The Complaints Conundrum

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"University not going quite as you expected it? Feel you are not getting the best out of your University Experience? Well here is a handy little how to guide on making a complaint from your Vice President Education, Steph.

The University recognises that there may be occasions when you have cause for complaint about the service you have received, when this happens, the Complaints Procedure is intended to provide an accessible, fair and straightforward system which ensures effective, prompt and appropriate response.


Is this issue complaint-worthy?

If you feel as though you haven’t received the support you should have done and it is affecting your experience, then you have every right to make a complaint to the university.

Any student who; “Directly seeks or receives a service from the university may lodge a complaint”. If you have already left the university and want to make a complaint, this should usually be done within 3 months of leaving the university.

Everyone has the right to an excellent standard of education and support at UCLan, if this is not the case then you have the right to speak up, otherwise the issue cannot be addressed.

How do I do it?


Step 1 – The informal complaint (Stage 1)

The first thing to do is try and address the issue in an informal way. This is by speaking with the member of staff responsible; so this could be the Head of the Service or your Course Lead. This should be done within 10 working days of the event and should be done in writing so that you have a ‘paper trail’. It is best to outline what the issue is, how it has affected you and what you believe would be appropriate in resolving the issue.

Give the member of staff the opportunity to respond to your issues – if you are not happy with the response provided then you can take this to a 2nd or 3rd stage complaint. At this point we would recommend seeking advice from the Students’ Union Advice and Representation Centre as it can sometimes become quite complicated. The Students’ Union Advice and Representation Centre is a free, independent and confidential service who are available via email on


Step 2 – The 2nd Stage Complaint

This stage requires a written complaint within 15 working days of the outcome of your 1st stage complaint, where possible on a complaint form. It is really important that you explain in detail what the complaint is and what has been done to resolve it (this is why keeping records of the informal stage is essential). You should also state why you are not happy with the response at stage one and what outcome you would like to achieve. You should try and get as much evidence to support the complaint and attach it to the form. This should then be submitted to the Complaints Liaison Officer based within the Student and Academic Support Service (SASS) who can be contacted on

Process after 2nd Stage Complaint Submission

The complaint will also be sent to the Dean of School/Head of Service who investigates the complaint and will contact you with their findings and conclusion. These will also be provided in a written confirmation. If the complaint involves the Head of School or they have already been involved at an earlier stage, this will be sent to the Head of another school to investigate.

If you are unhappy with the result of the 2nd stage appeal you can then progress to a stage 3.


Step 3 – The 3rd Stage Complaint

If you are not happy with the response at stage two and want to progress to 3rd stage. You would need to fill another complaint form which can be found here, this requires the same details as the 2nd stage form, but you must focus on why the outcome of the complaint meets one of the grounds detailed below and provide supporting evidence.

Grounds for 3rd Stage Complaint:

  • That new evidence or circumstances have become known which you could not have known at the time of the stage 2 complaint.
  • That the stage 2 investigation was not conducted fairly which affected the outcome.
  • That the outcome of stage 2 was unreasonable in light of new evidence provided.

This must be completed and submitted to the Complaints Liaison Officer within 15 working days of the 2nd stage formal outcome letter.

Process after 3rd Stage Complaint submitted and beyond

Once a 3rd stage complaint is received the Vice Chancellor will appoint a panel who will discuss in private the complaint to decide if:

  • Dismissed with the reasons given (you would also be told you have the right to take the complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator).
  • The student is given a hearing to present their case and will be provided with a response. If you are still unhappy with the outcome then you are able to submit your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

Any student wishing to take a complaint to the Office of Independent Adjudicator should consult the Advice and Representation Centre beforehand.



Will it be kept anonymous?

According to the University Regulations, ‘Confidentiality will be preserved during the investigation of a complaint in the interests of everyone concerned unless disclosure is necessary to progress the complaint. The University expects that all parties will respect the confidentiality of the process. Any individual about whom a complaint is made will have the right to be informed of the fact and nature of the complaint by their line manager.

Will it not make things between myself and the University difficult?

No, university staff are professionals and understand that circumstances like these will occasionally happen and provides a learning opportunity for all involved. It is vital for all involved that relationships are not affected by this process so that everyone can enjoy their time at the University. If this does concern you then feel free to talk to our advisors in the SU Advice and Representation Centre or the team at Complaints Liaison."


Siraj Darvesh
12:05pm on 21 Jan 21 Thank you, Steph, for this handy little guide. Bookmarked!
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