Complaints Policy and Procedure
The University of Bath will not penalise any student for raising a complaint they are genuinely concerned about, even if the concerns turn out to be misplaced.
Stage 1 - Informal Complaint
It is expected that most complaints can be resolved at an early stage by discussing the matter informally at a local level. A student should therefore bring the matter to the attention of an appropriate member of staff, who will aim to resolve the matter by informal discussion.
For a confidential, informal discussion about options available prior to submitting a complaint, or support with handling an informal complaint, please contact: email@example.com. Or to discuss with an independent SU Advisor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipients of informal student complaints are responsible for addressing them promptly and fairly. The recipient will normally let the student know (or arrange for a colleague to do so) within five working days of receiving the initial complaint what steps (if any) will be taken to address the complaint and the expected timescale and advise to whom they should submit a formal complaint if they are dissatisfied with this outcome.
It should be noted that this stage will normally be an informal process via conversation or email, but where proportionate to do so any agreed action should be confirmed.
Any staff involved will be encouraged to share the experience where the effectiveness of their Department or Service could benefit. It is expected that the majority of complaints will be resolved in this way.
Stage 2 - Formal Complaint
If a student has attempted to resolve matters informally but is not satisfied with the outcome, they may elect to proceed to the next stage by submitting a formal complaint within 10 working days of receiving the outcome of their informal complaint. A student may also submit a formal complaint if the issue involved is too complex or serious for informal resolution. The student should submit their complaint by means of a Student Complaint Form to email@example.com. The SU Advisors can assist with completing a complaint form, preparing for meetings and can attend the meetings as an advisor. Students can arrange a meeting with an advisor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The student should keep a copy of their complaint and any other documentation submitted for their own records.
The student should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of their complaint, from the Student Casework Manager, within five working days.
The complaint will be investigated by the Head of Department or Service of which the complaint is about. If the Head of Department is involved in the matters complained about or it is deemed appropriate to do so, the Deputy Director (Student Policy and Safeguarding) will nominate another person to carry out the investigation – this will normally be a different Head of Department or Service. If the complaint directly affects the Deputy Director (Student Policy and Safeguarding) or the Head of Governance, the investigation will be undertaken by a Pro-Vice Chancellor. The Head of Department or Service is free to consult The Director of Academic Registry or the Director of Student Support and Safeguarding if they consider it necessary.
The Head of Department or Service investigating the complaint will normally arrange to meet with the student to discuss their complaint in detail. At this meeting the student will have the right to be accompanied by a friend or advisor. Student Reporting Parties and other parties (Witnesses and Respondents) will attend the meeting separately, unless it is agreed between those involved that it would be more beneficial to have a joint meeting; the final decision will be made by the person investigating the complaint having consulted with those involved. Where a member of staff is the respondent in the complaint, they can be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union representative.
If a student, or other parties to the complaint are unable to attend the arranged meeting, the Department will contact them to reschedule. If a student, or other parties to the complaint fail to attend both meetings, the investigation may be limited and may be concluded in their absence. The meeting can take place in person or via videocall. The meeting will follow this format:
- The student will be asked to explain their complaint and present any supporting evidence, with the assistance of their representative as necessary, following which they may be asked questions by the Head of Department or Service. If the respondent to the complaint is present and would like to ask the student questions about their complaint, they may do so via the Head of Department or Service;
- If present, other parties to the complaint will then respond to the complaint, with the assistance of their companion(s) as necessary, following which they may also be asked questions by the Head of Department or Service. If the student would like to ask the respondent questions, they may do so via the Head of Department or Service.
- If not present, the Head of Department or Service will make any necessary enquiries.
The Head of Department or Service will produce a report which outlines the process followed, the information gathered, the conclusions drawn and any recommendations. This report will be sent to the Student Casework Manager for quality assurance prior to sending the report onto the student and respondent, along with copies of any information considered.
If the complaint is upheld, the student will be informed of the action taken to resolve or redress the complaint. If the complaint is not upheld, then the student will receive an explanation of the reason for this decision. For quality assurance, the decisions will be overseen by the Deputy Director (Student Policy and Safeguarding).
The student should receive this written response within 60 calendar days following both a submission of a Student Complaints Form and confirmation by the complainant that they wish a formal investigation to begin. If this is not possible, the student will be informed in writing of the progress being made towards the consideration of their complaint and given a timescale for completion.
Stage 3 - Review by the Student Appeals Panel
A student can use the Student Appeals Policy and Procedure to submit an appeal (within the bounds of that policy) following notification of the outcome of a Stage 2 Student Complaint. An appeal needs to be submitted within 10 working days of the outcome of a Stage 2 complaint. Such a request should be submitted to email@example.com. The SU Advice and Support Centre provide independent guidance on how to appeal, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students are encouraged to provide evidence to support their complaint. This may include (but is not limited to) witness statements, independent medical evidence, reports by professionals or financial information. If concerns are raised about the authenticity of the supporting evidence provided, the University reserves the right to take steps to verify the evidence. If the evidence is found not to be genuine, the matter may be considered under the Student Disciplinary Procedure.
Students are strongly encouraged to provide evidence at the earliest stages of the complaint to allow for a thorough investigation and avoid delays. Evidence which is presented at a later stage of the process but was available at the outset (and should have been provided then), may be questioned and may hinder the progress of the investigation.
Evidence only available as the investigation progresses and/or later in the process will be considered appropriately.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)
If the University’s internal procedure has not resulted in the resolution of a complaint to the student’s satisfaction, they have the option to pursue it with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). Where a case is considered eligible, the OIA will provide independent adjudication on the resolution of complaints, once the institution’s internal procedures have been exhausted.
For independent advice on how to submit a complaint to the OIA, students can contact The SU Advice and Support Centre by emailing email@example.com. The OIA website can be found at: http://www.oiahe.org.uk.