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Student Complaints

Student Complaints Procedure

The Student Complaints Procedure (the Procedure) allows a student to express dissatisfaction about the standard of service provided by the University. A copy of the Procedure is available at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/so/2016/chapter02-section26.html (Statutes and Ordinances, 2016, p. 205).

Students cannot use this procedure for complaints that should be raised under other procedures, for example, about examination results or College matters.  If you are unsure about the procedure to use, contact OSCCA at studentcomplaints@admin.cam.ac.uk.

You can receive free independent advice regarding any University procedure from the Students' Unions' Advice Service at www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk.  You can also discuss any issues they are facing with their College Tutor or Graduate Tutor, as well as staff within the Faculty or Department. It is recommended that help is sought as early as possible.

All complaints are treated seriously and are handled sensitively.

Who can make a complaint?

Any matriculated student (resident member) can make a complaint regarding services provided by the University, educational or otherwise. A group of students can make a joint complaint where appropriate, with one member nominated as the point of contact and  responsible for communications with the rest of the group.

Anonymous complaints are accepted only in exceptional circumstances where there is compelling reason for your identity to remain undisclosed. There will be limits to any investigation resulting from an anonymous complaint.

What to do if you have a complaint

Where appropriate, you should attempt to raise your concerns with the person or body concerned. In some cases it may be difficult or inappropriate to raise the matter with an individual directly related to the complaint. Many departments will have a person nominated for this purpose, for instance a Student Adviser.  It is recommended that any complaint raised informally is done so in writing, either before or after any face to face discussion.

How to raise a formal complaint

If, following raising an informal complaint, you consider that a complaint is not resolved, or that appropriate action has not been taken, an application can be made to initiate the formal process. Any complaint made under the formal process should be submitted within three months of the informal process concluding or within three months of the matter first arising, where the complainant reasonably considers that informal resolution is inappropriate.

Any application should be made on the Student Complaint form, and sent to studentcomplaints@admin.cam.ac.uk within three months of the matter arising or within three months of the completion of the informal stage.  You should include all evidence that you wish to be considered alongside your complaint.

What happens once you make a formal complaint

Any complaint made will be acknowledged within ten working days; you will be informed of whether it is eligible to be investigated and, if so, a Reviewer will be appointed.  The Reviewer will have no material connection to you or the matter complained about.  The acknowledgment of your complaint will be copied to your College Tutor unless you state otherwise.  Your representations will be shared with any person or body about whom a complaint is made. They will be provided with an opportunity to make a response which will be provided to the Reviewer.

The appointed Reviewer will investigate your complaint and may invite you to attend a hearing. If a meeting takes place, you may choose to be accompanied by an adviser or friend. You may attend by video conference if travel to Cambridge is inconvenient. A meeting provides the opportunity for you, and any other parties, to speak about your complaint in person.

The Reviewer will make findings about the matters of complaint, on the basis of the evidence available. These findings will be included in a report, which will also include any recommendations regarding remedies or actions.  You will be provided with a copy of the report and all of the investigation materials considered by the Reviewer.  The outcome of your complaint will also be made available to any person or body who had been involved in the Procedure.

The University expects the formal stage of any complaint to be completed within a 90 day timeframe. The exact length of time taken will vary depending on the nature of the case.

What if you are unhappy with the final outcome?

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Student Complaints Procedure you may be able to apply for review of your case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), an external ombudsman.  More information will be given in the final decision letter you receive from the University.  You can find out more information about the OIA at http://www.oiahe.org.uk.