All information relating to complaints handling processes should be easy to locate, accessible and clear to all parties. It should be made available to prospective students before the contract is concluded and made available to students in a durable medium along with the remainder of the “material information”. Any other opportunities open to students for redress with third parties (such as the OIA) should also be made clear.
Universities should ensure that responsibility for complaints handling where there is partnership/collaboration/sponsor/award from another provider is made clear, available and easily accessible to all relevant students/prospective students.
The remit and time limits within complaints handling processes should be fair, and made clear and easily accessible to all students/prospective students. No barriers should be put in the way of students/prospective students exercising their rights under their contract with the University and no pressure should ever be brought to bear to dissuade a student from bringing a complaint.
Universities have a duty to ensure that all staff are trained in, and follow its complaints procedure. Considerable work has been undertaken over the last 2 years by colleagues in the Academic Registrar’s Office and Delivery Assurance team to enable appropriate front-line staff to be trained in complaints-handling. Colleagues who have yet to participate in training and/or briefing opportunities are invited to contact Stephanie Waldron via studentcomplaints at warwick dot ac dot uk.
CMA guidance describes ‘compliant’ complaints procedures as setting out clear and reasonable timescales for each stage of the process, feedback and requests for further information and evidence; providing an avenue for students to escalate the matter further if they remain unhappy with the outcome and ultimately to appeal, and following guidelines on complaints handling published by a third party complaint or redress scheme of which the HEI is a member, in this case the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). Warwick’s complaints framework meets these requirements and has recently been identified as an exemplar of good practice by the OIA.
Within the University’s complaints process, stage 1 complaints are the preserve of the department in which the source of the complaint takes place. All departments should forward to studentcomplaints at warwick dot ac dot uk letters to students recording the outcome of stage 1 complaints handled within academic departments in order that learning may take place and good practice may be shared amongst colleagues. It is also critical in terms of central monitoring and reporting of complaints that accurate information on levels of complaints by areas and theme is available in order for the University to take appropriate steps to address shortcomings.