Complaints can be made about any aspect of the University. You will usually be expected to provide evidence of your complaint, so ensure you keep all documents including emails or anything else you think may be relevant. A complaint must be initiated within three months of the issue arising. There are three stages to the Complaints process.
How can I start my Complaint?
There are three stages to the Complaints process. Students must go through the Stage 1 (Informal) of the complaints process.
What is a Stage One (Informal) Complaint?
A Stage One complaint is discussing the issues of complaint directly with the person delivering the service to see if they can be resolved informally. Following these discussions and you remain dissatisfied; the next stage is a Stage Two (Formal) Complaint.
What is a Stage Two (Formal) Complaint?
If you feel that you have raised the issue as a complaint and/or you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your Stage One (Informal) discussions, then you could submit a Stage Two (Formal) complaint to the Student Engagement Manager. You’ll need to submit your formal complaint no later than ten working days after receiving the Stage One outcome. If you are unsure about your deadline then we can help you work this out for you. The Student Complaints Manager may contact you for further information or evidence as part of the investigation of your complaint. At times a Stage Two (Formal) complaint may require a meeting. You have a right to be accompanied by a representative or a ‘friend’ to meetings that take place for the purpose of the regulations. A ‘Friend’ is defined as a member of the University community such as a fellow student, University staff or the SU. For further information, please see Appendix A via the link to the Handbook of Student Regulations. Please note the burden of proof lies with the complainant
What can I do if I do not feel comfortable speaking directly to the person as part of the Stage One (Informal) process?
Most complaints should be resolved informally and directly with the person concerns. At times a complaint can, be of a serious and sensitive nature e.g. allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination or other incidences of serious misconduct. This is what the University describe as a ‘Category B’ complaint. A Student Engagement Manager will provide advice about the complaint procedure and help determine whether the nature of the complaint is such that it may be ‘Category B’. If you have concerns speaking directly to be person concerned you could consult with the Student Engagement Manager in confidence.
What is a Student engagement manager and how do I contact them?
The University has a Student Engagement Manager who handles all Stage Two (Formal) complaints. They will carry out a formal investigation with the information they receive and supporting evidence.
For Academic based complaints, please contact email@example.com
For Student Accommodation based complaints, please contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
If your complaint is not faculty based or related to a service not listed above, please email email@example.com and we can send you the correct contact details.
Can I complain about another student?
Yes, a complaint of misconduct of another student or group of students will be treated as an allegation under the University’s Disciplinary and Fitness to Practise procedure. You would need to contact the Student Engagement Manager or the Student Appeals and Complaints Officer in the first instance.
How to prepare for a Stage Two (Formal) Complaint?
In a complaint, we would suggest that you;
• Consider and state clearly your outcome to the complaint. You must do this in order that any action taken is beneficial to you and resolves the matter
• Be explicit - if you don't explain clearly, it may not be possible to understand what has happened or what you want people to do about it.
• Consider if you can talk to those involved - this may make it easier to discuss possible outcomes and may be quicker to action.
• Think about the outcome you would like to achieve - in essence, what is that you want out of a complaint. This will help you when drafting the complaints form and putting together your case
When will I get a decision on my Stage Two (Formal) Complaint?
You should normally be notified in writing of a decision on your Stage Two (Formal) Complaint within 30 working days.
Are there are deadlines for submitting a complaint?
Yes, all complaints must be submitted within 3 months after the alleged event(s) concerned which gives rise to the complaint.
What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the Stage Two (Formal) outcome?
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your Stage Two Formal Complaint, you may want to consider submitting a Stage Three Request for Review. Please note if your complaint was related to another student, there is no Stage Three Request for Review stage, as the information would have been considered under Section 3 Disciplinary and Fitness to Practise procedures
What is a Stage Three (Request for Review)?
A Request for Review is the last internal stage at the University. Your Request for Review will be considered by the Student Appeals and Complaints Officer. This will need to be submitted within ten working days of receiving your Stage Two outcome.
You may request such a review on two grounds;
- Correct procedures were not followed in the consideration of your case at Stage 2 and this significantly affected the outcome
b.There is new information that could not be provided earlier, and this significantly affects the outcome
What do I need to do to submit a Stage Three (Request for Review)?
If one or more of the above grounds fits your case, you will need to;
1. Complete a Student Request for Review Form and a letter explaining in detail why you believe that one or more of these grounds applies to your case.
2. Submit your Student Request for Review Form and a letter with any supporting evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org
When will I get a decision on my Stage Three (Request for Review)?
You should normally be notified in writing of a decision on your review within 20 working days.
What can I do if my case does not fit any of the grounds for a Stage Three (Request for Review)?
You could take your case to the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator). You will need to email email@example.com to request a Completion of Procedures Letter
What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the Stage Three (Request for Review) outcome?
You could take your case to the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator). You will need a Completion of Procedures Letter, but you should receive this with your Stage Three Request for Review outcome.
What is the OIA?
If you are dissatisfied with your Stage Two Formal Complaint or Stage Three Request for Review outcome, then you may submit a complaint (this term is used by the OIA to refer to all types of cases) to the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator). This is an external option outside of the University. Please note the process would be that the OIA would investigate your case, if eligible under their rules, and look at whether the University has followed their own procedures correctly when coming to their decision. If they find that the university’s decision-making was in any way not consistent with their regulations and procedures, then the OIA would uphold your case and send it back to the University with some recommendations for looking at it again. If the OIA felt that the university has followed the correct policies and procedures, then the case would likely be rejected. http://oiahe.org.uk/making-a-complaint-to-the-oia/how-to-make-a-complaint.aspx
Please see our Q&A guidance on the OIA here
How can I complain about a service provided by the University that is external to the University?
At times it is part of your programme to attend a workshop or residential event that is arranged by the University, but this is an independent company and not part of the University. If you have a complaint about the service you received or regarding a staff member, you will need to use that company’s internal complaints processes. If you are on placement within the NHS, complaints are submitted via a ‘Raise a concern’
I am not a Northumbria student, how can I complain about a Northumbria Student?
If you are a member of the public and would to submit a complaint against a Northumbria student, for further information click here.
At the bottom of this page you will see a form to enable you to submit your complaint