Procedure for making a Complaint
A record must be kept of all actions taken to resolve a complaint at each stage of the process and should be recorded on the Student Complaint Form in instances where the matter is being referred to the Registrar.
Stage 1: Direct Approach
If a student has a complaint and feels comfortable to approach the individual who is directly responsible for the situation, s/he may do so. If s/he is satisfied with the response, no further action will be taken.
Stage 2: Complaint to appropriate officer
If the student is not satisfied with the response or feels that s/he cannot approach the individual directly, s/he should raise his/her complaint with the Appropriate Officer concerned. If the student is satisfied with the response no further action will be taken.
Stage 3: Complaint to the Registrar and Council
If the student is not satisfied with the response by the appropriate Officer, s/he may submit the complaint to the Registrar who will investigate the matter. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome, s/he may appeal to the Council through the Registrar. The Council will deal with the complaint as it sees fit. The Council’s decision is final. The procedure for making a complaint is summarized in Appendix I: Procedures for making a Complaint: A Summary for Students. (page 165 of the 2008/09 Student Handbook)
Some Possible Outcomes of a Student Complaint
- Through the resolution process the student gains a better understanding of the situation so that his/her concerns are addressed.
- A mutually acceptable resolution is reached through conciliation or mediation.
- The student receives an apology, and/or the issue or behaviour that was the basis of his/her complaint is modified.
- In some cases, the complaint cannot be substantiated and no further action will result. In more serious cases, the University’s formal disciplinary processes will be invoked. Any disciplinary action will be undertaken in accordance with the processes prescribed in relevant industrial agreements (for staff) or Ordinance 1999/14 (for students). Formal warnings about inappropriate behaviour are a common outcome in the first instance, unless the behaviour is of a very serious nature (for example, involving repeated incidents of inappropriate behaviour or serious breaches of the University’s Regulations, Policies, etc.) The most serious breaches may result in expulsion (for students) or dismissal (for staff).
Notification of Outcome
Students will receive written advice of the outcome of their complaint. The outcome will be in keeping with the seriousness of the incident, which was the basis of the complaint, and outcomes will be applied consistently across the University.
All documentation relating to complaints will be kept strictly confidential and will not be accessible to anyone who is not directly involved in handling the complaint. Any material about the outcome of the complaint will be placed on the student's file.
Relationship to other UTech policies
This policy does not over-ride the established administrative or appeal procedures which would normally be followed in relation to academic matters, e.g. appeals against assessment grades, exclusion, etc.
Scope of the policy on handling student complaints
This policy applies to all aspects of a student’s educational experience at UTech. Students may make a complaint about any of the following:
- Other students of the University
- Academic, administrative staff and support staff (including continuing, contract, subcontract or casual, visiting appointments, guest lecturers)
- Visitors to the University
- People external to UTech that students interact with as part of an approved external programme of study such as work experience, industrial or clinical placements, continuing education or exchanges. Students may make a complaint about any matter, which relates to their programme of study at UTech, even if the incident, which is the basis of the complaint, did not occur on campus. The scope of this policy includes incidents arising from field trips, external placements, exchanges, UTech social functions, or distance education courses. Students are encouraged to raise their complaint in the first instance directly with the person concerned. This is appropriate in matters where the student feels comfortable with making a direct approach, or where the complaint does not relate to allegations of unlawful behaviour (e.g. assault, or harassment, corruption).
Where it is not appropriate for the student to raise the issue directly with the other person/s, they can make a complaint to the appropriate UTech officer:
- In a Faculty, the appropriate officer may be the Programme
- Director, Head of Department, Head of School, Faculty Administrator or Dean.
- If the complaint relates to an administrative unit, the Appropriate officer would normally be the Head of the Unit.
- No complaint will be pre-judged.
- The appropriate officer has a responsibility to respond to complaints within a reasonable timeframe.
- Complaints will be responded to as quickly as possible in the circumstances, and complainants will be advised of the proposed timeframe for resolution.
- Unless a complaint is unusually complex or involves allegations of misconduct, the University will achieve resolution of a complaint within 4 weeks of the complaint being lodged with the appropriate person in authority.
- If it is not possible to achieve resolution within this timeframe the complainant will be advised of this, and will be kept informed of the progress of the matter.
- Students should be aware that if the matter has been lodged initially at an inappropriate level of authority, it might take longer to respond to the complaint.
- The Staff will ensure that they have no conflict of interest or bias in relation to any party to the complaint, and that there is no perception by the parties that they have a conflict of interest or bias.
- If the person in authority does not believe they can handle the complaint in an impartial way, they will exclude themselves from the process, and refer the matter to thier supervisor.
- If the one of the parties to the complaint believes that the person in authority has a conflict of interest or bias, they should refer the matter to that person's supervisor.
- Confidentiality will be respected wherever possible within the constraints of the need to fully investigate the complaint, and matters pertaining to the complaint will need to fully investigate the complaint, and matters pertaining to the complaint will not be discussed beyond the parties to the complaint and staff involved in resolving the complaint.
- Resolution of the complaint will usually take into account the preferred process of resolution of the process. However, there may be instances where a complaint is of such a serious nature that formal action is required that is beyond the wishes of the complainant, e.g. when a complaint raises or relates to allegations of unlawful behaviour or corruption or when the University's duty of care to staff or students may be compromised if no action is taken.
Full details of the Student Complaint Policy may be obtained from Section C of the Student Handbook.