13.6 Stage Two: Formal Complaint Stage

1. Where informal proceedings have been unsuccessful, or have been exhausted without appropriate resolution of the matter, the student may make a formal complaint.

2. Every formal complaint must be submitted on the Formal Complaints form normally within 10 working days of the informal procedure being completed. A formal complaint submitted in any other format will not be considered. Students not following the procedure will be directed to the right process and support available to them, where this is felt appropriate. Students will receive a written acknowledgement of the complaint, normally by e-mail, within 5 working days.

3. The complaint should clearly set out the following:

(i) the nature of the complaint: this should be brief and to the point, referring to any specific events;
(ii) evidence should be provided that the student has exhausted the informal stage of the complaints procedure by providing, for example, a copy of the relevant e-mail trail and/or a copy of the written outcome from the person who attempted to resolve the matter;
(iii) a statement as to why the student remains dissatisfied and the outcome they are seeking;
(iv) and, copies of any relevant documentary evidence and correspondence, which support the complaint, must be attached.

4. Upon receipt of a written formal complaint the Head/Director of Department must either arrange to interview all interested parties, or gather further evidence from relevant persons at his/her discretion. The Head/Director of Department must also arrange to meet the student if s/he has requested a meeting at the point of submitting the formal complaints form. Any individual invited to attend an interview or meeting will be entitled to be accompanied, for example, by a friend, colleague, Students’ or Trade Union representative.

5. Upon consulting all the relevant evidence, the Head/Director of Department must prepare a letter addressed to the complainant, detailing his/her investigations, which outlines the process followed, the information gathered, the conclusions drawn and any recommendations. (General advice can be sought from AQRO on issues relating to the procedures when considering the case, and any possible outcomes or redress, if felt necessary. The letter, together with copies of any written evidence which was used to form the judgement, must be submitted to the Academic Quality & Records Office (caostaff@aber.ac.uk), which is responsible for issuing the formal outcome to the student. Copies of the response will be circulated to all interested parties and a copy kept on file.

6. If at any point it is identified that the matter involves the Head/Director of Department in an actual or perceived conflict of interest (e.g. s/he could be the subject of the complaint or have competing interests or loyalties), or if s/he has had any direct involvement in the case, then the matter should be immediately referred to the Institute Director or other appropriate senior staff member as identified in Appendix 1. The Institute Director or equivalent will then proceed as outlined under paragraphs 4 and 5 of 13.6 Stage Two Formal Complaint upon receipt of the complaint and evidence submitted.

7. If the Institute Director or equivalent also feels that there is a conflict of interest or has had any direct involvement in the case, the case will be referred to another Institute Director or equivalent who will continue to proceed as outlined above under paragraphs 4 and 5 of Section 13.6..

8. Student complaints arising from industrial action by University staff will be considered by three members of a Standing Panel of Institute Directors (or their nominees) in the first instance. The Panel will operate on the basis of the procedure set out in Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Section 13.6 above. Upon a request for review of the Panel’s decision the Final Review Procedure under 13.7 will be followed.

9. Upon receipt of the fully completed complaint form and associated evidence, each formal complaint should be resolved within 6 working weeks. If it appears that a response will be delayed, students will be informed why this is, and will be kept informed of progress.