Stage 3: Appeal to the University's Complaints Committee
Appeal to the University Complaints Committee (“the Committee”) is the final stage of the university's internal process. Complainants may appeal to the Committee if they believe a satisfactory outcome has not been reached at Stage 2, or they wish for that outcome to be reviewed.
Appeal to the Committee must normally be made within one calendar month of the completion of Stage 2 of the procedure. The Chair of the Committee may dismiss complaints made after this time unless the student provides evidence of exceptional circumstance that meant the published timescales could not be met.
The Chair's decision, in relation to timescales, is final and not subject to review by any other university body. The complainant may, however, be eligible to take their case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.
The Student Appeals and Conduct Officer may also refer a complaint to the Committee if he/she believes that a satisfactory outcome cannot be achieved at Stage 2.
In the case of disputes concerning release from a De Montfort University accommodation licence or the level of tuition, accommodation or other fees charged by the university which have been reviewed by the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer, such appeals are considered by the Chair of the Committee on the basis of documentary evidence only, which may include a written statement from the complainant.
The Chair of the Committee may refer the case to a full meeting of the Committee if he/she believes the case to be sufficiently serious as to require such a hearing. The Chair's decision is final and not subject to review by any other university body. This does not affect a complainant's rights in law.
If the decision is taken to consider the case by Committee, the meeting will normally be convened no later than one calendar month after the University has received the Stage 3 complaint. If this timescale cannot be met the complainant will receive a written explanation as to why from the Clerk to the Committee.
The Committee consists of:
- A non-staff member of the Board of Governors or recently retired Governor in the Chair
- A member of the De Montfort Students' Union Executive (normally the DSU President)
- A senior member of university staff who has no connection with the complaint, complainant or the department against which the complaint is made
In most cases it is expected that the student will present their case in person to the Committee. The student may be accompanied by a representative (as defined in the Glossary to the University’s General Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students) and call witnesses.
In exceptional circumstances the student may ask a representative to present the case on their behalf. In such a case, unless there are exceptional reasons which might prevent the student from attending (explained in writing), the student must also be present. The Chair makes the decision as to whether the case should be presented by the student's representative in his/her absence. The Chair's decision is final and not subject to review by any other university body.
The complainant has the right to ask the Committee to consider their case in their absence on the basis of documentary evidence, which may include a written statement from the complainant.
If the case is considered using documentary evidence, only the Clerk to the Committee will collate a report noting the decisions and comments of all members of the Committee which will be held on file.
Before the date of the Committee meeting the complainant must:
- Inform the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer in writing if they will not be attending the meeting of the Committee arranged to hear their case. If confirmation is not received the case will be heard in the complainant's absence on the basis of documentary evidence.
- Inform the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer in writing if they will be accompanied by a representative, who that representative will be and in what capacity they are attending. The Committee reserves the right to adjourn any hearing if this information is not provided in advance.
- Inform the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer in writing of the resolution they are seeking. The Committee reserves the right to adjourn any hearing if this information is not provided in advance.
- Inform the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer in writing and in advance of the hearing of the names of any witnesses they intend calling.
The local manager responsible for the service about which the complaint is raised has the same rights to attend, be accompanied by a colleague and call witnesses.
The Complaints Committee may conduct itself as it sees fit, with the agreement of the parties concerned, to achieve an acceptable resolution. The proceedings are intended to be non-adversarial. The Committee can review all documents relevant to the complaint and may require the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer to provide a report on the management of the complaint. The Committee and complainant will receive all the necessary paperwork at least 10 working days prior to the hearing.
In reaching a decision the Committee may consider:
- Whether the relevant procedures were considered during Stages 1 and 2
- Whether the outcome at Stage 2 was reasonable in all the circumstances
- Whether the student has received clear reasons as to why the complaint was dismissed at Stage 2
- Whether new material evidence has been provided and whether the student has given valid reasons for not supplying this earlier in the process
The committee can decide to:
- Dismiss the appeal and uphold the decision taken at Stage 2; reasons for reaching this decision will be clearly explained to the student.
- Uphold the appeal and decide upon an appropriate resolution. The Committee will explain how and when the University will implement any remedy.
The decision of the Committee will usually be provided to the student verbally at the close of the meeting by the Chair. However, if further investigation is needed the decision will be taken at a later date and the student will be informed, in writing, by the Clerk to the Committee.
In all cases the student will receive a formal outcome letter no later than 5 working days after the final decision has been made. In addition, when the Committee has reached a final decision the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer will issue a completion of procedures letter as required by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
The Complaints Committee's decision is final and not subject to review by any other university body. This does not affect a complainant's rights in law.