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Student Complaints

Raising a complaint with the University

If you are unhappy with the experience you have received from a University department, faculty, service or staff member, the University has a Student Complaint Procedure for you to use in order to try and resolve the situation. All complaints are treated seriously and are handled sensitively.

We understand that it can be a stressful experience to submit a complaint, particularly when it is about an individual staff member.  We recommend that you seek support and advice before submitting your complaint, depending on your circumstances this could be from a College Tutor, a Graduate Tutor, the Students' Unions' Advice Service at www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk or an independent advisor of your choosing.

Anonymous/confidential prevention reporting - for graduate students

The Student Complaint Procedure requires a student to identify themselves so that a matter can be investigated and an effective remedy put in place.  However, there may be some circumstances where a student wishes to report something so that the University knows about it and can take action, but the student does not wish to be named and make a complaint.  In this circumstance, speak to your Graduate Tutor or email OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk and we will chat through any available informal options.

Student Complaints Procedure - for all students

Step 1: Local resolution

Where appropriate, you should attempt to raise a concern with the responsible staff member. If you do not feel comfortable raising the matter with this person then you should speak or write to the Responsible Officer or the person responsible for the Faculty, Department or Service (your course handbook or the service's webpages may have more information).  You should raise your complaint as soon as it occurs or at least within 28 days of the matter arising.  Many issues can be resolved easily and quickly if you communicate your problem to someone.

Step 2: Formal resolution

If the response from the department, faculty, service or staff member has not resolved your complaint, or your complaint is so serious that you feel you can't raise it with them, complete and submit the Formal Complaint form, within 28 days of the matter arising or within 28 days of the response you received from the department, faculty, service or staff member. You should not include unnecessary information about other people in your complaint.

Formal resolution process

You will be appointed a Case Handler who will screen your complaint to make sure it can be considered under the Student Complaint Procedure.  Your Case Handler will confirm the outcome of the screening within 7 days of receiving your complaint.  If your complaint is eligible, the Case Handler will then conduct an investigation; the staff involved in your complaint will be sent a copy of the information you have provided and will be requested to provide a response.  

Your complaint and any responses will be considered by a Complaint Officer; an academic staff member who is not connected to your College or Faculty who has no knowledge of the case.  The Complaint Officer will make a decision about your complaint and consider a remedy, where this is appropriate.  The Case Handler will send you the Complaint Officer's decision and any staff responses. 

Occasionally the Case Handler or Complaint Officer might want further information from you during the investigation, if so, you will be sent the staff responses at this point, before being asked to provide a written statement or to attend a meeting.

Step 3: Review

If you are dissatisfied with the Complaint Officer's decision, you can request a review of the decision on the following grounds:

  • procedural irregularities that occurred during Formal Resolution, which were material or potentially material to the decision reached;

  • the Formal Resolution decision is unreasonable, in that no reasonable person could have reached the same decision on the available evidence;

  • the availability of new evidence, which materially impacts the complaint outcome and which, for valid reasons, could not have been submitted at an earlier stage.

In order to request a review, you will need to complete and submit the Review form within 14 days of receiving the Complaint Officer's decision.  Providing your request for review is eligible, it will be considered by a Reviewer who can either uphold or dismiss your request.  Where a request is upheld, a remedy can be put in place.  You will receive a Completion of Procedures letter with the Reviewer's decision.  This letter confirms the completion of the University's internal procedures.

What if you are unhappy with the final outcome?

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) runs an independent scheme to review student complaints. We are a member of this scheme. If you are unhappy with the outcome you may be able to ask the OIA to review your complaint. You can find more information about making a complaint to the OIA, what it can and can’t look at and what it can do to put things right here: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students.

You normally need to have completed the Student Complaint Procedure before you complain to the OIA.  We will send you a letter called a “Completion of Procedures Letter” when you have reached the end of our processes and there are no further steps you can take internally. If your complaint is not upheld, we will issue you with a Completion of Procedures Letter automatically. If your complaint is upheld or partly upheld you can ask for a Completion of Procedures Letter if you want one. You can find more information about Completion of Procedures Letters and when you should expect to receive one here: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/providers/completion-of-procedures-letters.