Complaints Procedure

The College is committed to high quality educational and other provision for students, and
encourages students to say where there is cause for concern in individual or general matters.  It undertakes to take such representation seriously.

The College aims to handle complaints in a way which is sympathetic, fair and efficient, which encourages informal conciliation, facilitates early resolution, maintains individual privacy and confidentiality, and permits useful feedback.

This procedure is for all College members in statu pupillari (undergraduates and graduates).
A complaint will normally be about a problem encountered by a student in connection with educational or other activities or services provided by the College. It will not necessarily be against anybody, whether a person or an institution, although some complaints may be against individuals or the College. Complaints principally arising about matters covered by other specific procedures (such as the University complaints procedure, University procedures for the review of graduate or undergraduate examination results, the College’s disciplinary procedure as laid down in the Staff Handbook, the College’s student disciplinary procedure, or the JCR constitution) should be raised under those procedures.



Because the purpose of the complaints procedure is, whenever possible, to resolve problems, a complaint should be made promptly, and an attempt made to deal with it quickly and informally. The procedure, therefore, has three stages, and the College hopes that most problems will be solved in the first two stages of advice and informal process.
The three stages are:


Discussion and Advice
Informal Process
Formal Process
Each stage is described in a later section.
The student is entitled to fair and independent consideration of a complaint. The rights of the student and the rights of any person complained against are both important and must be kept in balance. Every effort will be made to ensure that both are treated appropriately, with fairness and dignity. Complaints will not be treated as though lodged against the College unless that is stated to be the case. There will be a separation between the provision of advice and the provision for dealing with, or adjudicating, on a complaint. The student should not suffer any retaliation for making a complaint in good faith and a student who believes that he or she has suffered a reprisal should raise the matter. If a complaint which is not upheld is found to have been made maliciously, the student may be subject to disciplinary procedure.
The student may withdraw a complaint, or stop the process, at any time in Stage 1 or 2 and, in Stage 3, with the consent of the Chair of the panel (identified below). Personal privacy will be respected. Confidential information will not be communicated without the consent of the student, other than in exceptional circumstances (for example in reporting an alleged criminal offence to the Police). The student has a free choice of adviser and of representative, who need not be the same person. Normally this would be a College Tutor, but students are free to go to another member of College if they prefer.
Complaints will be dealt with promptly to ensure that delay does not hinder fair resolution.  Minor complaints will normally be resolved at an early stage.
A complaint can only be brought by the student affected, although several affected students may act together. A particular complaint cannot normally be pursued under both University and College procedures.
If a complaint is upheld there should be a satisfactory remedy or outcome, which may include:
• a full explanation
• an apology (which is not an admission of liability)
• the matter put right, if possible
• if appropriate, some kind of financial recompense (for example if the student had paid
for something which he or she did not receive)
• if appropriate, the case may be remitted to the relevant authority to take disciplinary
action. The appropriate authority is the Dean of College or College Disciplinary
Tribunal (students), the Bursarial Office (staff) or the Master (Fellows).
Written records will be kept of complaints using a procedure compliant with data protection requirements. The student will have access to the documents submitted about his or her case, and those taking part in the complaint will be informed that this is so. Otherwise, the records will be confidential. An annual report will be made to the Executive Body by the Senior Tutor or the Tutor for Advanced Students; if references are made to individual cases they will be made anonymously.
1.1 It is very important to get early advice about problems. Often, this can resolve the
matter quickly and informally.
1.2 Normally, a student would seek the advice of a College officer such as a Tutor,
Graduate Advisor or Director of Studies. Other possibilities include:
• other relevant members of the academic staff of the College
• the Chaplain
• officers of the JCR or MCR
• other relevant bodies such as the University Counselling Service or the Disability
Resource Centre
• officers of CUSU, or officers of the Graduate Union.
1.3 The student can expect to be given advice on how to proceed and on an appropriate
course of action, advice about what would constitute an appropriate remedy, and an
opportunity to consider whether there is indeed a complaint to be addressed. The
student will then be in a position to decide whether to proceed further, and how.
2.1 It is in the interest of the students that a complaint to be dealt with informally should
be raised at the appropriate level as soon as possible. If there has been a delay, the
student should explain the reason. The student should, if possible, record the
complaint in writing (the advice about a written statement in Stage 3 may be helpful).
2.2 The student should raise the matter with an appropriate person: Bursarial Office
(complaint against a member of staff); Senior Tutor (complaint against an
undergraduate); Tutor for Advanced Students (complaint against a graduate); the
Master (complaint against a Fellow). If a complaint is made against the Master, the
Senior Fellow will take his role.
2.3 If possible, a suitable solution to the problem will be agreed and implemented.
2.4 If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of such an informal process, he or she
may consider whether to raise the matter formally through Stage 3.
3.1 Students must exhaust informal routes before making a formal complaint, or give a
good reason for not doing so. A good reason might be that the problem is particularly
serious, or that when it was raised informally there was a refusal to deal with it. Informal
processes are suitable for dealing with many problems, but if a complaint includes very
serious allegations, and especially where a person complained against must have an
opportunity to give his or her side of the matter, it may be necessary to refer straight to
Stage 3. If informal routes seem not to have been exhausted, a formal complaint may be
referred to informal resolution.
3.2 A student wishing to make a formal complaint must do so in writing. The written
statement initiates the formal process and must include a description of what has been
alleged to have happened to give rise to the complaint including dates, times, any
other details, and the detriment or disadvantage which the student has suffered as a
result. The statement should include:

  • the name of the person or College department against whom/which the complaint is made (but a complaint need not necessarily be against a person or department)
  • the name of any witnesses who will corroborate the complaint, including a written statement from each to say that they have given their consent
  • documentary evidence, together with a list of contents and numbered pages
  • if they wish, an outline of what action a student would like to be taken, or what remedy he or she is seeking
  • if desired, the name of the person who has agreed to accompany, support, or represent the student at any meeting or hearing.

It would be sensible for the student to discuss the written statement of the complaint
with an appropriate advisor (for example those listed in paragraph 1.2). The complaint should be addressed to the Master.
3.3 The complaint will be referred to a Panel for consideration. The Panel will consist of
three members:


  • a Chair, who will be a senior member of the College
  • at least one other senior member of the College
  • one student member of the College.

3.4 The members of the Panel for a particular complaint will be appointed by the Master
(or an officer designated by him). Either complainant or complainee will have an
opportunity to object, for good cause, to a person designated, and the Chair of the
Panel will rule on such objection (or the Master will rule if the objection is to the
Chair). Either complainant or complainee will have an opportunity to request, for
good cause, that the student member be replaced by a third senior member, and the
Chair of the Panel will rule on such objection. There will normally be at least one
member of each gender on the Panel.
3.5 Normally, the Chair of the Panel will arrange for the Panel to hear representations
about the complaint. The Panel shall determine its own procedure. At such a
hearing the student will present his or her case, and any person or department
complained against will have a right to reply. Witnesses or others making statements
will be heard at the discretion of the Panel. The student (and any person or institution
concerned) may speak in person or be represented. Notice of the hearing shall be
given to the student, and any person to whom notice of a complaint has been given.
At the end of the hearing the Panel shall consider their decision in private, and shall
notify it in writing as soon as possible, with reasons.
3.6 The Panel may make recommendations as to the remedies, if any, to be adopted.
3.7 The Panel shall have the power to terminate the proceedings, to determine that a
complaint is vexatious or frivolous, or to refer the complaint for informal resolution as in
Stage 2. The panel will give reasons for its decision.
3.8 No documents should be taken into consideration which are not available to the
student, the Panel, and any other person or institution concerned. The Chair of the Panel
may request the disclosure of documents requested by the student or any person or
department concerned. The Chair must seek to ensure that appropriate safeguards are
made for confidentiality of disclosed documents.
3.9 The Master shall nominate an administrative officer to act as secretary of the Panel.
Either complainant or complainee will have an opportunity to object, for good cause, to a
person designated, and the Chair of the Panel will rule on such objection. The officer shall be present throughout the whole proceedings of the Panel, and shall draft the reasoned
decision of the Panel and a report on the proceedings, for use in connection with
monitoring and the preparation of the annual  report on complaints.
4 Exceptional circumstances apart, a complaint shall be made under Stage 2 or Stage
3 within three months of the occurrence of the matter complained about.
5 If any party wishes to lodge an Appeal they should state the reason in writing to the
Master who will refer the matter to the GB. No person involved in the formal procedure
should sit on the GB as it discusses the issue.
If you have been unable to resolve a complaint to your satisfaction via the College’s own
internal complaints procedures, you have a right to apply to the Office of the Independent
Adjudicator for Higher Education. This official body will conduct an independent review
without any charge of the Student. For details of the OIA Student Complaints Scheme,
including the remit of the scheme and the time limits for application, please see the website:

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