The Higher Education Complaints Procedure
The Higher Education Compliments, Comments, Complaints Policy and Procedure is approved and endorsed by the City of Liverpool College HE Strategy Group and conforms to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) UK Quality Code Chapter B9 and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator’s (OIA) Good Practice Framework for Handling Complaints and Academic Appeals.
The College operates its HE provision in collaboration and under the guidelines of its awarding body’s namely: Collaborative University Partners and Pearson. If the complainant has not been resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, it may be requested that their complaint receives an independent external review. The complainant should always be made aware of this right through the College proactive approach to informing students of their rights and by sharing the relevant Partner University’s complaints procedure and also that of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), in the programme handbooks, the College website and during the Induction programme. Independent external review follows what is considered to be stage 2 of complaints procedure.
2. What is a Complaint?
The College recognises that some students may wish to raise issues regarding the academic, administrative, support or other services provided by the College including (but not limited to):
- Failure by the College to meet obligations including those outlined in the course/student handbook.
- Misleading or incorrect information in documentation provided by the College.
- Concerns about the delivery of a programme, associated teaching or administration
- Poor quality of facilities, learning resources or services provided directly by the College
- The behaviour of a member of staff
- The behaviour of another student.
Some issues may be more appropriately considered under alternative processes rather than under the Higher Education Compliments, Comments, Complaints Policy and Procedure.
For example,the following are not normally dealt with under the alternative process:
- Dissatisfaction with a decision made by an academic body regarding student progression, academic assessment and awards. These issues are normally considered under the Academic Appeals Procedures set by the relevant Collaborative University Partner and awarding organisation Pearson, as stated in the College’s Academic Appeals Procedure.
- Dissatisfaction about the outcome of an academic misconduct process. Such issues are considered initially in the College and if not resolved in this way the Collaborative University Partners’ Academic Misconduct Appeals Procedures are applied.
- Dissatisfaction or concerns about other specific regulations such as Student Discipline, Fitness to Practice, Criminal Convictions Process, Attendance Policy etc. Student Regulations and Procedures are available at the HE student handbook page on the VLE.
- Complaints from applicants or regarding the admissions processes are covered by the Higher Education Compliments, Comments, Complaints Policy and Procedure under the following circumstances: (1) The college had not followed its own admissions policy (2) The entry criteria was not applied.
- Complaints relating to Accommodation issues should be directed to the manager of the relevant ccommodation.
- Matters relating to external companies, such as the Student Loans Company, have their own complaints procedures.
The Student Union can provide advice and guidance if students are unclear on which process they can access.
Where a student raises issues that do not fall neatly into the category of an individual process, in such cases the University will notify the students which specific issues will be considered under which specific procedure. Alternatively dependent upon the circumstances the University may with the agreement of the student, decide to consider matters together and conduct a collaborative investigation.
3. The Policy
3.1 At The City of Liverpool College we welcome any opportunity to review, change and improve our service. The Policy and Procedure is to support students, potential students, staff (in relation to supporting students), employers, stakeholders and the general public to communicate with and bring matters of dissatisfaction or concern to the attention of the College.
3.2 This document outlines the procedures and response times. Guidance in making a complaint, or the complaints policy in a different format, is available from Advice and Guidance at the Learning Exchange, Vauxhall Road or Bankfield Road or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3.3 This policy will be applied consistently to students, parents/carers, employers, visitors or members of the community regardless of their age, disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, status and marriage or civil partnership status in respect of unlawful discrimination.
3.4 Staff should use the internal grievance procedure for all staff complaints.
3.5 The College will respond to any complaint fairly and promptly:
> An acknowledgement response will be provided within 2 working days of receipt of the complaint.
> A further, more detailed response will be made within 10 working days
> A meeting will be offered between the parties involved if appropriate
> An appeal may be made to the Director of Learning if the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome
> Information on how to take the complaint further will be provided in the Completion of Procedures Letter.
4. Completion of Procedures Letter
As a Higher Education provider we comply with The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) rules July 2015.
Under the OIA Scheme Rules, the HE Complaints department will issue a Completion of Procedure 28 days after any internal process has been complete. If the student has no further avenues to pursue in relation to the issue, then the letter is issued detailing the date the complaints procedure has been completed, it clarifies the issues investigated, it establishes the timescales for escalation to the OIA and advises the student of the OIA process.
Wherever possible, we encourage students to attempt to resolve any issue by talking to the person immediately concerned or alternatively a personal tutor, or if the issue cannot easily be resolved the complaint should be directed to the relevant Assistant Principal. For alternative formats contact email@example.com 2. If students are unable to resolve the issue informally, a formal complaint is made.
The complaint must be about something which has happened within the last twelve months.
The complainant will receive a receipt and acknowledgement within 2 days and the complaint is passed on to the relevant investigating officer.
A written response to the complaint is made no later than 10 working days during term time – it may take longer over college holiday times due to staff availability.
5.1 The Complaints policy and procedure is for all people served by the Higher Education team including staff (in relation to supporting students), students, parents, stakeholders, employers, contractors, visitors and others.
5.2 The policy does not replace College policy and procedures for academic appeals or disciplinary action; these procedures should be applied where appropriate.
6. The Complaints Process for Students
Informal Complaints up to Head of School level
6.1 Wherever possible, attempt to resolve the issue by talking to the person immediately concerned.
If you are a student and cannot or do not want to talk to the person directly concerned:
> Talk to your personal tutor
> Discuss the matter with your student representative who can accompany you to a meeting
> If the complaint is made about a member of staff and you would like to be accompanied when this meeting takes place, you can ask at Advice and Guidance for someone to come with you. S/he will support you in getting your points across as clearly as possible and help where possible to enable you and the person concerned to resolve the problem informally
> If the issue cannot easily be resolved the complaint should be directed to the relevant Assistant Principal
> Verbal complaints to Reception and staff in public areas and/or requests to meet the Principal should be referred to the Head of School of the area in which the complaint is about or, if they are unavailable, the centre manager
> If the complaint is resolved at this stage it must be recorded in the HE Expression of Dissatisfaction Log and any related documentation retained for two years. Where the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved at this level, all documentation and notes should be forwarded to The HE Complaints Team as a formal complaint.
7. Making a formal complaint
7.1 If you are unable to resolve the issue informally, you can make a formal complaint.
The complaint must be about something which has happened within the last twelve months.
> You can complete a complaints form, which is available from the complaints department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the team on 0151 252 3627. Alternatively you can access the form in Advice and Guidance, LRCs or reception, email email@example.com or BuzztheBoss on 07757454854
> For alternative formats contact firstname.lastname@example.org from Advice and Guidance, College receptions, LRCs or from the Student Intranet homepage under Information. If you would like help to fill in form ask any member of staff in Advice and Guidance, LRCs or reception, email email@example.com or BuzztheBoss on 07757 454 854
> You will receive a receipt and acknowledgement within 2 days and your complaint will be passed on to the relevant investigating officer
> Your receipt will have the name of the investigating officer. You will receive a written response to your complaint no later than 10 working days during term time – it may take longer over college holiday times due to staff availability.
7.2 You will, in most cases, be able to withdraw your complaint at any point. But if your complaint is considered to have an impact on students, staff or the college, the investigating officer may have to follow it through even if you want to withdraw.
7.3 The Complaints Manager will nominate the appropriate officer to investigate the complaint. The nominated person to lead the investigation will be the Head of School or Assistant Principal for that area. For alternative formats contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
7.4 On completion of an investigation the investigating officer will:
> Propose an amicable resolution
> Uphold or partially uphold the complaint, offer an apology and take appropriate steps to address the issue
> Dismiss the complaint as unfounded, providing reasons.
7.5 A complaint against the Principal, the Board or an individual Governor should be addressed to: The Clerk to the Board of Governors, The City of Liverpool College, The Learning Exchange, Roscoe Street Liverpool, L1 9DW.
Complaints against The Clerk of the Board should be addressed to The Chair of the Board of Governors, c/o The Principal, The City of Liverpool College, The Learning Exchange Roscoe Street, Liverpool L1 9DW.
8. Appeal Procedure
8.1 If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint you can appeal. You can get an appeal form from email@example.com, Advice and Guidance, or College reception. You can expect a response within 10 working days during term time – it may take longer over college holiday times due to staff availability.
8.2 All higher education students who are in receipt of student support funding, have access to the same dispute resolution arrangements as any other student on a higher education programme in England. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) is the Government’s designated operator for handling unresolved student complaints in higher education. The OIA provides an independent, transparent complaints handling scheme to review student complaints and academic appeals. More information about the OIA can be found on its website www.oiahe.org.uk
A Completion of Procedure letter is issued detailing the OIA complaints appeals procedure and how a learner can access it.
9. Recording and Monitoring Complaints
9.1 All formal complaints are recorded by the HE Complaints Team, a regular review is undertaken by the quality manager responsible for the Equality for any element of potential or actual discrimination.
All staff have a responsibility for receiving complaints and treating them promptly and courteously in accordance with the procedure above. Staff are expected to provide assistance to support a complainant where necessary.
All managers have a responsibility for resolving complaint and leading or contributing to an investigation where deemed appropriate. For alternative formats contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Learning
The Director of Learning is responsible for resolving complaints that have reached the appeals stage.
The Board of Governors
The Board of Governors is responsible for over-seeing the complaints policy and procedure and may become involved if a complaint is directed at the Principal, the Clerk or any member of the Board.
10. Complaints procedure for employers
Contact your Account Manager or main college contact in the first instance. If the problem is not resolved, you should contact the Employer Relationship Manager on 0151 252 3282.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another on the grounds of any of their protected characteristics.
Discrimination based on association
Direct discrimination also occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of their association with another person who has a protected characteristic (other than pregnancy and maternity).
This might occur when a person is treated less favourably because their sibling, parent, carer or friend has a protected characteristic.
Discrimination based on perception
Direct discrimination also occurs when a person is treated less favourably because it is mistakenly thought or presumed that they have a protected characteristic (other than pregnancy and maternity).
Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criteria or practice is applied in the same way for all, but this has the effect of putting individuals/groups sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage.
Indirect discrimination will occur if the following four conditions are met:
v the provision, criterion or practice is applied (or would apply) equally to all, including a individuals/groups with a protected characteristic
v the provision, criterion or practice puts or would put individuals sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage compared to those who do not share that characteristic
v the provision, criteria, practice or rule puts or would put the particular individual/group at that disadvantage
v For alternative formats contact email@example.com
v It cannot be shown that the provision, criteria or practice is justified as a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
Harassment is the unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating the person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
Conduct of a sexual nature is specifically included within the definition, although marriage/civil partnerships and pregnancy/maternity are not included as protected characteristics for harassment.
Victimisation occurs when a person is treated badly because they have made, supported or raised a complaint or grievance under the Equality Act; or because they are suspected of doing so. A person is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint. There is no longer a need to compare treatment of a complainant with that of a person who has not made or supported a complaint under the Act. For alternative formats contact firstname.lastname@example.org