted as soon as an applicant believes there is a concern. This should normally be within 28 days of any specific alleged incident or action.
4.3 No applicant will be disadvantaged in any way because they have exercised their rights under this procedure.
4.5 If a complaint is upheld, the University will take appropriate action or provide an appropriate remedy. If a complaint is not upheld, the reasons for this will be communicated to the applicant in a timely and accessible manner.
4.6 The University will not usually consider new information about an applicant’s qualifications or circumstances if this should have been made available as part of the original application. New information may be accepted in cases such as where a third party has made an error affecting the University’s judgement of the applicant’s suitability, where there has been a misinterpretation of the information/data contained within the original application or where medical or other mitigating circumstances can be shown to have affected the quality of the original application.
The University reserves the right to decide whether new evidence can be considered on these grounds.
4.7 If an appeal is successful, the University will look again at its original admissions, fee status or financial support decision. These decisions may change as a result but this is not guaranteed. In the case of an admissions decision, applicants may be required to submit additional application materials as part of an appeal. This may include producing written work such as an essay. In these cases, appropriate timescales will be agreed with the applicant. If a selection decision is changed as a result of an appeal, all reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that the relevant application can proceed for the academic year in question. If this is not possible, deferred entry, or an application for this, may be facilitated. If an appeal does not change a selection decision, the reasons for this will be communicated to the applicant in a timely and accessible manner.
4.8 The University will not enter into discussions or disputes on matters it regards as those of academic judgement. Admissions staff will make every effort to explain how selection criteria work, and why they are appropriate for a particular course, but the University will not review an admissions decision simply because an applicant disagrees with or wishes to challenge the criteria set. Further information relating to our selection process can be found in our Admissions policy.
The University operates a three-stage process for complaints and appeals:
Stage One – Informal
5.1 Applicants may express concerns about any aspect of the admissions, fee waiver, bursary or scholarship scheme process on an informal basis either to a member of staff in an academic department, Faculty or School (such as an Admissions Tutor or interviewer), or to a member of an Admissions Team. Staff will make every reasonable effort to explain procedures, allay concerns or otherwise respond to the issue raised. These discussions may be by telephone, email or other contact and, as appropriate to an informal process, a written record will not necessarily be kept.
In the first instance:
- Undergraduate applicants should ideally contact the UG Admissions Team
- Postgraduate Taught applicants should ideally contact the Central PGT Admissions Team
- Doctoral applicants should ideally contact the Doctoral College Admissions Team
- Exchange students should contact the International Mobility Team
5.2 Applicants concerned about the reason for an unsuccessful application or financial support decision should, before appealing a decision, obtain feedback from the appropriate department/Faculty/School or from the relevant Admissions Office about the reasons for the decision. Feedback is provided as set out in the University’s Admissions Policy. An appeal may be submitted subsequently if the applicant believes the decision contained any element of unfairness or error.
Stage Two – Formal
5.3 Complaints and appeals must be made in writing relevant Director for Admissions:
- Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught: Catherine Baldwin, Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions
- Doctoral studies: Cathryn Mitchell, Academic Director of the Doctoral College
- All other students: Catherine Baldwin, Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions
Complaints and appeals will be accepted as either a dated hardcopy letter or an email. To ensure receipt, the University would advise submission in both formats.
They must provide:
- applicant name, address and Bath/UCAS ID
- course title
- specific details of the complaint/appeal with any supporting evidence, documents or correspondence
- a statement of the action/remedy sought if the complaint/appeal is successful
5.4 Directors have expertise in all admissions matters but are not normally involved in individual decision-making. They will therefore review all cases independently. They will determine the nature of the investigation required in each case and are responsible for securing departmental/Faculty/School cooperation with agreement on outcomes. Given that most applicants are not present on campus, face to-face meetings will not normally be expected as part of any investigation.
5.5 The Director will acknowledge all formal complaints/appeals within 5 working days of receipt and is responsible for communicating a timescale for any investigation to the applicant.
5.6 A full written statement of the outcome of any investigation will be provided to the applicant. This will normally be within 4 weeks of a final decision.
Stage Three – Review by the Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance
5.7 If an applicant is not satisfied with the decision taken in respect of a complaint/appeal under Stage 2 above, he or she may request that the case is looked at by the Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance. Such a request should state the grounds for appeal, which should meet one of the following criteria:
- that there were procedural irregularities in the investigation of the complaint by the relevant Director
- that the finding of the investigation was inappropriate in light of the evidence
5.8 Requests must be made by dated letter or email to the Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance within 14 days of receipt of the outcome of a Stage 2 complaint or appeal.
5.9 The Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance is responsible for establishing whether the Stage 2 investigation was conducted fairly and that all decisions relating to it were reasonable and justified in the light of the evidence. New evidence will not normally be permitted at this stage. The decision by the Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance on whether any new information may be submitted is final. They may call upon the assistance and expertise of other University staff members to inform their judgement but are not required to do so. Their decision on a complaint/appeal is final and there is no further right of or process for appeal within the University.
Retention of records
6.1 All records are held in line with the University’s retention of records policy.
Recording of complaints and appeals will be held by the relevant Director of Admissions. They will carry out statistical reporting of these to the Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance and Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost on an annual basis.
Further information on these procedures may be sent to Catherine Baldwin, Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions.
The relevant Directors of Admissions are:
Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions
University of Bath
Prof Cathryn Mitchell
Academic Director of Doctoral College
University of Bath
In the rare circumstance where the relevant Director of Admissions has been involved in the informal stage of a complaint or appeal then a stage 2 complaint or appeal may be submitted to:
Mr Keith Zimmerman
Chief Operating Officer
The University of Bath
The Chief Operating Officer will then determine an appropriate authority to investigate the complaint or appeal.
Stage 3 Complaints/Appeals should be made to:
Dr Nicky Kemp
Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
University of Bath
Owner: Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach
Version number: 1.1
Approval date: 19 October 2020
Approved by: University Executive Board
Date of last review: October 2020