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Student Complaints

The University is aware that students will be affected by the impact of industrial action during the 2022-23 academic year.

There have been two types of industrial action during the year:

  1. strikes that may have impacted students' scheduled teaching during the academic year; and
  2. the Marking and Assessment Boycott, which may impact students' receiving formal published examination results within the expected timeframe.  

The University has sought as far as reasonably possible to mitigate the effects of the strike on its own students’ education by, for example, re-arranging teaching where possible, providing as much in-person teaching as possible, delivering teaching online if in-person was not possible, modifying examinations or assessments where appropriate (while maintaining academic standards) and providing pastoral support and guidance.  The University has sought to mitigate the effect of the Marking and Assessment Boycott by:

  • publicly calling for the employers’ organisation, UCEA, to resume negotiations with the Union, UCU, in order to end the boycott;
  • approved the release of provisional marks, where these exist, to help provide some evidence of academic attainment
  • reminding examiners that they can class part of a cohort, even if marks are missing for some students
  • providing a template letter for Colleges and Departments to use to write to employers and educational institutions on behalf of students;
  • arranged celebratory events at the time of graduate ceremonies, to enable students to celebrate with friends and families;
  • successfully lobbied the Home Office to support international students who wish to stay on graduate visas.

In the circumstances and having reviewed matters carefully, the University is not planning to provide a fee refund or financial reimbursement generally to students. The factors taken into account by the University in reaching this position include the following:

  • As a result of the steps taken and processes available to avoid substantial detriment to students, the University anticipates that few students will in fact have been materially disadvantaged as a result of industrial action.
  • Tuition fees are charged for a wide range of educational facilities, services and learning opportunities, which are provided by the University and do not directly correlate to individual teaching sessions or facilities, including specific teaching or learning provision which may have been rescheduled or delivered in alternative formats as a result of the response to industrial action. 
  • In many cases, the terms of admission, which students agree when they accept a place at Cambridge, includes a clause which states that the University will not be liable for matters outside the University’s control, which explicitly includes strikes or other industrial action.

Raising a complaint

There may be some students who consider that they have incurred significant financial loss or damage as a consequence of industrial action and who believe that they have valid ground(s) for complaint against the University. In the event that any student, having taken into account the factors listed above, still wishes to bring a complaint in relation to the impact of industrial action, a dedicated complaint form has been developed for use under the existing Student Complaint Procedure

  • Should any complaint be upheld, and where the requested remedy is for the reimbursement of tuition fees, which have been funded by a third party, such as the Student Loans Company in the case of Home/EU students, students should note that normally any reimbursement will be paid back to the funder.

The deadline for bringing complaints under the Student Complaint Procedure is normally 28 days from the date of the event which is the subject matter of the complaint. However, in order to ensure clarity and fairness in relation to any complaints brought relating to the impact of industrial action, the time limit for bringing complaints about the impact of:

  • strikes that impacted scheduled teaching and learning opportunities will run until Tuesday 1 August 2023, such complaints must be submitted (to on or before Tuesday 1 August 2023;
  • the Marking and Assessment Boycott will run until 28 days after the publication of a student's formal examination results, such complaints must be submitted (to on or before the 28th day following the publication of a student's formal examination results.  It is unlikely that the University will be able to fully consider a complaint of this nature until a student's formal examination results have been published, so that the full impact of any delay can be considered.

As with any other complaint, it is expected that a complainant will have first raised their concerns directly with the relevant Department or Faculty at the time of the events giving rise to the complaint.  If students have concerns about the Examination results themselves, for example that there has been a procedural irregularity in the examination and marking processes then an Examination Review request will need to be submitted within 28 days of the publication of a student's formal examination results.

It should further be noted that, while the University in principle accepts group complaints in certain circumstances, such complaints are unlikely to be suitable in relation to industrial action, unless the individual complainants share the same year and course group and are requesting the same remedies on indistinguishable grounds. The University reserves the right where appropriate to combine individual complaints or to separate group complaints.

Further information is available regarding the Student Complaint Procedure and industrial action. Any prospective complainant is encouraged to seek support from a member of the Student Advice Service, or other advisor of the student’s choosing.  Advice and support will be available from a student's College or Graduate Tutor, if they are a matriculated student.  If a student is not matriculated, advice and support will be available from your Faculty, Department or Institute.