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Student Complaints Procedure

De Montfort University’s Student Complaints Procedure has been developed to reflect the framework of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), the Higher Education Ombudsman. It is based on "The Good Practice Framework: handling student complaints and academic appeals" and complements the advice and guidance on concerns, complaints and appeals published by the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. 

Where do I go if I need help before I submit a complaint? 

The university is committed to providing an excellent educational experience for students, we know that sometimes you will need to raise a concern or get further support.  There are many ways for you to seek help in resolving problems: 

The university encourages students to identify, raise and resolve any concerns or problems themselves, as above, in the first instance and at the earliest opportunity. If this is unsuccessful, or concerns are substantial, students can then engage with the University Student Complaints Procedure. 

The aims of the Student Complaints Procedure are:

  • to resolve complaints in a timely, effective and fair manner;  
  • to resolve complaints in the area in which they arise; and 
  • to improve service delivery and the student experience 

What can be dealt with under the Student Complaints Procedure 

A complaint can be submitted about: 

  • the quality and standard of service provided by the university, including teaching and learning provision;  
  • failure to provide a service as advertised or reasonably expected;  
  • unsuitable facilities or learning resources;  
  • failure of the university to follow an appropriate administrative or academic process 

What will not be dealt with under the Student Complaints Procedure 

The university has other processes and procedures for dealing with the following matters: 

Process

The Complaint Procedure is intended to provide a streamlined process with a focus on Early Resolution. Students are expected to complete each stage in the process before escalating to the next, if you have grounds.  

Focus on Early Resolution 

In the first instance you should submit an Early Resolution complaint form and your case will be managed locally by the faculty or most appropriate university department.  This form will be submitted automatically on completion and sent to the appropriate person.

The Early Resolution form will be sent to an Early Resolution Officer who will decide how best to try and reach an outcome for your complaint.  This may involve asking you for more information, having a conversation with you to understand the specific issues, investigating the issues raised with other staff or recommending mediation between all parties. 

Once your complaint has been investigated you will receive an outcome in writing. There will be times when a mutually agreeable resolution cannot be reached.  If this is the case you will be given an explanation as to why a complaint outcome is as it is. 

Possible outcomes of a complaint: 

  • Upheld: An outcome or remedy will be offered to you. 
  • Dismissed: There is no evidence of wrongdoing and your complaint cannot be taken any further. 
  • Partially upheld: If your complaint concerns multiple elements, some of these may be upheld and other dismissed. 

In all cases the Early Resolution Officer, Academic Support Officer or the University Complaints Committee will explain the reason for the outcome to you.   

Formal Complaint 

You may escalate your complaint to the Formal Complaint stage if you have grounds to do so, as below:

  • The complaint procedure was not followed correctly.  
  • New information that was not available earlier in the process, can now be provided by the student, with good reason as to why it could not be produced earlier. 
  • Or the decision was wholly unreasonable based on the evidence provided.

You may only submit a Formal Complaint form if the Early Resolution stage has been completed.

You must complete the Formal Complaint form and your case will be investigated by an independent member of staff in the Academic Support Office.   This form will be submitted automatically on completion.

Review  

Once you have received an outcome at the Formal Complaint stage, you may request a Review of your complaint if you have grounds to do so as below:

  • The complaint procedure was not followed correctly.  
  • New information that was not available earlier in the process, can now be provided by the student, with good reason as to why it could not be produced earlier. 

You must complete the Review Request form and your complaint will be reviewed by the Chair of the University Complaints Committee who may recommend that the case be heard at a full panel hearing. 

Submitting a complaint form 

The university encourages students to engage with our services directly themselves. This helps us to hear your voice and to try and find an appropriate solution as speedily as possible. However, we do recognise that some students may need support accessing and completing the complaint forms.  Students are able to ask the DSU advice and wellbeing team for independent support on how to complete the form. The university does not accept complaints made by third parties on behalf of students unless in exceptional circumstances and evidence is provided.  Please see our policy on communicating with third parties for further information about this. 

The Early Resolution Complaint form can only be submitted via your student email account.  If you are unable to access your internal email account because you are excluded for non payment of fees or other reasons, or you are unable to log in due to technical difficulties, please use this alternative form.  This form must ONLY be used by students who cannot access the internal system.  Third parties cannot use this form.

Complaints about student or staff behaviour/misconduct – reports

Complaints about student or staff behaviour/misconduct will be referred to as a report.  The university has separate procedures for dealing with reports of student or staff misconduct. Student misconduct is considered under the University Disciplinary Code and is investigated by the University Investigations Team based in Security.  Reports about staff misconduct are managed through the Dignity and Respect Policy by HR. All reports can be made directly to security@dmu.ac.uk, who will manage and forward the casework appropriately.

If you wish to report a crime, need urgent assistance or feel at risk of immediate harm please call 999. 

If you wish to make a disclosure and not a report please see below. 

Please be assured that by making a report you will not be disadvantaged by the university. 

What is the difference between a report and a disclosure? 

A report is an official statement about an event that will require further investigation. 

A disclosure is the opportunity to share your experience and receive support, it does not mean you have to make a report. 

You may prefer to disclose your experience to the No Space For Hate Project (hate and harassment) nsfh@dmu.ac.uk or the Mandala Project (sexual or domestic violence or abuse) themandalaproject@dmu.ac.uk. You do not have to make a report to receive support. 

More information about these projects can be found here: No Space for Hate and here: The Mandala Project. 

You may also disclose incidences of hate and harassment anonymously using our anonymous reporting form. Please note that anonymous reports cannot be investigated.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Have I got a complaint?

    It is important to distinguish between a problem or a concern, and a complaint. If you have an issue that needs resolving swiftly or you need an answer to a question, the best course of action is to talk to a member of staff in that related area or your personal tutor. This will be the quickest and most effective way to resolve your concern.

    If this doesn’t work satisfactorily or your concern is substantial, then the complaint procedure is the route you should take. A complaint may take longer to investigate but should still be dealt with promptly.

    A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or the standard of service we have provided.

  2. What can I complain about?

    • Failure or refusal to provide a service;
    • Inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service
    • The quality of facilities or learning resources
    • Failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  3. What can’t I complain about?

    • Action or lack of action of a third party trading independently from the university.
    • Student behaviour; please report this to security@dmu.ac.uk.
    • Staff behaviour; please report this to security@dmu.ac.uk
    • A complaint that has already been completed under the Student Complaints Procedure.
    • A disagreement with a university decision where there is already a procedure for challenging that decision by appeal. e.g. academic appeal outcome, deferral refusal.
  4. Who can complain?

    Any current registered student or alumni who submits their complaint within three months of the problem becoming apparent.
  5. How long do I have to make a complaint?

    All complaints must be raised within three months of the problem becoming apparent.

    Any complaint submitted outside of the permitted timeframe will be dismissed as out of time.

  6. Who should I complain to?

    If you have tried to sort out your concern yourself first and still need help, you should submit an Early Resolution form and your case will be dealt with by your faculty or other university department. The form is submitted automatically on completion.
  7. How long does it take for my complaint to be dealt with?

    The university aims to deal with Early Resolution complaints within 15 university working days of the date of receipt. Sometimes we will not be able to meet this timeframe but we will communicate any delays to you.

    See more information about the timeframe of the whole complaint procedure.

  8. What outcome can I expect?

    Once your complaint has been investigated you will receive a written outcome. This could be any of the following:

    • Upheld: The university will offer you one or more of the following:
      • An apology
      • A practical remedy
      • An explanation
      • Other, as appropriate
    • Dismissed: There is no evidence of wrongdoing and your complaint cannot be taken any further.
    • Partially upheld: If your complaint concerns multiple elements, some of these may be upheld and other dismissed.

    In all cases the Early Resolution Officer, Academic Support Officer or the University Complaints Committee will explain the reason for the outcome to you.

  9. What if I’m not happy with the outcome?

    We recognise there will be times when you will not be happy with the outcome you have received. The university will explain to you why a particular outcome has been reached. You may escalate your complaint only on the following grounds:

    • The complaint procedure was not followed correctly.
    • New information that was not available earlier in the process, can now be provided by the student, with good reason as to why it could not be produced earlier.
    • The decision was wholly unreasonable based on the evidence provided.
  10. Can an external party look at my complaint?

    If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint but do not have grounds to escalate it, you may be able to apply for a review of your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) providing that the case you take to the OIA is eligible under its rules. Should you decide to make a complaint to the OIA, you must request a Completion of Procedures letter from the university and you have one month from the date of your complaint outcome letter to do this. You should request the Completion of Procedures letter from the Academic Support Office by email on acasupportoffice@dmu.ac.uk.

    The OIA is a review body. It will consider how the university has dealt with your case and its final decision. The focus of the review will be what happened before the Completion of Procedures Letter was issued. The OIA Scheme is not a further appeal to university. The OIA provides an independent review Scheme and its role is principally to consider whether the university has correctly applied its regulations and followed its procedures, and whether the outcome is reasonable in the circumstances. 

  11. Is there help available to submit a complaint?

    The university expects students to engage with the complaints process themselves. If you need support please contact the Students’ Union advice team on dsuadvice@dmu.ac.uk. The university does not accept complaints from third parties unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so.

    Reasonable adjustments will be made for students with disabilities who require support. Please contact the academicsupportoffice@dmu.ac.uk if you require the form in a different format.

  12. Are there deadlines?

    We expect students to escalate their complaint within 10 university working days of the outcome of the previous stage. However we are aware that some students may not be able to meet this deadline. If you are unable to meet the deadline, you must provide evidence that demonstrates why you have not been able to.