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Stage 2: Formal Departmental Investigation and Resolution

To be completed typically within 30 University working days

Stage 2 complaints will already have been considered at the Frontline / Local Resolution Stage 1 unless there are exceptional circumstances or interpersonal matters under the Dignity at Warwick Policy which could benefit from informal resolution strategies. The purpose of conducting an investigation is to establish all of the facts relevant to the points made in the complaint and to provide a full, objective and proportionate response.

A Stage 1 complaint will be moved to the formal Stage 2 when:

Frontline / Local Resolution has been attempted but the complainant remains dissatisfied following receipt of the Stage 1 outcome and takes action to escalate;The problems raised by the complainant are complex and require detailed investigation and the implications are significant.

If a student remains dissatisfied after Stage 1 Frontline / Local Resolution and wishes to escalate the complaint within the University they must within 10 University working days complete and submit a Formal Stage 2 Departmental Resolution form available at:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/feedbackcomplaints/students/complaints/stage2/

The complainant will be expected to provide full details of the complaint and the resolution they are seeking, including all relevant supporting evidence and documentation. The complainant is advised to seek advice and assistance prior to completing the Stage 2 complaint form from at least one of the following: Wellbeing Support Services (including the Dean of Students' Office), the Students’ Union Advice Centre, their Personal Tutor or Supervisor.

The Central Student Complaints Resolution Team will allocate the Stage 2 complaint to the appropriate area of the University where a different member of staff will typically be responsible for investigating the Stage 2 complaint. If a complaint which escalates to Stage 2 relates to more than one department or academic unit the Central Student Complaints Resolution Team will confer with the area(s) named in the complaint with a decision taken on who will take the lead in the investigation and resolution. The student will be informed who is investigating each key element of their complaint and a co-ordinated response typically will be provided. As set out above, should a complaint include serious allegations of misconduct against another individual or individuals, it may be that the relevant staff or student disciplinary process may need to be used for investigation or determination of the outcome in conjunction with this Procedure.

The Head of Department or Service Area is ultimately accountable for the outcome issued in Stage 2, however, where the Head of Department or Service Area has provided a Stage 1 outcome, or where otherwise appropriate, another senior individual in the department or the relevant Chair of Faculty may be appointed to oversee the investigation and write to the complainant with the Stage 2 outcome. It is good practice that a different member of staff communicates the complaint outcome at Stage 2 than as at Stage 1. Typically, in consultation with the complainant if deemed appropriate, the investigator may consider a number of key questions:

  • What specifically is the complaint? What are the key elements?
  • Why was Frontline / Local Resolution at Stage 1 unsuccessful? Was any potential resolution offered?
  • What does the complainant seek to achieve by escalating the complaint to Stage 2?
  • Do the complainant’s expectations appear to be reasonable and achievable?
  • Should the Central Complaints Resolution Team be asked if facilitated discussion might be appropriate in this case?

If the complainant’s expectations appear to exceed what the University may reasonably provide, or are not within the University’s power to provide, the complainant should be advised of this as soon as possible in order to manage their expectations about possible outcomes.

Complaints submitted to Stage 2 Formal Departmental Investigation and Resolution using the Stage 2 online form will be acknowledged within 2 University working days. A full response will be provided to the complainant typically no later than 30 University working days from the time that the complaint, and all associated documentation, was received for investigation.

Not all investigations undertaken during Stage 2 Formal Departmental Investigation and Resolution will be able to meet the indicative timescales. For example, some Stage 2 complaints may be so complex that they will require careful consideration and detailed investigation beyond the standard timescale or there may be an agreement with the complainant that an investigatory meeting should be postponed. Where there are clear and justifiable reasons for extending the timescale the Central Student Complaints Resolution Team will exercise judgement and will set time limits on extending the investigation, notifying the complainant in writing giving an explanation for the need for the extension. The complainant will be kept updated on the projected timescales and given a revised deadline for bringing the formal Stage 2 to a conclusion and issuing the written Stage 2 outcome. If the complainant feels the outcome is being unreasonably delayed, they can write to the Academic Registrar as to why they feel this is the case. The Academic Registrar will consider whether and how the case may be expedited or, exceptionally, recommend escalation to Stage 3 of the Procedure.

The outcome of the Formal Departmental Investigation and Resolution Stage 2 will be communicated to the complainant in writing giving a clear explanation for the determination made on each key element of the complaint and any resolution to the complaint agreed. The complainant should be advised of their right to escalate the Stage 2 complaint to Stage 3 Review, the grounds on which this is permissible, the time limit for escalation, the appropriate procedure and the availability of support (reference to online information provided for students relating to the Procedure is sufficient). Once the outcome has been issued, a record will be kept by the University detailing the decision reached. If the complainant does not escalate the complaint to Stage 3 within 10 University working days, the complaint will then be closed.

Go to Section 8 Stage 3 of the Procedure.