This section should be read in conjunction with the General Principles for Staff Dealing with Complaints.
A Stage 2 Complaint should be submitted in writing, using the Student Complaint Form (Stage 2) to the Head of Academic Affairs within 10 working days of the outcome of Stage 1 and normally not later than 25 working days after first becoming aware of the incident or issues giving rise to the complaint.
The complaint will be acknowledged by Academic Affairs. Subject to the Head of Academic Affairs being satisfied that the student has taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter at Stage 1, that the student has presented a prima facie case (see section 2.1 of the Student Complaints Procedure) and that no other University procedure or policy is appropriate, the written complaint will be referred to the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor (FPVC) or Director of the relevant Service, who will appoint a member of staff (the Investigating Officer) to carry out an investigation. The member of staff should not be from the same School / Unit as the student, and should have no prior knowledge of the matter.
If it is not clear that the student has submitted a prima facie case, the complaint will be considered by a Screening Panel under the Prima Facie Screening process (see section 2.1 of the Student Complaints Procedure), prior to the case being investigated.
The Investigating Officer may:
- make a recommendation to the FPVC/Director on the written information only; or
- meet with the student, the person against whom the complaint has been made and/or any other witness and prepare a report for the FPVC/Director setting out any findings and may include a recommendation(s).
Interviews should be carried out in cases where the facts are disputed.
Advice on carrying out interviews can be obtained from Academic Affairs.
Should the Investigating Officer consider it necessary to hold interviews, the member of staff against whom a complaint has been made should be advised of their right to be accompanied and/or represented (see Support and Representation above). It is advisable for another member of staff to attend the meeting as a note-taker. A note of all meetings should be retained.
It is important that the same staff be used throughout the investigation. If the two sides to a dispute are interviewed separately, any fresh allegations made during an interview should be made known to the other party. Complaint interviews should not be adversarial in nature and as far as possible, staff should not be made to feel that they are "in the dock" - they should be thanked for co-operating in the investigation of a complaint.
Investigating Officer's Report
The Investigating Officer will prepare a report, taking into account all the evidence presented, normally within 15 working days of receiving the complaint. The Investigating Officer should refer to the ‘General Principles for Staff Dealing with Complaints’’ when compiling the report. The Investigating Officer may make recommendations to the FPVC/Director.
Where it is not possible to meet the deadline for preparing a report, for whatever reason and regardless of the time of year, the Investigating Officer should inform the student and any member of staff against whom a complaint has been made of the delay and should provide them with a revised timeframe. If the delay is on-going, the Investigating Officer should also update the student and those against whom a complaint has been made, regularly in the event of any such delay. Failure to do so may give rise to further complaint.
Upon completion, the Investigating Officer should send the report to Academic Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ensure that any recommendations comply with University regulations.
The Investigating Officer should then send the report to the complainant, who will be permitted to respond in writing within five working days of receipt of the report and before the decision is made by the FPVC/Director. A copy of the Investigating Officer’s report should also be sent to Academic Affairs for information. The Investigating Officer should not enter into discussion or correspondence with the student about the content of the report or the recommendation/s at this stage but should ensure that the student confirms that all their issues have been addressed fully and that the report is factually accurate.
Following receipt of the student’s response, the Investigating Officer has the discretion to make further enquiries where they deem it necessary or appropriate.
The Investigating Officer should then forward their report (which may or may not contain a recommendation), together with any further comments from the student or any other parties to the relevant FPVC/Director for decision.
The FPVC/Director shall make a decision and may:
- Uphold the complaint in full or in part (and take action accordingly); or
- Dismiss the complaint; or
- Make any such recommendation(s) or proposed resolution as they deem fit.
This decision should be communicated to the student in writing, normally within eight working days of the decision being made by the FPVC/Director.