skip to content

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

Where a student's studies have been impacted by the behaviour intermission or an exam allowance may be appropriate, you will not need to provide a full account of the behaviour if you have already reported it to the University, College or police.  If you are an undergraduate student your College Tutor can help apply for these measures.  If you are a postgraduate student you can apply directly - more information is available on this exam allowances webpage or intermission webpage.

Anonymous reporting

You can also anonymously report any type of bullying, 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 individual incident.

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 can limit any interaction between you and the student or staff member you have reported whilst any criminal investigation is ongoing, otherwise the University is likely to wait until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings before 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 explicit consent.

How to report another student to the University

If you have been subjected to physical misconduct, abusive behaviour or sexual misconduct by another student, you can report it so that action can be taken.  Further information about the behaviour expected of students can be found in the University's Rules of Behaviour.

The University has two reporting options for students reporting student misconduct:

1. The Procedure for Student Harassment & Sexual Misconduct

This reporting process limits your possible interaction with the other student(s): 

  • The Procedure will not make any findings or decisions about whether the behaviour you describe has taken place;
  • No record of your report will be held on your or the other student's record;
  • Outcomes of the process can include a conduct agreement, which can prevent the student(s) from contacting or approaching you; or being able to access parts of the University that you frequently use.

You can initiate this procedure by submitting the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form.  You only need to include brief details of the behaviour 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 Student Disciplinary Procedure

This reporting process intiates a formal investigation.  If a breach of a Rule of Behaviour is admitted by the student or found by the Student Discipline Officer or Discipline Committee then sanctions or measures can be imposed upon the student.   You can initiate this procedure by submitting a Concern Form.  

If the misconduct occurred before 1 October 2019 then the University Advocate will investigate the matter in accordance with the previous regulations on discipline.  This is likely to involve a meeting with you to discuss the complaint, an investigation and, where appropriate, charging the student with 'harassment' (a single, or repeated incident involving unwanted and unwarranted conduct towards another person which is reasonably likely to have the effect of (i) violating that other's dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for that other).  Where a charge is made, there will be a hearing of the Discipline Committee and you may be requested to attend to give evidence.  

If the misconduct took place on or after 1 October 2019 then your complaint will be considered in accordance with the Student Discipline Procedure.  The Procedure explicitly prohibits physical misconduct, sexual misconduct and abusive behaviour.  You can find out more information about the procedure on the Student Discipline webpage.  Once you have submitted the form, the following process will take place:

  • The Investigator can meet with you before you submit a concern, to describe the process;
  • You can bring a supporter (who can be anyone, providing they're not a witness to events surrounding the misconduct) to any meetings, including a hearing, if you are requested to attend;
  • The respondent student (the person responsible for the misconduct) is prohibited from having contact with you whilst the investigation is ongoing;
  • You have an opportunity to provide an impact statement, so that the Discipline Committee can understand the impact that the behaviour has had on you;
  • You may need to attend a Discipline Committee meeting to give evidence to the Discipline Committee.  If so, there are adjustments that can be made to limit any interaction you would have with the other student.

How to report a staff member to the University

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.  A student has options about how to raise a complaint about a member of staff, outlined in the Flowchart of processes for student complaints regarding staff behaviour.

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.  At no point during the investigation will you be expected to be in the same room as the staff member and it is very unlikely that you will need to attend a hearing.  You will always be informed of the outcome of your complaint and any actions that directly affect you.

Reporting misconduct to a College

The procedure for complaining about a student, fellow or College employee 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, or where the Senior Tutor is involved, the Master of the College.

With your consent, the University and College may work together to decide how best to investigate a matter.  Where the report relates to a student engaging in sexual misconduct you will normally be directed to use the University's 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.

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