Procedure for Dealing with Comments, Suggestions and Complaints from Students

Overview

The College welcomes comments and suggestions from students about the services it provides. Students wishing to make a suggestion or comment about the College's services, either academic or non-academic can do so informally at the point of service delivery, or by contacting the person in charge of the relevant area, or where it seems appropriate by raising the matter with their Graduate tutor or a member of the Deanery.

Occasionally however, students may wish to make a complaint about the services they receive, and this document sets out the procedures for making a complaint to the College. The College anticipates that complaints will normally be dealt with informally in the first instance.

Students with a complaint should bring it to the attention of the College using the procedure outlined here as soon as possible following the occurrence of a problem and ideally within one calendar month. Many complaints can be dealt with quickly and effectively in this manner, without recourse to formal procedure. The College's procedures have been developed with this in mind.

The College recognises that it has a duty to provide fair and objective procedures for examining and resolving complaints, and to ensure that its procedures are free from partiality arising from personal or institutional conflict of interest or other sources of bias. No student will be disadvantaged by having raised a complaint, but the College expects that students will not make frivolous, vexatious or malicious complaints. Students who are considering making a complaint may wish to seek help or advice from the persons listed in Annex 1.

A student may of course wish to complain about a matter that is not within the control of the College but within that of another institution, e.g. the University or another College. In this case the first thing to do will be to identify the appropriate point of contact within the Faculty, Department or College, and you may either contact that person directly or your Graduate Tutor or ask the Dean to take up the matter on your behalf. If it is unclear to you where responsibility for the matter lies you may seek advice from any of the persons listed in Annex 1.

Examination Appeals

Students should be aware that a separate procedure exists for appealing to the University in a case where a student feels that he or she has been disadvantaged or unfairly classified in a University examination. Further information may be obtained from the Deanery.

Harassment

Students with a complaint relating to harassment of any kind can find additional information in the College's policy on Harassment. This policy also contains a suggested process for dealing with such issues.

College Policy

Complaints on matters of College policy should be directed to the appropriate College committee (see Annex 2) through student representatives. These may be contacted through the Darwin College Students Association.

Confidentiality

Every attempt will be made to maintain the confidentiality of a complainant. However, where a complaint is of a personal nature against an individual, it is likely that the complainant's identity would have to be revealed at some stage in all but the most exceptional cases in order for there to be a fair investigation. The College will endeavor to inform an individual complainant of the extent to which her/his identity is likely to be revealed at each stage of the procedure.

To assist in the process of auditing the quality of its services and responsiveness to student comments, suggestions and complaints, the College will monitor complaints. The College undertakes to respect the confidentiality of complainants in this exercise.

Informal procedure

Stage one: if you experience a problem with any service provided by the College or anything else within the control of the College, you should first raise the matter with the person actually providing that service. If informal discussion does not resolve the situation satisfactorily, you should approach the person in charge of that college service. You may do this directly or through the Dean or Bursar. A prompt response can be expected.

Stage two: in cases where you feel that the nature of the complaint is too serious to be dealt with informally by yourself, or where, after the relevant Head of Department/Service has been approached, a satisfactory conclusion has not been reached, a complaint should be made in writing to the Dean, who will acknowledge receipt and ensure that the matter is looked into as soon as possible. An initial response to any complaint can be expected within 7 days of its receipt, and a considered response should be received within one month, with any subsequent remedy implemented with the minimum of delay.

Formal complaints procedure

It is hoped that very few complaints would remain unresolved after this stage. However should this be the case, you can request that the Dean refers the matter to the Master who will through the College Council undertake an independent assessment of the case and come to a conclusion on the matter. A full and considered response to the complaint should be completed within one month and any subsequent remedy implemented with the minimum of delay.

If you are required to attend in person as part of the investigation into a complaint, you are entitled to be accompanied by a member of the College or University: this could be any Fellow, a fellow student including one of the officers of the Darwin College Students Association, or an officer of the Graduate Union.

In some cases the first stage of the informal procedure set out above may already involve the Dean as a Head of Department. Should the complaint remain unresolved at the end of that stage, or in the event that a complaint is against the Dean, the complaint should be put in writing to the Master who will appoint another Senior Member of the College to act in the place of the Dean.

Office of the Independent Adjudicator

If all internal procedures for reaching a solution to a complaint, a mechanism for further review is available through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. Please see the Deanery for further details.

Annex 1: Persons from whom help may be sought

Help and advice may be sought from anyone; listed below are those contacts with a specific role to assist students.

  • The Dean of Darwin
  • The Bursar of Darwin
  • The Deputy Dean and Associate Dean of Darwin
  • Graduate Tutors
  • Darwin College Students. Association
  • Supervisor
  • Secretary of the Degree Committee or other Departmental Graduate Adviser
  • Board of Graduate Studies
  • Graduate Union

Annex 2: List of College Committees with Student Representatives

  • College Council
  • Finance Committee
  • Building and Grounds
  • Strategic Development Committee
  • Meals Committee
  • Library Committee
  • Education & Research Committee
  • Computer Committee
  • Security Committee
  • College Music Committee

 

 

 

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