The School of Communication Arts believes that students should be entitled to have access to effective systems for handling any complaints that might arise during the course of their studies, as one way of ensuring the highest possible academic and service standards. Students should feel able to make a complaint, secure in the knowledge that it will be fairly investigated. This procedure is for informal or formal complaints about the delivery and quality of services received, or about the delivery and quality of teaching, tutorial support, supervisory provision or any other matters relating to the course.
The complaints procedure comprises a number of stages and can be used for complaints about the delivery and quality of services, teaching, tutorial/supervisory provision or any other matters relating to the course.
Students should be assured that the School of Communication Arts will deal with complaints appropriately so it should not be necessary to submit an anonymous complaint. As such, the School of Communication Arts will not normally accept anonymous complaints. Exceptionally, however, an anonymous complaint may be considered when the faculty accepts that there is a compelling case, supported by evidence, for the matter to be investigated. Raising concerns anonymously, however, could impede the investigation and communication of the outcome.
The School of Communication Arts will not normally consider a complaint made on behalf of a student or former student by a third party. We aim to deal with formal complaints within 90 calendar days of receipt of the formal complaint. If this is not possible, the student will be informed in writing of the progress made towards the consideration of the complaint.
Most difficulties can be resolved at an early stage by talking informally with the individual(s) most concerned with the issue at a local level, at the earliest opportunity. For example, if the complaint concerns academic matters, the student might wish to talk to a mentor or other members of faculty. If the complaint is about a service, then the student should talk to the member of staff from that service, for example an Operations Manager. The student might also wish to consider raising the matter with their student rep.
How to Make an Informal Complaint
Where a student has attempted to resolve matters by informal discussion but is not satisfied with the outcome, the student may wish to initiate an informal complaint. At this point, the student might find it beneficial to seek advice from [Max Woodall-Collins]. Please detail your complaint via email and send to [Max Woodall-Collins].
The following information should be included:
· details of the complaint;
· an explanation of the steps that have already been taken to try to resolve the complaint informally and why the responses received are not considered satisfactory;
· where applicable, the form of resolution or redress sought
It is important for the student to keep a copy of the form and any other documentation submitted, for their records. The student should expect an acknowledgement of their complaint within 5 working days and a full written response within 30 calendar days. If this is not possible, the student will be informed in writing of the progress being made towards the consideration of the complaint.
The complaint will be investigated by the Operations Manager. If the complaint is considered justified (upheld), the student will be informed of the means to resolve or redress the complaint. If the complaint is not upheld, then the student can expect to be given an explanation.
How to Make a Formal Complaint
If the problem has still not been resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student may wish to make a Formal Complaint by completing a Complaint Form and sending it to the address shown on the form. The Formal Complaint must be made within 30 calendar days on which the full written response to the Informal Complaint was provided, although a faculty member may extend this time limit.
If the complaint relates to a faculty member personally, then the student should forward their complaint email to an alternative member of management.
If the complaint concerns an academic matter, it will be referred to Marc Lewis, other matters will be dealt with by a senior staff member. The student should expect an acknowledgement of the complaint within 5 working days.
The student will be expected to set out the facts of the case clearly and succinctly. It is the student’s responsibility to provide evidence to substantiate the issues raised wherever possible. Copies of original documents will normally be accepted and can be scanned but they must be in a format that can be printed and copied. All information provided by the student as part of the complaint will be shared with the appropriate senior member(s) of staff considering the case.
If the complaint is considered justified (upheld), the student will be informed of the means to resolve or redress the complaint. If the complaint is not upheld, then the student can expect to be given an explanation. Where a staff member has provided written comments in response to the complaint, a copy of those comments will normally be sent to the student with the full written response.
If the student is not satisfied with the decision taken in respect of the complaint or academic appeal, they may wish to request a Case Review. The student may only request a Case Review on one or more of the following grounds:
1. that there was a material procedural irregularity which rendered the process leading to the decision taken in respect of the formal complaint or academic appeal unfair
2. that material which the student could not reasonably have been expected to produce at the time of the decision taken in respect of the formal complaint or academic appeal casts substantial doubt upon the appropriateness of that decision
3. that the decision taken in respect of the formal complaint or academic appeal was manifestly unreasonable
The request for a Case Review must be made within 10 working days of the full written response provided in relation to the formal complaint or academic appeal. Case Reviews can be requested by forwarding an email to the Operations Manager.
The request will be considered by the senior faculty who may decide:
1. to uphold the complaint;
2. to establish a Case Review Panel
3. that the matter should be referred for consideration in line with another procedure
4. that there are insufficient grounds to take further action, thus concluding the consideration of the matter under these procedures
Where a staff member or service has provided written comments in response to the request for a case review, a copy of those comments will be sent to the student at the time the decision is notified.
The student will be informed of the membership of the Case Review Panel, and the procedure to be followed, at least 15 working days in advance of the review date. The review will be conducted in private and all relevant facts will be taken into consideration. The student may attend and be accompanied by a friend or representative who may speak and act on the student’s behalf. The student may request any person to give evidence on their behalf and members of staff named in a complaint, or their representative, will also be invited to make their case to the Panel. The session will be recorded.
The student will be notified of the decision of the Case Review Panel in writing. If the complaint is upheld the student will be informed of the action to be taken to resolve the matter. If it is not upheld, then the student can expect to be given an explanation.
Without breaching confidentiality, all formal complaints and their associated responses and outcomes will be monitored by the School of Communication Arts.
The School of Communication Arts is unlikely to consider a complaint from a student or former student that has not been raised within three months of the issue about which a student wishes to complain. In exceptional circumstances complaints submitted beyond this time frame may be considered if there is deemed a valid reason to do so.
The School of Communication Arts may exceptionally terminate or suspend consideration of a complaint or academic appeal where a student’s behaviour is vexatious, frivolous, disruptive or otherwise unacceptable, for example where aggressive or unreasonable demands are made, where demands for redress lack serious purpose or value, or where repeated representations are made on matters which have already been considered under these procedures.
Where a student’s behaviour appears to constitute misconduct in line with the Student Discipline Policy, action may be taken in line with that policy.
These procedures do not affect a student’s legal rights in any way.
Max Woodall-Collins – Operations Manager
Marc Lewis – School Dean and Business Director