Student Complaints Procedures
(Version effective from 1 August 2022)
- This Ordinance sets out the procedure which enables the University to address student complaints promptly and fairly. The focus is to resolve complaints at the earliest possible stage in a timely, fair and transparent manner.
- Reference to the Academic Registrar, Deans of School and Directors of Services shall include their nominees. Reference to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor shall mean Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience) in the case of a complaint from a student on a taught programme, or Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) or the academic lead for the Doctoral College in the case of a complaint from a research student (doctoral researcher).
- A report on the operation of the student complaints procedure will be made annually to Senate and Council.
- A complaint is defined as the expression of a specific concern relating to matters or services provided by Loughborough University that affect the quality of a student’s learning opportunities or student experience.
- The complaints ordinance applies to all current students, up to and including a period of three-months following the end of a student’s period of registration. Complaints submitted outside of this timescale shall only be considered in exceptional circumstances and where good reason is provided for the delay.
- Some matters will normally be considered under separate processes rather than as a complaint under this ordinance. For example:
- Requests to review the decision of a Programme or Review Board or the decision of research degree examiners shall normally constitute an academic appeal and be considered under Regulation XIV in the case of Programme or Review Boards and Section 15 of Regulation XXVI in the case of research degrees.
- Matters relating to misconduct or harassment by another student or member of staff shall normally be considered under the relevant disciplinary procedure (e.g. Ordinance XVII – Conduct and Discipline of Students; Staff Disciplinary Policy and Procedure; Harassment and Bullying Policy), unless a student wishes to complain about how the University dealt with the matter under these procedures.
- Academic misconduct shall normally be considered under Regulation XVIII.
- A separate appeals and complaints procedure is in place for applicants.
Should there be any doubt concerning which procedure applies in an individual case, the Academic Registrar shall advise, and will explain to the student how the matters will be investigated, where responsibility for overall conduct of the matter lies and who will issue the final decision.
- Students who are considering making a complaint are encouraged to seek advice and support from the Student Advice and Support Service. Independent advice is available from the Students’ Union. Contact details for the support services are available from the Academic Registrar or on the Students' Union website.
- Complaints will be handled with an appropriate level of confidentiality, with information released only to those who need it for the purposes of investigating or responding to the complaint. No third party will be told any more about the investigation than is strictly necessary in order to obtain the information required from them, and to ensure a thorough and fair investigation.
- Complainants will not be disadvantaged for raising a complaint if they have done so in good faith.
- While all complaints shall be considered as submitted in good faith, frivolous or vexatious complaints will be dismissed. Where a complaint is determined to be frivolous or vexatious the student shall be notified in writing of the decision and the reasons for it and have the right to request a review. Example of frivolous or vexatious complaints include: those which are obsessive, harassing, or repetitive; insistence on pursuing non-meritorious complaints; complaints with unrealistic and/or unreasonable outcomes; complaints which are designed to cause disruption or annoyance; demands for redress which lack any serious purpose or value.
- Where an issue affects a number of students, those students may submit a complaint as a ‘group complaint’. In such circumstances, the University may ask the group to nominate one student to act as group representative, and may then communicate solely through the representative and expect them to liaise with the other students in the group. However, while complaints may be submitted and potentially investigated collectively, it may be that distinct individualised resolutions are appropriate to take into account the specific circumstances of each student involved.
- The University will not normally consider anonymous complaints but may do so in exceptional circumstances if there is a compelling case, supported by evidence, for the matter to be investigated. Students should be aware, however, that raising a concern anonymously might impede the investigation and communication of the outcome. If insufficient information is provided to allow an anonymous complaint to be investigated, the matter will be closed.
- Students are encouraged to raise any complaint at the earliest possible opportunity and, in the first instance, with the member of staff most closely involved with the matter of concern. The aim will be to resolve the complaint quickly and informally to the satisfaction of all parties.
- Where action under paragraph 13 has not resolved the student’s concerns they may request that the Dean of School or the Director of the relevant Service investigate the complaint in order to facilitate an informal resolution.
- If a student remains dissatisfied after the consideration of their complaint at the informal stage, or if the complaint directly concerns the Dean of School or the Director of the relevant Service, the student has the right to submit a formal complaint.
- A formal complaint should be made in writing to the Academic Registrar at the earliest opportunity and normally within three months of the last event of concern to which it refers. To assist prompt consideration of the complaint students should provide the following as far as possible:
- A clear statement of the nature of the complaint.
- Independent evidence supporting the case.
- An indication of the action sought from the University.
- The Academic Registrar will undertake an initial consideration of the complaint. This may include further communication with the student and other relevant parties in order to gain a full understanding of the situation. All information will be shared with the student before a decision is made under paragraph 18 below.
- Having undertaken an appropriate investigation of the complaint the Academic Registrar will make a decision as follows:
- Advise the student that, in their view, the complaint does not appear to be substantiated and inform the student of their right for a final review under paragraph 21.
- Seek to reach a resolution to the complaint with the student and ensure that appropriate actions for redress are undertaken. If this is not successful, the Academic Registrar will confirm to the student their right for a final review under paragraph 21.
- Advise the student that the complaint is referred to the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor and/or the Chief Operating Officer for consideration (with or without further investigation).
- Where the Academic Registrar’s decision is that referral to the relevant senior officer is required under paragraph 18.c, the Academic Registrar or an alternate member of staff, may seek additional information and will provide this to the relevant senior officer who will either reject the complaint or offer a resolution to the student.
- The student will normally be notified of the decision on their formal complaint and the reasons for it, no later than 30 working days from submission. However, where cases are particularly complex or key individuals are not available to comment for reasons beyond the University’s control, this timescale may be exceeded. Where a complaint exceeds 30 working days a student shall be notified of the delay and provided with an expected timescale for completion.
- If a student remains dissatisfied with the decision of the Academic Registrar or senior officer under paragraphs 18 and 19 they may request a final review, which will be undertaken by a relevant senior officer who has had no prior involvement with the case.
- A request for a final review must be submitted within 10 working days of the notification of the outcome to a formal complaint.
- The review stage will not usually consider the complaint afresh or undertake a further investigation but will consider the following:
- Whether an appropriate investigation was undertaken at the formal stage.
- Whether the outcome of the formal stage was reasonable and in accordance with the facts as far as it has been possible to determine these.
- Whether there is new relevant evidence which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process.
- The Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer shall make a decision as follows:
- Confirm that the formal stage undertook an appropriate investigation and that the decision was reasonable.
- Determine that further investigation is necessary and notify the student of the timescale.
- Offer an alternative resolution to the complaint and ensure appropriate actions for redress are taken.
- The Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer shall respond as soon as possible and notify the student of the outcome and the reasons for it in writing no later than 30 working days from submission of the review request. This letter shall constitute a completion of procedures letter and indicate that Loughborough’s consideration of the complaint is complete. The decision of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer shall be final.
Submission to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator
- If a complainant is not satisfied with the outcome following the final review they may submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). Information about submitting a complaint to the OIA shall be contained in the completion of procedures letter issued at the conclusion of the final review and can also be found on the OIA’s website.