Student Complaints Procedure
This procedure should be followed if you want to make a complaint about a service provided by the School (eg the Library or Registry) or issues such as teaching or supervision. There are other procedures that you should follow if you want to complain about harassment or appeal an academic decision.
The procedure is made up of a series of stages, both informal and formal, and the aim is to resolve your complaint at the earliest possible stage.
Summary of the procedure
Full instructions on how to complain can be found in the Student Complaints Procedure.
1. 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.
2. 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 on 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 10 working days of raising it.
3. If the student remains dissatisfied, they can make a formal complaint. This is done by completing the Student Complaints Form and sending it to the Interim Student Complaints Manager at email@example.com.
4. The Interim Student Complaints Manager 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 manager (or above) from a Department 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.
5. The investigator will report to the student and the Interim Student Complaints Manager within 40 calendar days of the complaint being received by the Interim Student Complaints Manager (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.
6. If the student feels that the outcome of the investigation is manifestly unreasonable or has failed to take important evidence into account, they can appeal the investigator's decision by writing to the Interim Student Complaints Manager.
7. If the appeal is valid, the Interim Student Complaints Manager will organise an appeal panel consisting of a senior member of SOAS, a member of academic staff, and a Student Union representative. The student will be given the opportunity to make their case to the panel at a hearing.
8. The ICM will inform the student of the panel's decision. The Interim Student Complaints Manager 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 (OIA).
9. If the student remains dissatisfied, they should write to the OIA, which provides an independent ombudsman service for students.
Full Student Complaints Procedure and Appendices
The full Student Complaints Procedure and its appendices are provided below.
In addition to the main procedure itself, students considering making a complaint should read Appendix 1 to understand the principles behind the procedure; Appendix 2 to check whether this is the correct procedure for your complaint; and Appendix 8 for an overview of the entire process and the timescales involved.
- Student Complaints Procedure 2016/17 (pdf; 143kb)
- Appendix 1: Guiding Principles (pdf; 133kb)
- Appendix 2: Relationship with other procedures (pdf; 117kb) (find the correct procedure for your complaint)
- Appendix 3: Requirements for Departments and Directorates (pdf; 113kb)
- Appendix 4: Guidance for investigators (pdf; 125kb)
- Appendix 5: Resolutions guidance for investigators and panel members (pdf; 109kb)
- Appendix 6: Investigation report template (msword; 44kb) (for investigators' use)
- Appendix 7: Completion of Procedures letter template (pdf; 19kb) (issued to students once internal procedures have been exhausted)
- Appendix 8: Flowchart summarising the Student Complaints Procedure (pdf; 20kb)
- Student Complaints Form (Word) (msword; 41kb)
Student Complaints Form
When you are ready to submit your complaint please do so on the Student Complaints Form, available in the Downloads section of this page. This form is available in both Word and PDF versions and can be filled in electronically (the PDF version should be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader to enable the form-filling functionality). Completed forms should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.