Bath Spa University values the views and experiences of our students and the community we are part of. We have a number of channels through which we can help resolve problems, big or small.
“Bath Spa University’s Vision is to be a leading educational institution in creativity, culture and enterprise. Through innovative teaching and research, the University will provide a high quality student experience.”
In delivering this vision, the University values the views of students highly and welcomes both positive and negative feedback. We recognise that from time to time things can go wrong and we have a number of options available to make sure your problems are resolved.
In cases where an informal solution cannot be found, the Complaints Policy may be invoked. This page, and the attached documents, explain our Complaints Policy and procedure and specifies the steps that should be taken to resolve problems. All genuine complaints will be treated seriously and impartially, according to the procedures set out in the Complaints Policy.
The Complaints Policy and procedures are subject to the Articles of Government of the University. The Complaints Policy sits alongside the Appeals Procedure relating to the decisions of Examination Boards; the provision of the General Student Regulations; and the Grievance Procedure agreed between the University and the recognised trade unions.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this policy, please contact our Complaints Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our policy and procedures
What is a complaint?
- A complaint is as any expression of grievance that a University service has failed or is failing to meet reasonable expectations, or that a member of staff or a student has behaved or is behaving unreasonably.
- Complaints may be made by any person with a reasonable interest or involvement in the grievance expressed. Complaints may be made on behalf of the complainant, by third parties. Third party complaints must be authorised in writing by the complainant before any action can be taken in response.
- The Complaints Policy will not be invoked in response to anonymous complaints as we are unable to respond to the complainant. However, any anonymous complaints received will be recorded in the complaints log and circulated to the relevant line manager(s) for noting
- Employees of the University may not use the complaints procedure to complain about other staff. Any such complaint should be raised through the University’s grievance procedure managed by the Human Resources Department.
- Complaints must be deemed to be genuine for the Complaints Policy to be invoked. The Complaints Officer may refuse to hear complaints s/he considers to be vexatious or frivolous. In these circumstances the complainant would be advised of the reason for the decision.
- Complaints made against students will be managed in accordance with the procedure at Annex A. All other complaints will follow the procedure at Annex B.
What can I complain about?
Grounds for a complaint may include:
- Deficiencies in standards of service (which might include problems with support facilities such as welfare, accommodation and teaching facilities)
- Harassment, bullying and victimisation
- Dissatisfaction with standards of teaching provision (for example, the basic academic framework such as structure, arrangements for assessment and information provided about a course)
- Dissatisfaction with the arrangements of the provision for supervision and tuition
- Failure to meet obligations such as those set out in the prospectus, Student Charter, disciplinary policy (including plagiarism) and management of student placements
- Other deficiencies in the quality of the student experience.
What can I not complain abut?
In line with the policies set by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), we will not consider complaints about:
- Admission decisions
- Assessment (instead, use the appeals procedure)
- Student employment
- Matters already considered by a court or tribunal, unless formally stayed
- Academic judgement or teaching quality (see below).
What is academic judgement?
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) defines this as:
“The OIA cannot interfere with the operation of a university's academic judgment. Our Rule 3.2 states that we do not cover a complaint to the extent that it relates to a matter of academic judgment. "Academic judgment" is a term found in Part 2 of the Higher Education Act 2004, so its interpretation will ultimately be for the courts. However, in our view academic judgment is not any judgment made by an academic. It is a judgment that is made about a matter where only the opinion of an academic expert will suffice.
For example, a judgment about assessment, a degree classification, fitness to practise, research methodology or course content/outcomes will normally be academic judgment. But the fairness of procedures, the facts of the case, misrepresentation, the manner of communication, bias, an opinion expressed outside the area of competence, the way evidence is considered and maladministration in relation to these matters are all issues where we have advised universities that academic judgment is not involved.
So, we cannot put ourselves in the position of examiners in order to re-mark work or pass comment on the marks given. However, we can look at whether the university has correctly followed its own assessment, marking and moderation procedures, and whether there was any unfairness or bias in the decision-making process.”
The Bath Spa University complaints procedures allow for students to make complaints against those elements of the OIA definition that are permissible for investigation under their rules.
Bath Spa University works closely with The Student Community Partnership (SCP) which supports student residents and permanent residents in coming together and living in the community of Bath. We support the SCP's activities in acting as a bridge between the universities and the students' unions in Bath; which includes the handling of complaints about student residents regarding noise, parking, and anti social behaviour.
Making a complaint
Complaints must be made within three months of a perceived problem or grievance occurring and should be addressed to the Complaints Officer. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the University will not hear a complaint which is raised more than three months after a perceived service failure.
The University will keep a complaint confidential in as far as is necessary to comply with its data protection obligations. No complainant or person complained against will be discriminated against while the complaint is being dealt with. We may deem it necessary to divulge certain information if the University believes there is a Health and Safety risk.
- The University intends to deal with complaints quickly and will endeavour to respond within 15 working days. To this end, complainants are encouraged to discuss issues in the first instance with the relevant member of University staff or his/her line manager. It is hoped that this will result in a satisfactory resolution to the issue. If a resolution cannot be achieved formal procedures will then apply.
- The University encourages anyone with a complaint to bring it forward informally in the first instance. An informal complaint can be looked at and responded to by any member of the University Policy Advisory Group, Senior Staff Forum or an appropriate deputy.
- All complaints are expected to follow the logical route of ‘stage one: informal’ before proceeding onto ‘stage two: formal’. Only in exceptional cases will the University permit stage one to be bypassed.
- The procedure for informal complaints can be varied according to the nature of the grievance expressed. In all cases the Complaints Officer will maintain a record of decisions taken. In the instance of a complaint against a student or member of staff any action taken will remain on file for 12 months.
- Where an informal complaint is not satisfactorily resolved through informal means, a formal complaint may be made in writing to the Complaints Officer. Complainants have 10 working days to object to a decision made at stage one and submit a formal complaint under stage two of the procedure.
- Details of all informal complaints and their outcomes will be reported to the Complaints Officer at the earliest opportunity. A record of informal complaints will be held and will be referred to during the investigation of a formal complaint.
Stage two - formal complaint
- Formal complaints should be made in writing to the Complaints Officer using the proforma at Annex C. Complaints should be as detailed and precise as possible, clearly explaining the nature of the complaint and the service and/or persons involved. The complaint should also specify the desired outcome.
- Complainants should have submitted an informal complaint before proceeding to the formal stage. The Complaints Officer will refer to the complaints log to verify the progress of complaints submitted. In the event that a formal complaint is lodged before the informal process is invoked, the Complaints Officer may advise the complainant on the informal procedure and refer the complaint informally to a relevant manager for consideration.
- A formal complaint can be investigated and responded to by any member of the University Policy Advisory Group who does not have a direct involvement in the matter being investigated.
- The Complaints Officer will keep a log of all formal complaints and their outcomes. An annual report highlighting any common themes or trends will be presented to the Board of Governors.
Submitting your complaint: documents and information
The documents and information below are provided to help you in submitting your complaint to the University.
If you wish to notify us or submit a complaint referring to a student resident issue, this will be referred to the Student Community Partnership complaint procedure for initial investigation and response.
If you have any questions or require support you can contact our Complaints Officer at email@example.com. Alternatively you may wish to speak to the Students' Union who can offer guidance on submitting a complaint.
Complaints policy documents
You may wish to download the Complaints Policy in full for your information. This document includes the main policy document and the three annexes (including the complaints form).
Complaints against students
Students at Bath Spa University are subject to the Student General Regulations, which can be found on The Hub. Upon notification of a possible breach of the student disciplinary regulations, the Complaints Officer will determine whether an informal resolution is appropriate, or whether the formal procedures need to be applied.
Further information can be found in Annex A of our complaints policy.
This procedure is to be used for all complaints except those against students or complaints against a staff member by another member of staff (see University Grievance Policy). For the purposes of this procedure it is assumed that the complaint is by a student or an external party against a University process/service or a member of staff.
Annex B contains the detailed steps of both stages of the Complaints Policy and complainants are advised to read through this before submitting a complaint.
Complainants should email their complaint, providing as much information as possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure you have followed the steps of the feedback and complaints flowchart before submitting your complaint. To aid in the investigation of the informal complaint please include what steps you have taken to date.
You may choose to use Annex C to structure your informal complaint.
All formal complaints must be submitted using Annex C and should be emailed to email@example.com with any accompanying documentation.