Complaints

 

If students are unhappy with any service or lack of service by the university, a student can raise a complaint via the university complaints procedure.

Before you put in in a complaint, you need to think carefully about the outcome you wish to achieve.

We understand that at times things can be frustrating for students and there is a need to communicate concerns that are affecting them. It is always better to raise an issue that is bothering you earlier, informally, than leaving it till last minute.

The complaints procedure is an internal process written by the university, which means that the university will take it on themselves to look into the complaint and try and resolve this as per the complaints policy.

The internal procedure also allows an independent person not directly connected to investigate the complaint.

The university prefers and highly recommends that students try resolving issues informally so that an earlier resolution can be sought without the need to go through a lengthier process. The university recognises that majority of complaints are usually resolved at conciliation but there are instances when this is not possible.

It is not always the case that a resolution can be sought at an earlier stage and this is why there is a formalised stage to a complaint.

 

Please click the following links to skip to the relevant sections of this guide.

 

What constitutes a Complaint?

What is a Program Representative and can they help?

What doesn’t the Complaints Procedure cover?

What is the difference between Academic Appeal and Complaint?

Who can make a Complaint?

Stage 1 – Conciliation

Stage 2 – Formal Complaint

Stage 3 – Appeal to the Vice Chancellor’s Office

How do I complete the formal complaint’s form?

What happens after a Formal Complaints form (Stage 2) has been lodged?

What happens after the case is sent to a responsible manager?

What happens if my case is passed on to the Appeals Liaison Officer?

What is a group complaint?

When does a complaint need to be submitted?

Can I proceed straight onto the Stage 2 – Formal Complaint?

What if I am a Research Student?

I am out of time to lodge a formal complaint, what can I do?

Can the student union attend the Conciliation Meeting and any Panel meetings with me?

I am not happy with a fellow student and wish to make a complaint against him/her?

 

Useful Links

You can find the complaints form in the following link. Click here to open the link

For an overview, you can also find the UEL complaints procedure flowchart on the following link. Click to open this link.

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What constitutes a Complaint?

Complaints can be related to the following issues but not limited to this as we understand that each case and situation is different:-

  • the conduct of a member of staff at the university
     
  • the delivery of a programme  
                                       
  • a service provided by the university (this can be any departments that are employed  the university)

If you’re unsure if your problem falls under the scope of the complaints procedure you may want to book an appointment with us or email via studentadvice@uel.ac.uk

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What is a Program Representative and can they help?

Program Representive can address student issues relating to the program itself and they can assist you with problems on your course. They can raise your concerns to the program committee to see if any change or improvements can be made. If you wish to find out who your program rep is, please click on this link http://www.uelunion.org/representation/schoolreps/. Alternatively you can email Nishaant Kumar from the Students Union, who is the Representation Coordinator (n.kumar@uel.ac.uk)

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What doesn’t the Complaints Procedure cover?

It is worth noting before putting in a complaint that the following categories do not fall within the complaints process. There are separate procedures to follow and we recommend that you click on the necessary sections on our website to find out more information on these categories.

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What is the difference between Academic Appeal and Complaint?

At times it can be confusing whether your case falls within a Complaint or Appeal. Sometimes your case may fall between the two. If you are unsure, you can always book an appointment with the Students’ Union to get advice on this.  

Academic Appeal is when you are disputing whether the correct procedure was followed when marking your work. You would most likely put in an appeal when you feel there was some material irregularity or administrative error relating to your assessments or your support needs were not met and as a result you suffered a disadvantage to your assessment.  

Please refer to our section regarding Appeals for further guidance. For matters relating to this, you would not put in a complaint as this is related to your assessments and a complaint would not overturn a decision relating to your assessments.

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Who can make a Complaint?

All students can put in a complaint.

The procedure is not restricted to just students from the university and is open to prospective university students and members of the public, though we will only be able to provide advice to current UEL students following our Service Standards.

These are the 3 stages in the complaints procedure:-

1. Conciliation

2. Formal Complaint and  

3. Appeal to Vice Chancellors Group (complaints panel)

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Stage 1 – Conciliation

If you are not happy with a service or lack of service, you should raise this with those concerned informally. This can be either by contacting them to arrange a meeting or simply dropping an email raising the concern or issue you may have.

This step would be considered as the “Conciliation” or informal stage, as the first part of the complaints process. It is recommended that this step is taken before the 2nd Stage which is the Formal Complaint.

Stage one can be considered as the informal process in an attempt to try and get the matter resolve through conciliation, without the need to formalise the complaint.

This should be raised as soon as possible and no more than 10 days after the failure in the service.

The school or department concerned would usually invite you to a meeting and it is important that you attend as the aim of the meeting would be to listen and address your concerns. They will aim to get back to you within 10 working days from the date of the meeting/email. If you are not happy with the resolution or outcome of the informal process, you can then proceed to the next stage which is Stage 2 – Formal Complaint.

If you wish, we can attend the meeting with you.

It’s important to note that this stage of the complaint is not mandatory but you may be asked why you did not attempt an informal resolution.

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Stage 2 – Formal Complaint

If you are not happy with the outcome of Stage 1, you will need to put in a written complaint within 2 months from the time you became dissatisfied with a service or within 10 working days of the date of conciliation meeting.

The form must be lodged with complaints@uel.ac.uk.

This also applies to those who have proceeded directly to Stage 2 without conciliation.

There are 3 sections to the complaints form which you need to complete along with a declaration confirming that the contents you have provide are true to the best of your knowledge.

If the complaint is made by a research student about the quality of supervision, the complaint form should be lodged with Quality Assurance & Enhancement within six months after first perceiving that there is inadequate supervision or provision of materials or equipment.

Once you submit your form, you will receive an acknowledgement within 5 working days of receiving the form.

Your complaint will be investigated by the most appropriate manager in the service or School which you have complained about.

You should receive a full response to your complaint in writing within 15 working days.

We can guide you on how to draft the form (please see here) and can take a look at the form before you submit to Quality Assurance. Please contact us via studentadvice@uel.ac.uk

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Stage 3 – Appeal to the Vice Chancellor’s Office

You can ask the matter to be reviewed if you are not satisfied with the outcome and need to send a written notice to complaints@uel.ac.uk in order to do this.

The Associate Head of Legal and Governance will review the complaint and see if there is a prima facie case – ie if there is sufficient evidence for the case to be reviewed at this stage.

The criteria they will follow is:

(a)    there is, at the time, still a complaint which comes under the scope of this procedure;

(b)    the student's desired outcome to the complaint is achievable;

(c)    the complaint was lodged within the set time limit.

They will decide within 10 working if the matter can be sent to the Complaints Review Panel.

If there is no prima facie case, you will receive a statement explaining why and they will send you a completions of procedure letter.

If you wish you can put in a complaint to the Office for the Independent Adjudicator. We would advise that you consult with us at this point by booking an appointment.

If there is a prima facie case there are a few options which may take place:

  • If deemed appropriate or useful, a mediatory meeting the parties involved at Stage 1 could be suggested
     
  • If a mediatory meeting is successful, the outcome would be relayed to all parties within 10 days
     
  • If Mediatory meeting unsuccessful, a complaints review panel will be convened – usually happens within 30 working days

The decision of the review panel will be final, and will result in a completion of procedures letter being issued.

We can attend the complaints panel with you and provide advice.

The panel will consist of several members of UEL staff that are not involved in the complaint. You would be able to put your case to them, and the School or service may send a representative to state their position.

The panel will decide on the outcome, and let you know within 10 working days.

At this point if you are still not satisfied you can put in a complaint to the Office for the Independent Adjudicator. We would advise that you consult with us at this point by booking an appointment.

For the full procedure, times and dates of the complaints review panel, please refer to the policy page 8 -9 of Part 14 of the policy.

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How do I complete the formal complaint’s form?

There are 3 sections to the complaints form.

Section 1 Your details - This is self-explanatory and requires basic information such as your name, course, ID, program of study, correspondence etc.

Section 2 Your complaint Section two covers details about conciliation and the nature of your complaint. This part is very important as it forms the basis of your complaint. You will note that there are two boxes that you need to complete for section 2.

In the first box, you will be asked whether you have attempted to conciliate and the dates and time this happen. If you have not made attempts to conciliate, you will need to explain why you have not made attempts to conciliate (Stage 1).

In the second box which is the larger one, you will see that there are three columns in the box. ‘Date of incident’, ‘Nature of complaint (please summarise the key points)’ and ‘Please summarise how you would like to see your complaint resolved’.

This covers the date of the incident. It may be that you have one incident or many incidents that have occurred, but the dates will help structure your arguments/points.

If you have more than one incident relevant to the complaint that fell on separate dates, you will need to record each incident in the box.

You will see the heading ‘Nature of complaint (please summarise the key points)’. Here you will describe the relevant key points in relation to your complaint. It is best to keep it simple but ensure that the relevant points are made. You will need to refer clearly to any evidence to support your complaint, attaching this when you send your complaint to complaints@uel.ac.uk.

Next to this you will see a column title which states ‘Please summarise how you would like to see your complaint resolved’. You need to write down what your desired outcome is for your complaint. For example ‘I would like for my tutors to provide me with written feedback’

 

Date of incident

 

 

Nature of complaint (please summarise the key points)

Please summarise how you would like to see your complaint resolved

 

Section 3 – Time Limits this part needs to be completed if you miss deadlines to put in a complaint. If you have exceptional reasons for missing the time limits, you will need to provide your reasons in this section and refer to any evidence.

If you are on time for your complaint, you can ignore this section and proceed further.

Section 4 – Declaration –The University are required to obtain your consent to hold some of your information on the database, and to disclose your information to University staff, legal advisors purely for the purpose into the investigation of your complaint.

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What happens after a Formal Complaints form (Stage 2) has been lodged?

An Investigation will commence.

The complaint will be investigated by the Complaints Liaison Officer who will write to the student when the investigation has begun.  

You should be informed of the person investigating the complaint.

Usually a response would be sent within 15 working days or sometimes longer if period falls outside academic calendar.

The response could be either of the following:-
 

  • Grounds on which a decision or settlement has been reached.

 

  • Passed on to the Appeals Liaison Officer if considered to be more appropriately investigated through the Appeals Procedure then the Complaints Liaison Officer will pass on the complaint to an Appeals Liaison officer. The complaint will then be processed as an appeal.

 

  • Investigation commenced and the Complaints Liaison Officer sends a copy of forms along with other documents to a responsible manager asking them to respond to the complainant within 15 days

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What happens after the case is sent to a responsible manager?

The responsible manager can make one of the following decisions under the rule of natural justice:

(a)      to dismiss the complaint;

(b)      to suggest an amicable settlement to the complainant and member of staff if appropriate.

(c)      to find the complaint justified and make an offer of redress to the complainant, e.g. an apology and/or appropriate recommendations to the UEL School or Service or placement organisation.

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What happens if my case is passed on to the Appeals Liaison Officer?

You may be asked to lodge a formal appeal instead, and complete the relevant forms. Please refer to our page on this issue.

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What is a group complaint?

A group complaint is where several students feel dissatisfied with the same issue. Sometimes doing a group complaint may hold more weight because there a several students complaint about the same thing. If there is a group complaint, one person should be nominated to be the spokesperson so they can communicate on the group’s behalf.

Students as part of a group complaint should read the complaint form and provide some kind of signed declaration stating that they agree with the form and are part of the complaint.

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When does a complaint need to be submitted?

It depends. For example at Stage 1, the complaint should be raised as soon as possible. This is normally no more than 10 days from the date you first became dissatisfied with the service or from 10 days from when you first had your conciliation meeting.

The form should be completed and sent to the Complaints Liaison Officer, Quality Assurance and Enhancement, University of East London, Docklands Campus, 4-6 University Way, London, E16 2RD or to complaints@uel.ac.uk.  You should receive an acknowledgement within one week of lodging your completed complaint form.

Always remember to keep record of your form and receipt, this would be proof of posting or email receipt.

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Can I proceed straight onto the Stage 2 – Formal Complaint?

Yes, you can. Whilst every reasonable step should be taken to informally conciliate, the student has a right to proceed on to stage 2 of the complaints procedure and submit the complaints form if they think this is necessary or the informal stage is nor working or appropriate.

This should be done within 2 calendar months from the date you became dissatisfied with the service or within 10 working days of any informal conciliatory meeting.

However although this is possible, we would advise students that they make every reasonable effort to resolve their complaint informally through meeting with the member of the staff concerned and we are happy to help you assist you here.

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What if I am a Research Student?

You would follow the normal complaints process. However research students are given six months to submit a formal complaint after finding issues with the supervision or provision of materials or equipment.

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I am out of time to lodge a formal complaint, what can I do?

The completed complaints form should be lodged with the Complaints Liaison Officer within the time limits detailed in the Complaints Procedure.  An extension of these time limits will only be possible in exceptional circumstances, such as illness, an apparent risk of victimisation, personal embarrassment or other hindrance beyond the student's control.  If your complaint has been made outside of the timeframe, you will need to explain in your form why the complaint is late and provide any supporting evidence.

We advise that you should aim to submit the form without any undue delay as soon as you are able to do so.

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Can the student union attend the Conciliation Meeting and any Panel meetings with me?

Yes we can provided that we receive reasonable notice regarding the venue, location, time and date of the meeting. Please contact us via studentadvice@uel.ac.uk

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I am not happy with a fellow student's conduct and wish to make a complaint against him/her?

You cannot make a complaint against a fellow student through this policy. Part 12 Manual of General Regulations and the Personal Dignity Policy cover complaints about the behaviour of other students.

We are able to assist you with these issues and would advise you make an appointment.

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Docklands Campus:

UEL Students' Union (NB.G.01)
University of East London
4-6 University Way
London
E16 2RD

Reception: 0208 223 7025

General Enquiries: uelsu@uel.ac.uk

Stratford Campus:

UEL Students' Union (UH - The Dome)
University of East London
Water Lane
London
E15 4LZ

Reception: 0208 223 4209

Registered Charity Number: 1150963
© UEL Students' Union 2013
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