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Student Complaints

Support for you

The University and Colleges provide a range of support for students to access where they have experienced any form of harassment, bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct.  Whether or not you want to report, it is important that you have access to support in relation to your experience.  Speak to your College Tutor, Counsellor or Nurse, use the University's Counselling Service, the independent Students' Unions' Advice Service, or for sexual misconduct seek emotional and practical support from the Sexual Assault & Harassment Advisor.

Anonymous reporting

You can also anonymously report harassment or sexual misconduct to the University using the anonymous reporting tool.  This system is completely anonymous and enables the University to understand the prevalence and type of misconduct happening at the University.  However, its purpose is to collect statistical information and a report will not result in any action being taken in relation to the indidvidual incident.

Reporting another student to the University

The University does not permit students or staff to harass or behave in a way that behave in a way that is likely to violate a student's dignity, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for a student.  If you have experienced behaviour where this has happened then you can report it so that action can be taken.  Further information about the behaviour expected of students can be found in the Code of Conduct.

The University has two reporting options for reporting any form of harassment, bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct:

1. The Procedure for Student Harassment & Sexual Misconduct

Use this Procedure if you want action taken that limits your possible interaction with the other student: 

  • The Procedure will not make any findings or decisions about whether the harassment or sexual misconduct has taken place;
  • No record of your report will be held on your or the other student's file;
  • Following investigation, outcomes can include a conduct agreement, which can stop the student from contacting or approaching you; being able to access parts of the University that you frequently use; or a behaviour awareness assessment.

You can report a student using the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form.  You only need to include brief details of the harassment and/or sexual misconduct on the form.

Once you have submitted the form, you will be invited to a meeting to discuss the following steps:

  1. if the University believes that there is a significant risk to you or others in the University then precautionary action can be taken to prevent the student from contacting you or putting other people at risk while an investigation is ongoing; 
  2. the University will acknowledge your form within 7 days and confirm the next steps; 
  3. if your case is referred for investigation, an independent investigator who has no knowledge of anyone involved will offer to meet with you to discuss your form in more detail. You can bring a supporter with you to any meetings, such as your Tutor or the Sexual Assault and Harassment Adviser. Although it is not envisaged that it will be necessary for you to bring a legal advisor, you may do so if you wish;
  4. the investigator will invite the person against whom you have made your complaint to a separate meeting;
  5. following the investigation, the investigator will then write a report and recommend suggested actions that would limit the future interaction between you and the other student;
  6. you will be informed of the suggested actions. If both you and the other student agree to the actions this will be confirmed by letter.  If one of you does not agree to the suggested actions then with your agreement, the complaint can be considered using the University discipline procedure.

2. The University Disciplinary Procedure

If you wish your complaint to be investigated with findings made and the possibility of sanctions  being imposed, you can email a brief summary of your complaint to the University Advocate, Rosy Thornton at RT104@cam.ac.uk or complete the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form noting that you would like your complaint to be immediately referred to the Disciplinary Procedure.  If a case is referred to the University Discipline Procedure:

  • The University Advocate will acknowledge your complaint and offer to meet with you to discuss it in more detail.  She will investigate the complaint and decide whether there is enough evidence to consider ‘charging’ a student with a breach of the University regulations;

  • If there is not enough evidence to ‘charge, the Advocate can take no action or recommend that action is taken using the Procedure for Student Harassment & Sexual Misconduct;

  • If the student is ‘charged’ then there is likely to be a hearing and you may need to attend as a witness;

  • At the hearing a panel will decide whether the student has breached the University’s rules using the 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard of proof;

  • If the rules have been breached then the panel can impose sanctions, in the most serious cases this can include temporary or permanent exclusion from the University.

Report another student to a College

The procedure for complaining about a student to a College is likely to be published on the College website.  You can seek advice from your Tutor or Senior Tutor, or from the Tutorial Office about how to make a complaint.

The University and College will not both investigate the same matter under the harassment and sexual misconduct procedures.  For advice about which procedure to use, speak to your Tutor, the Sexual Assault & Harassment Advisor or contact the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals at OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Report a member of staff

A student will never be disadvantaged for raising a genuine complaint.  If you raise a complaint about a staff member then the University and/or College will ensure that you will not be assessed or taught in a small group with that member of staff.

If you wish to raise a complaint about a University staff member please complete the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form and email it to OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk.

You will then be invited to a meeting with a member of the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals to discuss the next steps.  Depending on the nature of the complaint it may be necessary for staff discipline processes to be used, this might limit some of the information that can be shared with you as a result of the staff member’s right to confidentiality, but information will be shared with you about things that affect you.  Throughout any investigation, you will continue to be kept informed by the University.

If you wish to raise a complaint about a staff member in a College contact your College Tutor, Senior Tutor or Graduate Tutor, or where the Senior Tutor is involved, the Master of the College. 

Reporting to the police

If you believe that a criminal offence has been committed then you can report the matter to the police.  If the incident has taken place in Cambridge then you can find out more information from the Cambridge Constabulary.  If you report a matter to the police, you can still report a matter to the University or College.  The University is able to take precautionary action whilst the police are conducting an investigation.  However, the University will wait until all police action and any subsequent criminal proceedings have completed before investigating or taking further action.  Unless the University considers there to be an immediate and significant threat to you or other members of the community, it will never inform the police about a matter you have reported without your agreement.

Q. Feedback on the harassment and sexual misconduct processes

If you have any feedback or questions regarding this webpage or any of the University's reporting procedures please contact oscca@admin.cam.ac.uk