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Information for Current Students

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.

Here are the steps you could take:

For staff members carrying out investigations

See our supplementary guidance on how to carry out investigations for complaints and appeals.

Step 1: Resolve your complaint or appeal directly

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:

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.

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Step 2a. Follow a formal complaints procedure

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.

Appeal against:
An academic decision

There’s a separate procedure for taught students (undergraduate and postgraduate), and postgraduate research students.

A decision not to allow you to transfer from an MPhil research degree to a PhD

Follow the Code of Practice for Research Degrees.

A decision to terminate your registration on a research degree

Follow the Code of Practice for Research Degrees.

A decision to fail your MPhil or PhD

Follow the Appeals Procedure for Research Degrees.

Complain about:

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

See the Students' Union's abuse and harassment section.

The service provided by, or the behaviour of a SOAS contraction (for example, catering or halls of residence)

If you’re unable to first deal with the complain 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

For example, 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 Complaint Procedure.

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Step 2b. Learn what happens during these procedures

It depends on which procedure you follow, but generally speaking, there’ll 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 in your complaint before. They’ll decide if your complaint is justified, and if it is, they’ll 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’ll get a Completion of Procedures letter (here's a template example), where we set out our final position on your complaint.

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Step 3. If you’re dissatisfied with the final decision

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 students. You must do this within three months of receiving the Completion of Procedures letter. 

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