14.1 Introduction

1. Aberystwyth University is committed to ensuring a high quality educational experience for all its students whether studying at Aberystwyth or with a partner institution, supported by appropriate academic, administrative and welfare support services and facilities. However, there may be occasions when students are dissatisfied with the teaching and learning facilities, or services, provided and may wish to submit a complaint. Aberystwyth University believes that students should have access to an effective system for handling complaints and that they should feel able to make a complaint, secure in the knowledge that it will be fairly investigated.

Note: This procedure refers to the process to be followed by students studying at Aberystwyth and studying for an Aberystwyth qualification at a partner institution. However, Aberystwyth students studying at a partner institution must also consult the relevant handbooks for more detailed arrangements and how the process at the partner institution feeds into the overall Student Complaints Procedure.

The definition of a complaint

2. For the purpose of this procedure, a student complaint is defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more students about a university’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the university’.

3. Complaints that can be considered under the Procedure include those relating to:

(i) aspects of a student’s learning and teaching experience

(ii) services and facilities offered by the University

(iii) services and facilities offered by a third party on behalf of the University that contributes to the student experience

(iv) industrial action by staff.

4. Complaints that cannot be considered under the procedure include those relating to:

(i) academic appeals submitted against the decision of an examination board

(ii) matters relating to admissions

(iii) complaints against the Students’ Union

(iv) complaints that question academic judgement

(v) requests to leave University accommodation and associated appeals

(vi) complaints arising from decisions made under University Fitness to Attend/Return to Studies Policy, Fitness to Practice, and University Disciplinary Regulations

(vii) complaints relating to private accommodation. You are required to raise any issues with your landlord. You may seek guidance from the Students’ Union, if necessary.

The consideration of a complaint

5. Complaints are considered at the following levels:

(i) Stage 1 (Early resolution)

(ii) Stage 2 (Formal level)

(iii) Stage 3 (Final Review)

6. Students should begin the process at Stage 1 by raising the issue with the individual(s) involved and to seek as early a resolution as possible.

7. If any complaints are received where it is felt the case could or should be handled under a different University procedure, the student will be notified in writing. It is the responsibility of the member of staff receiving the initial complaint to seek guidance from the Academic Registry via caostaff@aber.ac.uk as to whether the student has submitted their complaint under the correct procedure or not and to inform the student accordingly.

8. If (a) student(s) wish(es) to submit a compliant via email, they should make sure this is unambiguous: we recommend that they insert ‘Stage 1 Complaint’ in the email subject line, so staff are clear that a complaint is being raised, which will ensure it is dealt with according to procedure and in a timely manner.

9. If the complaint needs to be submitted under another process, the student must be informed and the complaint passed to the relevant persons/department within the University by the receiving member of staff. The case will be dealt with within the relevant timescale beginning from when it was received by the correct department.

10. It is the responsibility of the member of staff receiving the complaint to ensure it is considered promptly. See 14.3 below for further guidance.

11. Departments should note that a delay or lack of communication with the student regarding their complaint could result in the student escalating the complaint to Stage 2: Complaint level.