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General Principles and Stage 1 Complaint

  • What can I complain about?

    Queen's University students can use the Student Complaints Procedure to lodge complaints regarding:

    • Services or facilities provided by the University; this includes teaching and academic facilities and services.
    • Alleged misconduct or inappropriate behaviour of staff.
    • Student support services.
    • Administrative services. 
    • An alleged action or inaction by the University.

    If your complaint is regarding another student's behaviour, you may submit a Formal Statement of Complaint under the Conduct Regulations (see Student Guide - Conduct Regulations). You may also wish to consider making a report via Report and Support.

  • What can’t I complain about?
    1. Academic judgement
    2. Board of Examiners’ decisions i.e. progression, assessment and awards.
    3. Degree classifications
    4. Examination or assignment marks
    5. University Committee decisions i.e. academic offences, student conduct, academic appeals.

    If your complaint is regarding another student's behaviour, you may submit a Formal Statement of Complaint under the Conduct Regulations (see Student Guide - Conduct Regulations). You may also wish to consider making a report via Report and Support.

  • What if my circumstances are confidential or sensitive?

    All information provided will be treated by the University within the normal bounds of confidentiality and in accordance with Data Protection requirements.  However, any information or documentation submitted by you as part of a complaint will normally be shared with anyone against whom the complaint has been made or from whom a response is required.  Please be aware that if you do not want to share all the details of your concerns with the University within the Student Complaints Procedure, this may result in the details of your situation not being taken into account during the investigation of your complaint. 



  • Will the person against whom I have raised a complaint be told about my complaint?

    Yes, normally the person against whom a complaint has been made will be made aware of the allegations being made against them, and will normally be provided with a copy of the complaint against them. However, they won't be given information or documentation about any other elements of the complaint that do not relate to them. 

  • Support

    You have the right to be accompanied to any meetings by a registered student of the University (including a Sabbatical Officer from the Students’ Union) or by a member of staff of the University (including a member of staff from SU Advice) or University Chaplaincy at any stage in the procedure. The role of the person accompanying you is one of support, not representation, and you will normally be expected to present your own case.

    You can also seek assistance and support from SU Advice. Support is also available from Student Wellbeing.

  • Can I make an anonymous complaint?

    Complaints made anonymously will not normally be investigated.  You may wish to consider speaking to your class representative or Students’ Union Officers, who may be willing to raise general issues on your behalf. 

    However, the university reserves the right to investigate anonymous complaints, if it deems it appropriate to do so. 

  • Can someone else complain on my behalf?

    Each student making a complaint shall normally be expected to present their own case. 

    Complaints from third parties shall only be considered for investigation if it is accepted that there is a valid reason for you not being able to submit or deal with the complaint yourself.

    A complaint submitted by one student (the Lead Student) as representative of a group of named students, where the issue/s raised is the same or substantially the same in each case, will be accepted and investigated in accordance with the Student Complaints Procedure.  The Lead Student must provide evidence that they are acting on behalf of and with the consent of the other named students.  All communication from the University will be with the Lead Student, who will be responsible for disseminating information to other members of the group.

  • I accept that things go wrong and sometimes can’t be fixed but I still want to complain – is this ok?

    Yes.  Sometimes things can go wrong and may not be resolved or there may be no suitable redress.  It is useful, however, for such matters to be brought to the attention of the University so that it can investigate and, if appropriate, take steps to ensure that there is no recurrence.  This can provide useful feedback for the University. Complaints of this nature can therefore act as useful feedback for the University.  You can seek advice on whether or not to pursue such a complaint or simply inform the Students’ Union or your class representative who may raise the issue on your behalf.

  • What if I want the process to stop?

    You can stop the process at any time by speaking to the person dealing with your Stage 1 complaint or by writing to the Investigating Officer or Academic Affairs explaining the reasons for requesting an end to the investigation.

  • Frivolous, vexatious or mischievous complaints

    Make sure you seek advice about making a complaint. The onus is on you to present sufficient evidence to warrant investigation under the procedure.

    A student who makes a complaint which, following an investigation, is found to be frivolous (i.e. a complaint which has no reasonable chance of success) or vexatious (i.e. where there can be no additional remedy beyond that which the student has already been offered) or where the complaint is found to be mischievous (where the motive for making a complaint is malicious, spiteful or vindictive), shall be deemed to be in breach of the Conduct Regulations.  

  • Unsubstantiated allegations / defamatory comments

    You should be careful not to make unsubstantiated or defamatory allegations or comments about other students, members of University staff or any other person.  If the University considers that an allegation or comment may be deemed to be defamatory, it may require you to retract the allegation or delete the comment before commencing an investigation.

  • When should I raise an issue or concern?

    You should always try to resolve a problem or issue as soon as it occurs and should approach the appropriate persons within 10 working days of the incident occurring.  Usually, the sooner you raise the concern, the easier it is to resolve.

    The University will also consider complaints from students up to one month after graduation or receipt of their final results/ outcome whichever is sooner.

  • How do I make a complaint?

    Most complaints raised by students can be dealt with at Stage 1, an informal process involving discussions with staff in the School or Service where the difficulty has arisen.  You can use the Student Complaint (Stage 1) Pro-Forma to submit your stage 1 complaint if you wish, however it is not mandatory and stage 1 complaints can also be raised via email, or letter to a relevant member of staff.

    If you have an issue with the content of a lecture, or with a lecturer, you should speak to them about it.  If you feel uncomfortable about this, then you should discuss the issue with your Personal Tutor or another member of staff in your School.

    If you have a valid reason as to why you are unable to discuss the issues with the staff in the School or University Service, you may submit a formal Student Complaint (Stage 2) Form to the Head of Academic Affairs. The reasons why stage 1 was not attempted should be clearly detailed within your Student Complaint (Stage 2) Form.

    If the concern arises during a work or study placement, you should raise the matter in the first instance with the member of staff at the workplace or institution in question who is responsible for the placement.  You should note that the University’s Student Complaints Procedure cannot be used to pursue a complaint against an external body.

    Please note that it is your responsibility to present your complaint clearly and succinctly and to provide any relevant supporting evidence.  It is helpful to set your complaint out under bullet points or headings rather than blocks of text.  

    It should be noted that if it is not clear that you have presented sufficient evidence and /or a sufficiently compelling case, your complaint will be considered by a Screening Panel (see section 2.1 of the Student Complaints Procedure). 

  • My complaint has been sent to a Screening Panel – what happens next?

    If it is not clear that you have presented sufficient evidence to warrant investigation into your complaint, a Screening Panel (comprising of two senior members of University staff) will consider your complaint documentation and determine whether or not sufficient evidence and/or a sufficiently compelling case has been presented to.

    If the Screening Panel determines that there is sufficient evidence and / or a sufficiently compelling case, the matter will be referred for investigation under the appropriate University Regulations or procedure. 

    If the Screening Panel determines that you have not presented sufficient evidence and / or a sufficiently compelling case, you will be advised and given the opportunity to request a review on the following grounds:

    i. There is substantive and relevant new evidence which could not have been presented to the University at the time of making the complaint.

    ii. There was a procedural irregularity in the consideration of the case and/or the decision by the Screening Panel which had a demonstrable impact on the decision (e.g. that evidence was not considered).

    If you submit a request for review, the Review Panel (comprising of two senior members of University staff) will consider all of your documentation and will either:

    i. Determine that sufficient evidence and/or a sufficiently compelling case has been presented and refer the matter for consideration under the appropriate University procedure; or

    ii. Confirm the decision of the Screening Panel that there is insufficient evidence and/or a sufficiently compelling case has not been presented and dismiss the complaint.

    There is no further internal right of appeal against the decision of the Review Panel. However, you may submit a complaint about maladministration in the procedure to the Office of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman. Complaints to the Ombudsman must be made within 6 months of notification of the Review Panel’s decision.

  • When will I receive my Stage 1 Complaint outcome?

    The individual with whom you raised your stage 1 complaint will attempt to resolve the matter and respond to your complaint within five working days. However, you should note that, other circumstances such as staff absence, staff workload or the complexity of your complaint, might mean that it is not possible to respond to your appeal within this timescale.

    At the conclusion of Stage 1, the individual dealing with your complaint will write to you to:

    • Inform you that Stage 1 has concluded;
    • Set out the terms of any resolution or agreement reached; and
    • Advise you of your right to make a Stage 2 complaint if you remain dissatisfied.