UAL’s complaints procedure allows students to raise concerns or grievances and specify a better way forward.  Complaints, once raised, must be investigated impartially by the University unless they are considered ‘vexatious’.   

Grounds for complaints:  

You may face a number of issues during your study: however, some of these are not covered by the University’s complaints procedure and are dealt with via a different procedure.  

Here are some issues that can be dealt with by the University’s complaints procedure:  

  •  Complaints against specific lecturers or staff-members. If their behavior is also a breach of the staff code of conduct, the case will be referred to the University’s HR Department.  
  • Complaints related to discriminatory behavior from staff: for example, if lecturers have used unnecessary and bigoted language during teaching. 
  • Complaints against specific departments: for example, if the actions or policies of a department have detrimentally impacted you.  
  • Curriculum-related complaints: for example, if your lecturers have not been turning up to seminars or you believe your course is indirectly discriminatory against you.  
  • Complaints made by a group of students who all wish to raise the same matter.  

Here are some issues that are not dealt with by the University’s complaints procedure: 

  • Complaints about grades you receive. This must be dealt with through the appeals process.  
  • Complaints about the outcome of a disciplinary procedure: these complaints are pursued through a separate appeal, which you should be directed towards when you receive the outcome of the disciplinary procedure.  
  • Complaints about fellow students. These cases are referred to the student conduct regulations and can be reported directly to the Dean.  
  • Anonymous complaints are usually not dealt with under the procedure. However, in exceptional circumstances, the University Secretary and Registrar may pursue an anonymous complaint.  
  • Complaints made by former students who have graduated more than 3 months ago.  

How can the Students’ Union support you in making a complaint? 

  • We’ll advise you on the process, 
  • We’ll help you to put forward an argument in your complaint enquiry form, 
  • We’ll read over any documents or emails, 
  • We’ll accompany you to any meetings or Complaint Review Panels, 
  • We’ll support you in referring your case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. 

Timeline for making a complaint: 

Complaints should ideally be made within the same academic year as the relevant event. However, please do not be put off if this is not the case: as you may be able to explain why you did not make a complaint earlier. 

If you have graduated, you must submit a complaint within 3 months of receiving your Exam Board decision. 

All complaints are submitted via the University’s Complaint Enquiry Form. This is the port of call for both informal concerns and Formal Complaints. In your responses, you can specify if you want your complaint to be treated informally or formally.  

The completed form is referred to your College Students Complaints Officer.  

If you have not specified whether your complaint is a formal complaint or an informal concern, then the SCO will decide what is most appropriate. 

Informal complaints

 

If the complaint can be resolved informally, the SCO will likely invite you to a meeting. 

Formal complaints

 

If the complaint needs to be dealt with formally, it will be referred to an investigation. You will be notified of this.  

The SCO may escalate the complaint to a formal complaint, or continue to pursue it informally.  

The SCO will appoint an Investigating Manager. They will be responsible for gathering evidence and writing a report for the consideration of the Dean and SCO.  

If they continue to pursue it as an informal concern, they should resolve it within 10 working days. 

Within 28 working days of the Investigating Manager being appointed, an investigation will be carried out and you will be informed of the outcome.  

Resolutions may include: meetings with staff and/or mediation.  

After receiving the outcome, you have 28 working days to appeal via a Final Complaint Review.  

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the informal process, you can then pursue a formal complaint.  

An outcome will be sent within 30 working days. During this time, you may be asked to attend a Complaints Review Panel.  

If the University accepts your complaint, they will suggest a resolution.  

If the University rejects your complaint, they may refer it to the University Secretary or University Legal Team, or they may reject it outright.  

Once any outcome is reached, you will receive a Completion of Procedures Letter. This means you can refer your case to the OIA.  

 

The Complaint Enquiry Form: 

You’ll need to –  

  • Explain the reason for your complaint, 
  • Specify the key points of the complaint that require a specific response, 
  • Indicate the remedy you are seeking,  
  • List the evidence and attach this as a zip file, or individual word, PDF, or image files.  

In your response, you may want to add a sentence expressing your wish for an informal or formal resolution, if you have a particular preference for one over the other.  

For advice about the evidence to attach, please get in contact with us. Evidence can include screenshots of emails, supporting letters of evidence from internal and external staff-members, and any medical evidence, but it’s best to ask us if you are unsure.

Outcomes: 

These may include –  

  • An apology from the relevant party, 
  • Financial compensation,  
  • Improvement to facilities, 
  • Introduction of better reasonable adjustments,  
  • Correction of timetables, 
  • The opportunity to resubmit or retake units, however this will usually be dealt with through the academic appeals process.  

Complaints about bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination: 

Please see our dedicated information page here.

How can the Office of the Independent Adjudicator help? 

If you exhaust the University’s internal complaint procedures, you can refer your case for review to the OIA. This is done by submitting an OIA complaint form, which is available online and must be submitted within 12 months of the relevant incident. 

The OIA is an independent body, which is free of charge to access and which investigates students’ complaints. If the OIA upholds your complaint against the University after carrying out an independent investigation, then the University will have to follow OIA’s recommendations for resolution. 

We can assist you with the OIA process.  

Contact the SU Advice Service: 

Contact an Adviser here.  

Book a telephone appointment here.  

Other useful links 

UAL Student Complaints Page