Complaints Procedure

The College follows complaint procedures that are similar to the University’s complaints procedures – see HERE

The following procedures apply only to college-related complaints raised in the College itself. Because St Chad’s is an independent foundation, not maintained by the University, some of the internal committee structures and reporting lines are necessarily different from those in other colleges. In addition, the College has tried to make a clearer distinction between what we term ‘official’ complaints and the day-to-day expression of criticism or dissatisfaction that are often more pastoral or that are easily dealt with by directing a student to the right person, to a student representative or to a College committee. Thus we make a distinction between a ‘complaint’ and an ‘official complaint’.

Explanatory notes are in blue italics.

Complaint procedures

If the situation is more an expression of dissatisfaction than a complaint that needs managing, and/or if the student wishes some ‘informal’ advice, then they are urged to speak to their tutor or to one of the College Officers. The tutor or Officer will offer advice about how best to address the issue or situation. The Tutor or Officer will also be in a position to offer advice about whether and how to lodge an official complaint.

Often in pastoral conversations, critical comments about individuals or services may be made (and be encouraged to be made). While the College would expect these comments to be discussed and followed up, the matter will often not be referred on to others as a complaint (due to the nature of pastoral conversations) except by the student himself or herself. For instance, routine criticisms or complaints about residence halls or meals ought to be made initially through the student domestic reps, who will raise the matter either with the Bursar or via the College Committee. If these routes do not work, then an official complaint may be made.

Official Complaints: Procedures for Stage 1

Stage 1: Informal Stage

(a) As a first step, students who wish to complain officially ought initially to discuss the matter with those directly responsible, using the informal stage of these procedures. If students are unhappy to approach that person, then a tutor or JCR/MCR Exec member may be approached. However, if there is an appropriate consultative committee in place to consider issues that fall within the areas of the student’s official complaint, then students are again encouraged to raise their complaint via their representative on that Committee instead of using the complaints procedures in the first instance.

The key thing about using the official complaints procedure is that the process will be tracked and an outcome will be achieved, though not always one that necessarily satisfies everyone concerned.

(b) Wherever possible, official student complaints should be resolved at this local level, without the need to resort to more formal proceedings. Staff who have contact with students should familiarise themselves with both the College’s Complaint Procedures and the University Student Complaints Procedures to ensure that they are confident in how to implement effective solutions at a local level.

(c) If the complaint is not resolved by discussing the matter with those directly responsible and/or if the matter is not likely to be resolved via a reference to a College committee, then students should discuss the problem with a Tutor or a College Officer still with a view to resolving the issues at this informal stage. If, however, the student concerned still believes that the matter has not been or cannot be resolved to his/her satisfaction, he or she should then raise the matter with the Principal. If, exceptionally, the complaint directly concerns the Head of House, students should follow the Procedures for Stage 2.

(d) If, after such discussions, students believe that the assistance received is not up to the standard that could reasonably be expected from the College, they may wish to take the matter further by following the formal stages of the Complaints Procedure set out below.

(e) Students should follow the Complaints procedure sequentially and avoid referring the problem directly to a senior member of staff without having raised the problem at local level first.

College Procedures for Stages 2 and 3

Stage 2: Formal Stage

When a student believes that the matter has not been resolved to his/her satisfaction he/she may make an official formal written complaint to the Vice-Principal or Principal in the first instance. If the complaint concerns the Principal, students should follow stage 3.

At this stage, written records of the complaint and actions with regard to the complaint ought to be recorded.

The Principal or Vice-Principal will either investigate the matter him or herself or will formally appoint another officer of appropriate standing and background who has no prior involvement in the matter to undertake the investigation on his or her behalf.

The Officer appointed to undertake the investigation will do so with a view to finding a solution acceptable to all parties if possible. He or she may consult other persons on a need-to-know basis as appropriate.

All College Officers investigating Stage 2 complaints will ensure that a written report outlining the action proposed is normally produced within four weeks of the receipt of the formal complaint. The complainant will be advised by letter if the process needs more time (say to gather more evidence or to discover an appropriate solution). If the action proposed was not taken by the time the initial written report was sent, then a follow-up letter will be produced once the action has been initiated.

A copy of the report(s)/letter(s) to the complainant will be appended to the next Audit Committee meeting. Whatever actions were decided will be circulated as appropriate.

Stage 3: Formal Appeal

When a student believes that the matter has not been resolved to his/her satisfaction and she or he has already made a formal official complaint to the Principal, or if the complaint concerns the Principal, students should make a formal written appeal to the Vice-Chair of the Governing Body (or, if the post is vacant, to another Governor nominated by the Chair).

The Vice-Chair will consider the request and take whatever action he/she deems appropriate. The student will be advised by letter of the outcome of his or her complaint, normally within four weeks.

Internal procedures are exhausted when the student is advised on the outcome of his or her complaint at Stage 3.

Students may complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIAHE) within 3 months of the issue of a completion of procedures letter by the College.  A guideline for complaints to the OIAHE will be made available to unsuccessful complainants at Stage 3.

Reviewed: 29 May 2014