Student Complaints Procedure
This procedure should be followed if you want to make a complaint about such issues as teaching, supervision or a service provided by the School (eg the Library or Registry). There are other procedures if you want to complain about harassment or appeal an academic decision of some kind.
The procedure is made up of a series of stages, but the aim is to resolve your complaint at the earliest possible stage.
The full Student Complaints Procedure and its appendices are provided below. For students making a complaint, the procedure should tell you all you need to know, but further information can be found in Appendices 1 and 2 (and a flowchart of the Procedure can be found at Appendix 8). The remaining appendices contain supporting material to help those investigating complaints. A short summary of the procedure is provided below.
- Student Complaints Procedure
- Appendix 1: guiding principles underlying the Procedure
- Appendix 2: relationship with other procedures - is there a more appropriate route for your complaint?
- Appendix 3: requirements for Faculties, Directorates and Departments
- Appendix 4: guidance for those investigating complaints
- Appendix 5: guidance on resolving complaints for those investigating complaints
- Appendix 6: report template for those investigating complaints (an editable version can be obtained from the Information Compliance Manager)
- Appendix 7: Completion of Procedures letter template - to be issued to students once internal procedures have been exhausted (an editable version can be obtained from the Information Compliance Manager)
- Appendix 8: a flowchart illustrating the key stages in the Student Complaints Procedure
Summary of the procedure
Full instructions as to how to complain can be found in the Student Complaints Procedure. However, below is a summary of the way that complaints should be made by students and how they should be handled.
- The student should speak to the member(s) of staff most directly involved in the circumstances that have caused their dissatisfaction - they may not realise that there is a problem and may be able to resolve the situation easily.
- If this isn't practical or does not resolve matters to the student's satisfaction, they should make a complaint to the department or professional service concerned. Some departments and professional services publish instructions as to how to make comments or complaints regarding their service; if not, students should contact the Head of Department or Director of Professional Services concerned. This is the Department's or the Directorate's opportunity to put things right informally and students should receive a written response to their complaint within 2-4 weeks of raising it.
- If the student remains dissatisfied, they can make a formal complaint. This is done by writing to the Information Compliance Manager (ICM) providing the following: name, contact details, course, details of the complaint, details of what steps have already been taken to resolve the complaint, what outcome the student is looking for.
- The ICM will consider whether the complaint is valid (if not, they will provide advice to the student), and if so, will appoint an investigator. The investigator will be an academic or Professional Services Director from a Faculty or Directorate not previously involved in the complaint. They will have received training in how to conduct an investigation. Students should be aware that they will be expected to provide evidence to the investigator during their investigation.
- The investigator will report to the student and the ICM within 20 working days of the complaint being received by the ICM (where possible - complaints made outside of term-time, or during busy periods, may take longer to investigate). If they uphold the complaint, they will propose a resolution. If the student is content with the outcome of the report, the resolution will be implemented.
- If the student feels that the outcome of the investigation is unfair, or has failed to take important evidence into account, they can appeal the investigator's decision by writing to the ICM.
- The ICM will organise an appeal panel consisting of a senior member of SOAS staff nominated by the Director, a member of academic staff, and a Student Union representative. The student will be given the opportunity to make their case to the panel.
- The ICM will inform the student of the panel's decision. The ICM will also issue a Completion of Procedures letter informing the student that the internal procedures of SOAS have been exhausted, and of their right to appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIAHE).
- If the student remains dissatisfied, they should write to the OIAHE, which provides an independent ombudsman service for students.
Page last updated 30 July 2013.