Student Complaints and Grievances - Section contents
As a student, you may find that you need help to resolve problems that arise during your studies. These may be minor issues with administrative matters, your subjects and classes, or the conduct of another student or staff member. Whatever the issue, the student complaints and grievances policy and procedure are designed to ensure that the problem is solved in a timely and effective manner.
The University considers addressing concerns and complaints by students to be an important part of the University's commitment to continuous review and improvement. No student should fear a negative outcome or retribution from raising concerns or making a complaint provided that they are not vexatious or made maliciously.
Grounds for a complaint or grievance
The grounds for a complaint or grievance include, but are not limited to the following:
- You were affected by a decision that was made without sufficient consideration of facts, evidence or circumstances.
- You were affected by a failure to adhere to appropriate or relevant published University policies and procedures.
- A penalty, where applied to you, was unduly harsh.
- You were affected by improper, irregular or negligent conduct by a person involved.
- You were affected by unfair treatment, prejudice or bias.
What is the difference between a complaint and a grievance?
Complaint: a problem or concern raised by a student who considers they have been wronged because of an action, decision or omission within the control or responsibility of the University.
Grievance: a matter to be investigated according to formal grievance processes. This includes complaints that are not able to be resolved through informal processes or mediation, and matters relating to allegations of misconduct where disciplinary action against a student or staff member may be an outcome of the investigation.
The submission of a grievance will result in the appointment of an investigator to examine the issue according to the process established by the University Student Complaints and Grievances Policy and Student Complaints and Grievances Procedure.
The first steps
Before you submit a formal complaint or grievance, you should attempt to resolve the issue informally by following steps 1 and 2 below. Step 3 below describes the formal process where the unresolved matter from step 1 and 2 is escalated to the Academic Registrar.
If you are experiencing any kind of administrative difficulties, you should:
- Attempt to resolve the matter informally by raising the issue with staff in your Student Centre.
- If the Student Centre staff are unable to help resolve your issue, you should contact the Manager of the Student Centre who will investigate the issue.
- If the Manager of the Student Centre is unable to resolve the issue, then you may escalate your complaint or grievance to the Academic Registrar by submitting a formal complaint or grievance online.
- Attempt to resolve the matter informally by raising the issue with your lecturer or tutor.
- If the issue cannot be resolved, you may escalate the matter to the Head of Department or Head of School. Contact details can be found on the relevant department or school pages on the faculty website.
- If the Head is unable to resolve the problem, the matter should be taken up with the Associate Dean or Deputy Dean.
- If the Associate Dean or Deputy Dean are unable to resolve the issue, then you may escalate your complaint or grievance to the Academic Registrar by submitting a formal complaint or grievance online.
Other types of complaints
There are some categories of complaint that are handled using specific policies and procedures that fall outside the standard Complaints and Grievances process. If your complaint relates to any of the following, please read the accompanying policy and procedure pages for details about how to proceed:
- Discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying by staff - Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Procedure
- Unsatisfactory Progress - Academic Performance Policy and Academic Progress Review Procedure
- Selection Appeals - Queries regarding course selection decisions are managed by the University's Office of Admissions through the Future Students website.
The formal process: escalating a complaint or grievance to the Academic Registrar
The formal process requires you to outline the history of the complaint or grievance and your attempts to resolve it. You are strongly encouraged to contact an independent student advocate for advice and guidance. The formal complaint and grievance procedure can be complex and a student advocate will be able to confidentially discuss your situation, advise you on the likelihood of the success of any application, and can help you prepare the application itself.
If you submit a complaint or grievance through the formal process, you will need to provide:
- Your name, email address and contact number
- Your student number (or indicate if you are a prospective or former student)
- An indication of whether or not you have received independent advice
- The category of service that you are submitting a complaint against
- The service point, or individual that you are submitting a complaint about
You will also be asked to supply the following detail. You will be given the option of uploading your responses in a document, or entering your responses into corresponding form fields.
- The history of the complaint and your attempts to resolve it
- The outcome you are seeking
- The reason for the desired outcome
Before seeking a review of a result you must make an appointment to speak to your subject coordinator about your result. Subject coordinator details are listed in the subject entry of the University Handbook. You should also consider the advice given in our Failing a subject FAQ. Some Departments, Schools and Faculties have official script viewing sessions for each subject.