University Complaints

The University’s Student Complaint procedure allows students to submit complaints where they feel they have suffered a detriment, dissatisfaction, or disadvantage due to:

  • The alleged action(s) of a member of staff;
  • The alleged action(s) of a student;
  • Bullying, harassment, discrimination, or sexual violence from someone in the University community;
  • Irregularities in the delivery of a programme of study;
  • The quality of or access to supervision;
  • Issues with your placement or your placement year;
  • The quality of facilities, services, or learning resources.

Writing your Complaint

When writing your complaint, it is important to be clear and concise. Detail your complaint in chronological order and put each point you are making in a separate paragraph. If your complaint is complex and long it is also a good idea to number the paragraphs. While you may want to express how the University has made you feel in this instance, it is important not to lose the essence of your complaint in emotion.

Be specific about how the University has failed in its obligations to you; what has it done that it should not have, or what has it not done that it should have? You also need to explain how the University’s actions have caused you detriment, dissatisfaction, or disadvantage

The responsibilities of the University are contained in a number of documents, including but not limited to

It is also important to provide any evidence you have to support what you say.

When drafting your complaint we advise the following structure:

  • Outline what the issues/grievances are, when they started and whether they are ongoing;
  • Provide a clear and concise timeline of events;
  • Outline what your expectations and the responsibilities of the University were;
  • Explain how you believe the University has failed in those obligations;
  • Explain what the impact of this failure has been for you, emotionally, physically, mentally, financially and otherwise. How have you suffered detriment, dissatisfaction or disadvantage?
  • Explain what remedy you would like from the University to rectify the situation.

It is important to draft a formal complaint respectfully to safeguard your own interests. Even if the issues described have impacted profoundly on you, we strongly caution against being rude, angry, sarcastic, threatening or too emotional.

Your Adviser in Student Advice can review and support you through your complaint if you would like to send your form to us before you submit it.

Submitting your complaint

All complaints must be submitted using the University’s complaint form. You should explain your complaint clearly and fully but you should also be concise. You will need to attach all relevant evidence to support what you say. Relevant evidence may include:

University documentation e.g. student handbook, programme information;

  • Correspondence: note that emails and letters must show the date on which they were sent and details of the sender and recipient;
  • Medical evidence;
  • Witness statements which have been signed and dated;
  • Reports by a third party e.g. police report or letter from a counsellor;
  • Financial information;
  • Offer of a place to study at Cardiff University;
  • Any other information relevant to the issue being raised.

The University does not accept covert recordings as evidence to support your complaint.

The University usually expects you to submit your complaint to the Complaints Administrator for your School. If your complaint is about the Head of School or the Complaints Administrator for your School, you should submit to the Complaints Administrator for your College instead.

Group Complaints

The University will accept group complaints where students are complaining about the same issue at the same time and seeking the same outcome.

The group is required to appoint one spokesperson to represent the group as a whole and to liaise with the other students. The spokesperson will need to ensure on behalf of the group that all required forms are completed and submitted to the person managing the complaint prior to the University accepting the group complaint.

To complain as a group you will need to submit a joint complaint form and a group complaint members form.

The Complaint Procedure

Once you have submitted your complaint, the Complaints Administrator should contact you within 14 days of receiving it and may make 1 or more of the following actions:

  • Dismiss your complaint as not justified;
  • Seek further information;
  • Provide an explanation or further information in response to your complaint;
  • Identify a suggested solution;
  • Offer an apology;
  • Offer mediation and/or restorative approaches;
  • Refer for consideration under a different University procedure;
  • Refer to the Formal Investigation Stage (Stage 2).

When you receive the complaint outcome from the Administrator you must respond within 14 days to confirm if you are satisfied or not. Your complaint will be closed if you do not respond. If you are not satisfied with outcome, it will be escalated to stage 2 (Formal).

If escalated to stage 2, the Administrator will refer your complaint to Student Cases. Student Cases will assess your complaint within 7 days and may make 1 or more of the following actions:

  • Dismiss the complaint as not justified;
  • Offer mediation or restorative approach;
  • Request further information, clarification, or evidence;
  • Commence a formal investigation;
  • Refer complaint for investigation under the appropriate University Procedure, such as Staff Disciplinary Procedures, Student Conduct Procedures or Financial Regulations - Tuition Fee Policy.

If your complaint proceeds to a formal investigation, the Academic Registrar will refer it to an Investigating Officer and inform you of the referral. The Investigating Office will gather information and evidence and compile a formal complaint report. They may ask to meet with you and any other parties relevant to the complaint. They should be given all the information and evidence gathered at stage 1. The timescale for this stage varies depending on the complexity of your complaint and the number of people who need to be interviewed. The Investigating Officer should advise you of the likely timescales in your case. When the report is finished it will be sent, along with all evidence, to the Academic Registrar for consideration.

The Academic Registrar should inform the Head of Student Cases of the outcome of your complaint within 14 days of the investigation being completed. The Head of Student Cases will then send you a letter detailing the decision. The letter should include:

  • The decision;
  • A clear explanation of the decision (to the extent that the University can share this information) and, if appropriate, any remedy;
  • What support is available to you;
  • Information on how to take the complaint to the University Review Stage if you are dissatisfied with the decision.

When does the student complaint procedure not apply?

Academic judgement cannot be challenged under any procedure. Academic judgement is the decision made by academic staff on the quality of academic work or the criteria being applied to mark work (rather than the administrative marking process) as defined in the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) - The Good Practice Framework for handling complaints and academic appeals.

Review stage

If you remain dissatisfied with the formal complaint decision you may be able to request a review of the decision by a reviewer under the University Review Procedure.

Quick Guide

Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410