Concerns & Complaints Procedure

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your dealings with Brookes, or you feel that you have been unfairly treated by the way you have been dealt with by the university or staff  you have the option of making a complaint.

The University produces detailed guidance on the complaints procedure, its scope and exclusions which you can find here

You can also look at the university regulations governing complaints under section C which you will find here.

Please click on 'Show more' next to the relevant section to learn more about any part of making a complaint.  

 

Is my problem a complaint?

 

It may be worth discussing your complaint or grievance with an adviser at the Brookes Union Advice Service before you begin.

We are independent of the University and our service is completely confidential, so you can discuss your issue and get some advice on your options for dealing with it before you approach the University. We can help you to decide whether:

 

  • it falls within the scope of the complaints procedure;
  • the university is the responsible party;
  • your grievance is strong enough to warrant a complaint;
  • to raise the issue informally or go straight to a formal complaint. 

 

We can also help you to put your complaint together and accompany you to any meetings you may have in connection with your complaint if you wish (although we cannot speak on your behalf).

 

I want to go ahead what are my options?

You have two options (and you can use both if one fails). You can talk informally to the relevant person or persons you believe to be responsible for your complaint or you can make a formal complaint.

 

 

RAISING THE MATTER INFORMALLY

Depending on the seriousness of the issue, and whether you think the matter might be resolved relatively easily and quickly, you could consider discussing the matter informally as an initial step.

 
What do I do?  

All you need to do is to talk to, call or email the appropriate person, setting out your issue and making suggestions for resolution. If you are not sure who to contact you can ask the Student Disputes Officer (SDO) for guidance. You can contact the SDO either by emailing studentdisputes@brookes.ac.uk, by calling 01865 484203 or by going to the Student Central help desk and asking to speak to the Student Disputes Officer.

 
 
Advantages of raising the matter informally:  

•no requirement to complete a form;

•potential to get the matter resolved quickly;

• gives you the opportunity to have a discussion with the relevant member of staff.

 

 

 

RAISING A COMPLAINT:

If you feel the matter is too serious to be dealt with informally or you have done this and you are not satisfied with the outcome then you can raise a complaint.

 
Find out more about raising a complaint  

To raise a complaint you must complete a Complaints and Appeals form. You will find a link to a downloadable copy of the form on the panel on the right hand side of the page here. You submit it to the Student Disputes Officer either at the Student Central counter or by email to studentdisputes@brookes.ac.uk. If you don’t use the form the matter will not be treated as a formal complaint.

 
 
Time limit  

Be aware that there is a time limit on raising a complaint with the University. It is important that you make your complaint within the time limit. If you miss it, your complaint will not be considered unless you have a very good reason for the delay.

The time limits are:

Within two months of the incident complained of, or within two months of the last incident in a series of linked incidents;

Within two months of the last response you received from the University after raising a concern;

 

 

 

Completing the form

There is a single Complaints and Appeals form so you will need to tick the appropriate box to show that you wish to make a complaint. If you wish to make an appeal on the same issue you will need to tick both boxes, and the SDO will decide which route your issue should follow, and may decide to allow a simultaneous appeal and complaint.

 
Summary of complaint  

In this box you should give as concise an account of the complaint as you can. It is worth spending some time in setting out the relevant and important points so that your central issue doesn’t get lost. Try to set out the complaint chronologically as this will help you to ensure that you include relevant dates, and describe actions you have taken to try to resolve the matter.

We would be happy to look at a draft of your summary and give you feedback.

 
 
Your evidence  

In this section you should list all of the evidence you have in support of your complaint. This may be copies of emails, letters or other documents. If you are claiming financial compensation you will need to include receipts or estimates for losses.

 
 
Your desired outcome  

It is important to set out exactly what you would like to happen as a result of your complaint. This may be an apology, an opportunity to retake a module or re-sit an exam. You may want the University to change the way they do something. You may want to ask for financial compensation, and if you do you will need to set out your losses.

If you do not have any evidence you should state the reason for this. It may be that the matter does not require evidence or that you have not been able to get access to evidence that might support your complaint. If you think the University may have evidence to support your complaint you should state this and ask the University to supply it.

 

 

 

Processing your complaint

 
Find out more about processing your complaint.  

Once your complaint has been received the SDO will assess it to decide whether it is admissible. If it is deemed inadmissible, for example because it has been received after the time limit or it is considered to have no merit, the SDO will write to you giving reasons for the decision.

If you are not satisfied that the rejection is fair you have the right to seek a review of this decision. You do this by making a written request to the Academic Registrar setting out why you believe the decision to be wrong. You must make this request within 10 working days of the decision letter.

The Academic Registrar will review the decision, and either allow your complaint to be passed to Level 1 or uphold the decision of the SDO and issue you with a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter. If this happens you cannot take your complaint any further within the University. You have the right to ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), to review the decision. For more information please see the section on the OIA towards the end of this guide.

If your complaint is deemed to be admissible it will be assessed at Level 1 of the complaints process. This means that your complaint will be considered by a senior member of staff from your Faculty within 20 working days.

The SDO will inform you of the outcome of the consideration which will be to deem it either justified or not justified.

If your complaint is rejected and you are not satisfied with the reasons for the rejection you have the right make a request that it be considered at Level 2 of the complaints process. You must make a written request to the SDO within 10 working days of the not justified decision, stating that you want your complaint to be considered at Level 2, and you must set out the reasons for your request.

The SDO will consider the request and may:

· escalate to level 2 immediately; · grant the level 1 responder up to 10 additional working days to respond, if there is a good reason for the delay; · seek further clarification from you

The SDO may also reject your request if you have failed to comply with the 10 working days time limit and cannot justify this. If this happens you will be issued with a Completion of Procedures (CoP) letter. Once you are issued with a CoP letter you will have no further opportunity to pursue the matter with the University. You do have the option at this stage to consider taking your complaint to the office of the Independent adjudicator (OIA). You can find out more about the OIA at the bottom of this section.

If your complaint is escalated to Level 2 it will be considered by two senior members of staff from another faculty within 20 working days. The SDO will inform you of the outcome. As with Level 1 your complaint will be deemed either justified or not justified. If it is deemed not justified a CoP letter will be issued.

 

 

 

Taking the matter further:

 
Find out more about taking the matter further  

If you are still not satisfied that the University has dealt with your complaint fairly and properly you may wish to consider seeking a review of your complaint by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. The OIA is the independent, Government appointed body, tasked with administering a student complaints scheme. The OIA will not re-investigate your complaint but will look at whether the University applied its regulations and procedures correctly and properly and will consider whether the decision was fair and reasonable in the circumstances. If the OIA finds that your complaint is partly or wholly justified it can make recommendations to the University.

To make a complaint to the OIA you must normally have received a COP letter and you must make your complaint within twelve months of the date of that letter.

You can find out more about the OIA here. The Union Advice Service can offer you further advice on taking a complaint to the OIA should you need it.

 

 

 

Frequently asked questions

 
I want to complain about a member of staff but I am worried that my work will be marked more harshly as a result.  

This should never happen. You should feel confident that a complaint will have no effect on your academic work. All complaints are kept confidential to those directly involved so if you have made a complaint about one member of staff, no other member of staff will know anything about your complaint. If you feel that your relationship with a member of staff you have raised a complaint about is affected you may seek an alternative arrangement. You can seek advice from your Student Support Coordinator.

 
 
I want to complain about a fellow student, can I use the Complaints Procedure to do this?  

No you cannot, unless the student is also a Brookes employee. If you have a complaint against another student you should use the Student Conduct Regulations and Procedure, if appropriate.

 
 
I want to complain about an incident that occurred when I was not an enrolled or registered student at Brookes, can I use this complaints procedure?  

If the incident you wish to complain about occurred while you were a registered or enrolled student at Brookes then yes you can. If the incident occurred before your enrolment or registration you should complain to the Head of Admissions. If the incident occurred after your enrolment or registration you should complain to the line manager of the member of staff you feel is responsible for the incident you wish to complain about.

 
 
It is more than 20 working days since my complaint was passed for consideration at level 1 and I have heard nothing. What can I do?  

You can contact the SDO to ask that your complaint is considered at level 2.

 
 
I feel bullied and harassed by a member of staff, should I use the complaints procedure?  

No in this case you should refer to the Dignity and Respect at Work policy which you will find here

 
 
I am a student at a Collaborative Partner College, can I use this complaints procedure?  

If you are a student at a partner college you must raise your complaint with that institution but once you have exhausted the complaints procedure at the partner college, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome you may write to the Student Disputes Officer at Brookes to ask that your complaint be considered at Level 2 of the Brookes Complaints procedure.

If the Student Disputes Officer accepts your complaint it will be dealt with at level 2 of the Brookes procedure.

 
 
I would like to make an appeal and raise a complaint about the same matter. Can I do this?  

You can tick both boxes on the form and set out your appeal and complaint separately. The SDO will decide whether it can go down both routes.

 

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