The aims of the Student Complaints Process are:
- to resolve complaints in a timely, effective, and fair manner; and
- to resolve complaints as close as possible to the academic or service area in which they arise.
If you have any concerns about your course or a service, we’d always recommend that you try to resolve the issue informally in the first instance. However, if this is not possible or you aren’t happy with the outcome you can pursue a formal complaint via the complaint procedure. The full policy is available here.
Who can make a complaint?
- Any student currently enrolled on a Futureworks degree course.
- Students who have suspended their studies, who have been temporarily suspended or excluded from Futureworks.
- Former students, providing this is done within 90 days of leaving their course.
- A representative of the student, provided personal consent has been given under the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
- A single student or collectively by a group of students. Where a complaint is raised collectively, it should include a signed statement from all parties authorising one person to speak on behalf of the group. Note that receipt of a collective complaint does not necessarily indicate that the outcome of the process will be identical for all parties.
Who cannot make a complaint?
- Except in exceptional circumstances, anonymous complaints will not be dealt with under this procedure. Anonymous complaints are handled at the discretion of the Vice Principal.
What is and is not a complaint?
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator defines a complaint as:
“an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more students about a provider’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by … the provider.”
A complaint may relate to:
- the quality and standard of service provided by Futureworks, including the provision of teaching and learning
- failure to provide a service which would reasonably be expected as a student on a course
- facilities or learning resources deemed to be unsuitable for the prescribed purpose
- inappropriate behaviour or treatment by a staff member
- a failure by Futureworks to correctly follow a stated administrative or academic process
A complaint cannot be made about:
- a routine, first-time request for a service
- a matter relating purely to academic judgement (including marks awarded for formative or summative assignments unless on the grounds that appropriate marking procedures were not followed)
- an academic appeal against a decision by an examination board
- Freedom of Information Act, Subject Access Requests, or other Data Protection requests
- requests for information on Futureworks’ policies or procedures
- responses to invitations to provide feedback
- insurance claims
- attempts to have a complaint reconsidered after final decision has already been reached
- misconduct relating to research and/or ethical practice
- challenges to admissions decisions
- complaints about third parties or other students
- complaints about matters which have already or are under consideration by the OIA
- complaints about matters which are under legal review
Can I make a complaint about UCLan?
Complaints about the partner university (UCLan) should be made directly to the university: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/legal/complaints
How long will the process take?
Once an outcome has been provided at Stage 2 (Formal departmental investigation), you will have 14 calendar days to request that your case be escalated to Stage 3. A request to consider a complaint beyond the above time limits will not normally be granted unless there is evidence that you were prevented from raising or escalating the complaint within the normal timescales.
Who will know about my complaint?
Confidentiality will be preserved during the investigation of a complaint to safeguard the interests of everyone concerned, unless disclosure is necessary to progress the complaint, or where the health and safety of individuals may be at risk.
Overview of the Process
1.) Speak directly to the appropriate member of staff (Programme Leader, Module Leader, Head of School etc.)
4.) Contact Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)
Stage 1 – Early Resolution [Informal]
Some issues may be resolved in an informal way with the person(s) concerned, such as a module or personal tutor, or a member of our support staff. Most concerns can be resolved informally and quickly, and should you wish to bring our attention to any aspect of your experience at Futureworks, we encourage you to raise the matter with the appropriate person. For example:
- A concern about your experience within a module can be raised with the Module Leader. Or, if there is a reason why you prefer not to speak to the Module Leader, you can speak to your Personal Tutor or your Programme Leader.
- A concern about Futureworks learning resources can be raised with the Head of Student Affairs.
If you’re not sure who to speak to about an issue, please contact Student Services.
Stage 2 – School/Departmental Investigation and Resolution [Formal]
There may be issues, which you feel cannot be resolved informally, or where you have raised the matter with your tutor or a member of support staff but are dissatisfied with the response. Stage 2 is for these issues. Your concern will be fairly and thoroughly investigated by a relevant senior member of staff, and handled under our formal complaint resolution procedures, as required.
Stage 3 – Institutional Review and Final Resolution [Formal]
If you are unhappy with the outcome of a Stage 2 investigation, you may request a Stage 3 Institutional Review and Final Resolution.
A Stage 3 review may only be requested where there is evidence of:
(a) procedural irregularity or bias at Stage 2,
(b) where the Stage 2 outcome is considered to be unreasonable,
(c) where material evidence has become available that was not available at Stage 2 (and where it would not be appropriate for the lead investigator at Stage 2 to reopen the case).
Should any complaint not be satisfactorily resolved through our internal three stage process, students are able to request that their complaint be independently reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) [www.oiahe.org.uk], the HE sector ombudsman. The OIA will only review complaints which have gone through our internal processes and will not consider any complaints which are made directly to them without going through Stage 1, 2 or 3.
Vexatious, Malicious and/or Frivolous Complaints
Most concerns raised by students are made in good faith, but there are occasions where a complaint is made with the intention of causing harm, stress, disproportionate effort and/or reputational damage to Futureworks and its community. These complaints will be referred to the Vice Principal who will determine if it meets any of the following criteria:
- The complaint is without any clear purpose or value; or,
- The complaint is designed to cause disruption and/or annoyance; or,
- The complaint is likely to give rise to disproportionate inconvenience and/or expense; or,
- The complaint is likely to have the effect of harassing Futureworks and/or its staff; or,
- The complaint can be fairly characterised as obsessive and/or manifestly unreasonable; or,
- The complainant is deemed to be intent on doing harm and/or mischief; or,
- The complaint has been made in malice, e.g., it is clear that no redress is sought; or,
- The complaint is not serious or sensible in content, attitude or behaviour; or,
- There is an absence of a clear desire for a sensible or reasonable form of redress.
If the Vice Principal rejects the complaint you will be contacted in writing, within 14 days, along with details of why the complaint is considered to be an abuse of process. You may appeal against a decision to reject your complaint as an abuse of process by writing to the Principal within 14 days of this decision. The Principal will consider the appeal and will notify you of the appeal decision within 30 days. If the original decision is upheld, a Completion of Procedures letter will be issued.
Unacceptable Complainant Behaviour
We understand that making a complaint can be a stressful experience for students, however, we also have a duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff.
We are committed to dealing with all students fairly and impartially, and to providing a high-quality service, but we do not expect our staff to tolerate behaviour which would be considered to be unacceptable.
This includes, for example, any communication which is found to be:
- Abusive, offensive, defamatory, or distressing
- Aggressive, threatening, coercive or intimidating
- Unreasonably persistent or demanding.
We will take action to protect our staff from such behaviour, which may include action under the Regulations for the Conduct of Students.
Where behaviour is considered to be unacceptable you will be notified and given the opportunity to change it. If the unacceptable behaviour continues, the Vice Principal has the right to temporarily impose conditions of contact with Futureworks staff and/or students, restrictions on access to facilities, or other appropriate conditions regarding your continuance at Futureworks. Any conditions imposed by the Vice Principal will be appropriate and proportionate. The Vice Principal will write to you explaining why your behaviour is considered to be unacceptable, what action has been taken as a result, and the duration of that action. If the behavior continues, it may be necessary to terminate contact with you and your complaint will be stopped altogether. If behaviour threatens the safety and welfare of Futureworks staff and/or students, the Vice Principal will consider other options, including utilising the provisions of the Regulations for the Conduct of Students (including suspension and/or withdrawal), reporting the matter to the police, and/or taking other legal action.