14.3 General Principles
1. Aberystwyth University seeks to minimise student complaints by ensuring that students have opportunities to participate in formal decision-making processes at all levels and by encouraging regular feedback through Department or Institute Staff/Student Consultative Committees. In the event that a student is dissatisfied with a service, the university seeks to resolve the matter at the earliest possible opportunity through informal resolution. If, however, it is necessary to pursue a complaint at a formal level, this procedure sets out how students may seek to have complaints addressed.
2. The procedure provides a mechanism for addressing complaints promptly, fairly and effectively. Further advice about this Procedure may be obtained from the Assistant Registrar, Academic Quality & Records Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or from a Student Adviser in the Students’ Union (email@example.com).
3. Complaints may be made by individual students or by a representative on behalf of a group of students. A student may appoint a representative to submit the complaint on their behalf. The student would normally be expected to provide written consent, by letter or via their University e-mail account, to authorise someone to act on his/her behalf (there would have to be a good, valid reason for this not to be possible).
4. Students will not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as the result of making a complaint in good faith. Only if a complaint is judged to have been made frivolously (ie. with no serious purpose or value), vexatiously (ie. they are distressing or annoying) or with malice (ie. the desire to inflict harm or suffering), could disciplinary issues arise in relation to the student. (See Aberystwyth University Disciplinary Procedures).
5. Students, and those against whom complaints are made, may expect complaints to be dealt with confidentially and that their privacy will be respected. However, any person who is the subject of a complaint will be advised, in order that he/she is given the opportunity to respond. It may also be necessary to disclose information to others in order to deal with the complaint and, in these circumstances, the parties concerned will be informed of such a disclosure.
6. Students can have confidence that they will be protected under this Procedure and so it should not be necessary to submit anonymous complaints. Upon receipt of an anonymous complaint, it may only be considered if there is a compelling case, with supporting evidence, for the matter to be investigated further. However, it should be noted that raising a concern anonymously could impede the investigation and communication of the outcome.
7. At any stage in the procedure, the parties involved may be accompanied, in a non-legal capacity, by a friend, representative of the Students’ Union or Trade Union recognised by the University, or any other member of the University community.
8. It is a student’s responsibility to ensure that his/her contact details are correct on the central records system. The University bears no responsibility for letters that do not reach a student due to his/her record not being kept up to date. The primary method of contact will be via e-mail, though letters of outcome at the Formal and Review stages of the procedure will also be forwarded to the address on the forms submitted.
9. For the purpose of this procedure, evidence submitted in support of a student’s complaint, must be independent or corroborative, and sufficient to establish any facts or issues raised. A personal statement of what a student believes to be true cannot constitute evidence. Examples of evidence can include documentary evidence such as e-mails and photographs, and can also include witness statements from University staff or students, support workers, and other professionals. The student is responsible for identifying and submitting appropriate evidence with the complaint. The University will not do this on the student’s behalf, unless someone employed by the University is acting as the student’s named representative. Any complaint made stating that further information can be sought on the student’s behalf will not be actioned.
10. Students have the right to receive reasons for decisions following consideration of a complaint at any stage of the procedure, and to be informed of any opportunity for further review.
11. If there are allegations of a criminal offence, Aberystwyth University may refer the matter to the police and suspend its own proceedings, at any stage of the procedure, until the outcome of any criminal proceeding is known.