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Unfortunately, sometimes things happen while we’re at university which don’t go as they should; as students, you have the right to raise your concerns or experience with Strathclyde to seek an outcome to hopefully improve your situation, fix a problem, or ensure that something is changed for the future for other students. Using the Complaints Handling Procedure is the right way to go about doing this!

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What should I know about complaints?

There are two stages of complaint: Stage 1 (sometimes called Frontline Resolution) and Stage 2 (sometimes called Investigation). This generally allows for two opportunities for a complaint to be resolved which can be helpful if, after raising a complaint, you feel it hasn’t been dealt with correctly.

There are some things you can complain about (for example, failure of the University to provide a service you should have received, the quality of learning received, or how you have been treated by a member of staff) and some that you can’t (for example, academic decisions, concerns about adult or child safety, or issues that are currently being or have previously been heard by a court or tribunal). Where the Complaints Handling Procedure cannot be used to resolve an issue, it’s usually because there’s another policy or procedure better suited to handle the matter.

Stage 1 complaints are for issues which are straightforward and can easily be resolved without or with very little investigation needing to take place. The outcomes that can be issued at stage 1 are usually quick and easy measures to implement such as an apology, a reasonable explanation of why something has or hasn't happened, or a straightforward change to a procedure.

You can make a complaint of this kind to any member of staff at Strathclyde in person, by phone, or in writing, but it is normally best to approach the person or department most closely involved so that the matter can be resolved quickly. For example, if you are a student living in University accommodation and are unhappy about how long it’s taken for a repair in your flat to be resolved, you would be best to submit your complaint directly to the Student Accommodation team.

Stage 2 complaints look at complex matters requiring investigation or complaints which have been escalated after a Stage 1 outcome. Often these are complaints which require input from a number of parties, sometimes including witnesses. Although you can raise a Stage 2 complaint in any format, there is also a form that you can use that can be helpful in laying out the issue, what’s already been done, and what you would like to happen.

What is the process for complaints?

At Stage 1, once you’ve submitted your complaint then there’s nothing else you need to do! The person handling your complaint will follow up with you if they have any questions, but otherwise, you should receive a response and outcome in writing within 5 working days.

At Stage 2, once you submit your complaint the University will put someone in charge of investigating the matter. The investigator may ask you to come to a meeting with them to discuss things and make sure that they understand your perspective, what’s happened, and what you would like to happen next. They will also speak to other relevant staff and students involved in the matter if appropriate. Once they have completed their investigation they will get back to you with the outcome of their investigation within 20 working days (if this needs to be extended then you will be informed of any delays).

At both Stage 1 and 2, if you have any supporting evidence that demonstrates what’s happened (for example, emails or screenshots) then it’s really useful to submit these as it helps show the investigator more context. If there is sensitive information that is not relevant to the complaint, you can redact what is not required for the investigators to made a decision.

How can the Advice Hub help me with complaints?

The Advice Hub are experienced in supporting students with raising complaints and we can help you as you navigate what can sometimes be a difficult and stressful experience for some. We can help you to work through what’s happened, talking about it to understand the main, important points and how these can be conveyed accurate and clearly in your complaint. We can help you with compiling any evidence that you might wish to submit with your complaint and how to lay this out. We can also, in most cases, help you by attending investigation meetings with you for support and reading through outcomes if you want support in understanding a decision that’s been taken.

Useful resources

Complaints procedure

Dignity and Respect policy

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