Making a complaint
We want you to have a pleasant time studying with us, but we understand there might be occasions where you’re not as satisfied as you could be. That’s what our complaints procedures are for – if you have any issues, we’ll do our best to resolve and learn from them.
- Step 1: Resolve your complaint or appeal directly
- Step 2: Follow a formal complaints procedure
- Step 3: Learn what happens during the procedure
- Step 4: If you’re dissatisfied with the final decision
Have you spoken to the person, team or department you want to complain about?
We find many complaints are resolved simply by raising them politely with the people concerned. All our complaints and appeals procedures ask that you try this first where it’s appropriate.
If you can’t resolve your complaint directly, or you feel you can’t approach the person or team that you think caused your complaint, see Step 2a below .
Some departments have their own processes for you to give feedback, including complaints – use them if you can. Current department-specific procedures include:
- Careers Service
- Library – you can raise concerns using their feedback form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Student Advice and Wellbeing
- Students' Union
For other services and departments who don’t have their own procedure for making complaints, speak to the person best placed to resolve your complaint (like your tutor, supervisor, or course convenor).
Try to avoid raising your complaint at a more senior level as who you speak to at this stage will affect who can hear your complaint if you do decide to pursue it further.
We want to make sure your complaint or appeal is looked at in the right way, so we have a range of procedures.
Choose the relevant appeal or complaint.
An examination or assessment result
Ie taught module results, degree awards, research degree viva outcome.
A progression decision
Ie progress from one year of a degree programme to the next, upgrade from MPhil to PhD.
Withdrawal from a programme of study
Ie enrolment on the programme of study is terminated due to not meeting progression requirements, failure to comply with regulations and/or procedures, assessment failure etc.
For all of the above, use the academic appeals procedures.
Harassment or equality issues
This could include sexual, racial, or other kinds of harassment in the form of assault, threatening behaviour, or abusive remarks. Please see the Dignity at SOAS Policy.
The Students’ Union
The service provided by, or the behaviour of a SOAS contractor (for example catering or halls of residence)
If you’re unable to first deal with the complaint directly, write to the professional services director in charge of that service (for example, the Director of Estates and Facilities for catering).
The conduct of another student
Follow the School’s Student Disciplinary Procedure.
Any other issues
If you’re dissatisfied with teaching or supervision, or unhappy about the service provided by a professional services department or faculty office, please follow the Student Complaints Procedure.
It depends on which procedure you follow, but generally speaking there will be a series of stages. The aim is to resolve your complaint or appeal at the earliest possible stage to everybody’s satisfaction.
Usually there’s an initial investigation by someone who hasn’t been involved with your complaint before. They will decide if your complaint is justified and if it is, they will recommend a resolution. If you disagree with the recommendations, you can ask for a review of the investigator’s decision by a more senior person or an appeal panel (depending on which procedure you follow and what stage you’re at).
Once you get to the end of the complaints procedure, you will get a Completion of Procedures letter (see template example) where we set out our final position on your complaint.
If you’re unhappy with our final decision at the end of the procedure, you can appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), an independent ombudsman for student complaints. You must do this within 12 months of receiving the Completion of Procedures letter.