Complaints - the three-stage process

There may come a time where you feel let down, like your expectations have not been met or there is something you are not entirely happy with. UCA has put together a three-stage complaints process, designed to address your issue in a structured and efficient way for everyone involved. They would always want to address your concerns as they arise, and in most cases, the complaint can be resolved informally. There will be no backlash on you as a student or on your studies if you decide to make a complaint. Everything is kept confidential unless you consent for us to share it with a person relevant to the case. With any complaints, you can visit the Students' Union office on campus or email, and we can explain how it works and provide support.

If you'd like to read about the complaints process in detail, you can check out UCA's complaints policy.

Stage 1: Local

This is the first attempt at resolving any complaint, in an informal or local way. This consists of a conversation taking place between yourself or your group, and the person you are complaining about whether that be staff or another student. This conversation can be set up by the Students' Union, and a member of the SU can be present to support, mediate and advocate for you if that is something you would like. This can also be coordinated by a Faculty Complaints Coordinator. Having vocalised your complaint in the meeting, the student or staff member of concern should then look into the problem and work with you to come up with a resolution.

Stage 2: The University

If the local attempt does not resolve your complaint and you are still feeling dissatisfied with the outcome, then you can move it to a stage 2 complaint at the university level. To do that, you must fill out a form and send it to the Quality Manager for appeals and complaints. You will need to outline the specific details of your complaint and explain why it was not resolved at stage 1. You can download the form fromMyUCA (‘Student Complaints and Appeals’ tab). As always, the Students' Union can be there to support you with this each step of the way. The Complaints Policy details the regulations and procedures of the University’s complaints process. The University always welcomes feedback on the policy itself, so if you feel there are areas that aren’t working as well as they could, please let the Students’ Union know so we can pass your comments on to the appropriate person.

Stage 3:The Appeal

On the occasion that your complaint has not been resolved at stage 1 or 2, then you can appeal by writing to the Vice Chancellor. The guidance says you should do this if there is new evidence, if the decision is unreasonable or if a procedural error has taken place. The university and Students' Union would always hope that your complaint can be resolved at stage 1 or 2, though this stage exists to ensure that each complaint is dealt with properly and to the student’s satisfaction.

Further Contacts

In a very small number of cases, in the event that the University is not able to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction at any of these stages, you may want to make a formal complaint to the Office of the Independant Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA is an independent body set up to review student complaints. Free to students, the OIA deals with individual complaints against Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales.

Complaints against other students

If another student has been treating you unfairly, or if you have a complaint to make against them, this is a two-stage process. Similarly to the university complaints procedure, we would always hope things can be resolved informally. The first stage is an informal mediation session between the students involved, and the Advice and Wellbeing Coordinator at the Students' Union. This is an attempt to talk through issues maturely, and come up with a way to resolve things. This might be making some house rules if it's a housemate, or setting some boundaries with each other.

If this is not successful, and the informal process does not resolve the issues, you can make a complaint against the student under the Student Code of Conduct. Please click here to read through the code of conduct, and find out if the person in question has violated the code. If you feel you have grounds to make a report, you can do so by contacting Gateway for your campus, or your tutor. You can put together a report and pass it over to them. The university will investigate this, and depending on what has happened, some possible outcomes are a written warning, a fine of up to a maximum of £500, restrictions on access (e.g. to Students' Union bar or to University managed residential accommodation) or requirement to pay a reasonable sum by way of compensation. This is not an exhaustive list of outcomes, you can read more about this here.

Complaints Best Practice

When making a complaint, there are some things that will help your case and things that will not. If you feel like you might need help with how to best go about making your complaint, you are more than welcome to come to the Students' Union for advice, by contacting or coming into the office. Please see our guidance on complaints best practice here:

  • Include as much information as possible, including specific times and dates (if you can), specific phrases used in the situation, or any other detailed specifics of the event.
  • Try to recall the order of events.
  • Try to be as specific as possible and see if you are able to identify each individual involved in the most detail you can.
  • Emotions may be running high based on the event, particularly going through the details and recalling it. Despite this, you best have a case if you recall it in a calm and mature manner.