Submitting a Stage Three complaint
The third stage of the Complaint Procedure involves a final consideration of the case by the Head of Complaints and Appeals. Stage Three should normally only take place within three months of the completion of Stage Two, specifically on the basis that there is new evidence for consideration, or that there has been a material irregularity in the investigation of the complaint.
Make a Stage Three complaint
Staff and students can submit a Stage Three complaint to the Head of Complaints and Appeals via the Complaints Submission site (only accessible for students and staff).
The Complaints Submission site can be used via a number of web browsers including Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox but it is not possible to use it via a mobile phone.
View guidance on how to submit a Stage Three complaint.
If you are unable to access the submission site please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an alternative method of submission.
If you are a student you may wish to contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre for support and guidance prior to submitting the complaint.
A Stage Three complaint should be submitted as soon as possible and within three months of the date of the Stage Two outcome letter - the greater the time delay, the more difficult it will be for the complaint to be thoroughly investigated.
The Head of Complaints and Appeals will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within three working days, giving an indication of the likely timescale before a full response is provided.
The Head of Complaints and Appeal will ensure that a timely response is sent, i.e. within four weeks of the Stage Three complaint being received, provided there are no undue delays (for example in obtaining further evidence from the complainant); on the very rare occasions where it is not possible to respond within this time limit, the Head of Complaints and Appeals will contact the complainant every four weeks to update on progress.
The Stage Three process
The Head of Complaints and Appeals will be expected to conduct an impartial review of the complaint, though this will not necessarily mean carrying out a full new investigation of the matters raised. S/he will review the case, the way in which it was investigated, and the response given, they will also take into account any new evidence or issues raised by the complainant.
The Head of Complaints and Appeals may telephone the complainant to discuss the complaint, and may arrange a meeting with the complainant and any other relevant persons. S/he may (or may not) seek further information from the complainant and/or those members of staff involved in the earlier investigation of the complaint. S/he may also consult a senior colleague responsible for the area under investigation.
The Head of Complaints and Appeals may decide:
a) That the investigation was properly carried out and the response given was appropriate and consistent with other responses, and no further action is required.
b) That there were shortcomings in the
investigation carried out and/or the response given and/or that new
evidence had been provided which warranted further investigation.
In such cases the Head of Complaints and Appeals may make a
decision regarding resolution of the complaint, or may refer the
complaint back to the Complaint Manager for further action.
The Head of Complaints and Appeals will ensure that a response is sent to the complainant in writing, copied to all other relevant parties. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Head of Complaints and Appeals may respond directly or ensure that a response is sent directly by an appropriate colleague.
The response will indicate the outcome and reasons for the outcome, and will confirm that internal procedures are complete; it will outline the right of the complainant to pursue the complaint further through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (in the case of complaints from current and former students) if s/he is not satisfied with the response. The Head of Complaints and Appeals will provide the complainant with a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter in line with OIA guidance.
Referral to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) has been set up to provide an independent scheme for the review of student complaints. A complaint by a current or former student may be taken to the OIA once the University’s internal complaints procedures have been exhausted and a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter has been issued.
You can find out more information about a Completion of Procedures Letter and when you should expect one on the Completion of Procedures Letters page of the OIA’s website.
After a complaint has been referred to the OIA, the OIA will write to the University asking for additional information. The Complaints and Appeals Team will respond to such enquiries, and will do so in accordance with OIA timeframes.
The OIA will investigate the complaint, and if the complaint is found to be justified may ultimately make recommendations to the University, which are actioned via relevant departments and reported on in an annual report.
Complainants who are not current or former students are not able to pursue a complaint through the OIA. Any complainant has the right to pursue legal action against the University. The Head of Complaints and Appeals will coordinate the University’s response to such action.
You can find more information about making a complaint to the OIA, what it can and can not look at and what it can do to put things right on the Student tab of the OIA’s website.
Referral to the Financial Ombudsman
A student who completes Stage three of the procedure following a complaint about debt advice or debt counselling provided by the University will be informed of their right to request a review of their case by the Financial Ombudsman Service should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of this internal Procedure.