What is a student complaint?
A complaint is defined as any expression of dissatisfaction with the standard of service provided by the University, or with the actions or lack of actions by the University or members of staff. Any complaint against a named member of staff will be addressed as a complaint against the University. Grounds for complaint might include:
- Dissatisfaction with the standard of academic or service provision (eg course design, curriculum content and structure, assessment arrangements and information, resources and facilities, halls of residence).
- Dissatisfaction with the quality of supervision or tuition.
- Issues of inappropriate conduct by a member of staff.
- Failure, on the part of the University, to meet stated obligations (eg those set out in the prospectus or on the website).
The University works hard to provide a high-quality service to you at all times and in all areas and activities. However, if you ever feel that the standard of academic or service delivery falls short of what may reasonably be expected, you should refer to the Student Complaints Procedure to find out how best to raise and resolve issues.
Complaints are dealt with without recrimination. This means that if you make a complaint in good faith and in accordance with this procedure, you will not suffer any disadvantage or reproach and your studies while at the University will not be prejudiced as the result of making a complaint.
Who can use the Students Complaints Procedure?
The Student Complaints Procedure is intended for the use of current or former students at the University of Westminster. For current students, this applies whether or not you are currently in attendance, interrupted or on a placement.
Prospective students and applicants should not use this complaints procedure.
If you are a former student and wish to complain about an aspect of the University’s provision that you have experienced since you ceased to be a student, you may not bring a complaint under this procedure, however please do contact the Alumni Relations team who will endeavour to assist you.
The complaints procedure should not be used to:
- request a new or different service or provision
- express complaints about individuals or organisations with which the University does not have a contractual relationship
If you would like to request a new or different service or provision, please contact the appropriate departmental manager.
The difference between complaints and academic appeals
An Academic Appeal is defined as a request for a review of an Assessment Board decision or Mitigating Circumstances Board decision. Assessment Boards make decisions on student progress, assessment and awards. An Academic Appeal may be submitted if you believe you have a valid case, based on evidence, that there has been a material irregularity in the assessment process or in the Mitigating Circumstances (MC) process. A material irregularity means the University has not acted in accordance with its own regulations or procedures, or where an error has been made in the processing of a decision.
The Student Complaints Procedure may not be used to challenge academic judgement concerning performance and progress, or to appeal against the decision of an assessment board. If you would like to request for a review of a decision of an Assessment Board charged with decisions on student progress, assessment and awards, and/or the outcomes of the mitigating circumstances process then please pursue the academic appeals process.
How do I make a complaint about the Students’ Union?
As the Student Union (UWSU) is a separate organisation and as such complaints regarding the UWSU or the service it provides must be raised using the Student Union Complaint Procedure which you can access via their website.
Once you have received a decision following the completion of the final stage of the UWSU complaint procedure, if you remain dissatisfied with how UWSU has dealt with your complaint you may request a review in accordance with the Appendix A within the University Student Complaints Procedure.
If you have any questions regarding the UWSU complaint procedure please contact the Students' Union.
Student Complaints Procedure
The University recognises its duty to make reasonable adjustments to our procedures. If you require any reasonable adjustments, such as accessing documentation in a different format, please contact the Academic Standards team.
Where a complaint is raised by more than one student, it may be dealt with as one collective complaint (a 'Group Complaint'). However, students submitting a Group Complaint must complete the following additional administrative steps:
One of the students in the Group agrees in writing to be the Lead Contact for the Group. The University will only contact the Lead Contact in connection with the Group Complaint. The University will expect the Lead Contact to distribute the University's communications among the Group and collate the Group's response to the University's enquiries to give to the University. The University cannot be held responsible if the Lead Contact does not accurately provide the views of any member of the Group or if they do not pass on information from the University.
All students in the Group agree in writing that the Lead Contact can represent them in the Group Complaint.
All students in the Group must be able to demonstrate in writing that they have been personally affected by the matter being complained about.
Stage 1 – Informal resolution
There are a number of ways to make your concerns heard, and most problems can be resolved early on and informally with the relevant parties. Bear in mind that whatever your concern or complaint, it is important that you raise it promptly, so that it can be addressed and an appropriate solution found as soon as possible.
Students are advised in the first instance to raise their complaints informally with an appropriate member of staff. There are many opportunities to feedback comments or concerns about your studies or well-being to teaching staff, course committees, the Students’ Union and Corporate Services teams. If you are not comfortable raising your complaint with that person, you should instead contact someone more senior.
If you are unsure who you need to contact, then you should seek guidance from the Students’ Union or the Academic Standards team. They will be able to advise you of the most appropriate person with whom you should raise your complaint, and how to contact them.
If the issue or problem cannot be resolved informally in this way, you will need to move to the next, formal stage of the complaint procedure – stage 2.
Stage 2 - Formal complaint
You are strongly advised to seek guidance from the Students' Union Advice Service before you submit your stage 2 formal complaint. The Students' Union Advice Service can provide friendly, independent advice and guide you through the Complaints procedure. Their contact details can be found on the Students’ Union website.
You will need to complete and submit the stage 2 formal complaint via e:Vision to the Academic Standards team no later than 90 days after the incident has happened. An extension of these time limits will only be possible in exceptional circumstances. If your complaint has been made outside of these time limits, please ensure you detail the reason for this on the e:Vision form
The online form can be accessed by logging into your student record via e:Vision and going into the ‘My Self-Service’ menu. Please see the Student Complaints User Guide for further information on how to use the online form.
The University will normally only consider a formal complaint where it has been submitted using the online form accessible via e: vision. If you are unable to submit your complaint via e:Vision please contact the Academic Standards team, [email protected].
Once received, the Academic Standards team will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and check that all parts of the form have been completed. If your complaint is eligible for investigation the Academic Standards team will forward your complaint to the appropriate investigating officer, normally within 10 working days of receipt of the completed form.
The investigating officer will endeavour to conclude the investigation and notify you of the outcome within 25 working days of receipt of the complaint from the Academic Standards team. This will be done via e:Vision. In more complex cases, or during periods such as University vacations when parties to the complaint may not be available, this timescale may not be achievable. In such cases, you will be notified of any delay.
When the investigation is concluded, you will be informed in writing of the outcome of your complaint. This will include a summary of the facts as found by the Investigating Officer, the decision and clear reasons for that decision, and any remedial actions arising from that decision. The outcome will be communicated to you via e: Vision.
If you have any questions regarding the Student Complaints Procedure you can contact the Academic Standards team:
Important: When pursuing a complaint, it is important that you are aware of the University's related Unacceptable Behaviour Policy.
Stage 3 - Appeal against the Formal Complaint Decision
Should you be dissatisfied with the stage 2 outcome of your complaint, you have the right to request the Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) to refer the matter for consideration by a Student Complaints Appeal Panel.
Please note: Stage 2 of the complaint process must be complete in order to progress to stage 3.
Your request to appeal against the formal complaint decision, must be received by the Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) within 10 working days of the date of notification of the stage 2 outcome. Where such a request is not received by the deadline the University’s internal procedures are completed.
You will need to submit a completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal via e:Vision with all evidence relating to the grounds for the request. The Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) will acknowledge receipt of the request in writing normally within five working days.
The option to appeal the decision will be available directly from your online complaint case file. Please see the Complaint Student User guide for details on how to submit an appeal.
Your stage 3 appeal will only be considered on the following grounds:
- That there was a material irregularity in the consideration of your complaint at stage 2
- That new evidence has come to light to support your complaint which could not reasonably have been made available at the time the complaint was submitted, and that this new evidence would have had a material impact on the outcome
- That the outcome was manifestly unreasonable in light of the evidence
- That no reasons for the decision were given, or that the reasons given do not support the decision.
The Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) shall notify you in writing of the decision, and the reasons for it, normally within 15 working days of receipt of the request. Where it is not possible for the Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) to meet this deadline, you will be informed and will be advised of the reasons for the delay.
Complaints about Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated activities
For complaints about FCA regulated activities refer to the Student Complaints Procedure for FCA regulated activities. This procedure applies only to these specific areas:
- Debt advice
- Instalment credit arrangements
What if I am still dissatisfied with the outcomes of the Complaints Process?
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the University’s attempts to resolve your complaint, you may refer your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). You should ensure that you familiarise yourself carefully with the requirements of the OIA for making a complaint including in relation to the timescale for doing so. Further details about the OIA can be obtained from the OIA website.