Development and Skills Conference 2013: Iain rowan - student complaints

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  • 1. Why do students complain and appeal, and what should we do about it? Iain Rowan Assistant Director of Academic Services University of Sunderland
  • 2. Introduction • • • • • • • The difference between complaint and appeal Who complains and why? What makes a good (and bad) complaint? How should we deal with complaints? Some complications… Sources of support Case studies
  • 3. Complaint…or appeal • What’s the difference?
  • 4. What type of student is most likely to complain? • All data courtesy of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) • Taken from their Annual Report 2012 • …so who are the OIA anyway, and what do they do? • ...but my institution is in Scotland or N. Ireland!
  • 5. What makes for a bad (or good) complaint? • • • • • Not clear about issue Not clear about desired outcomes Irrelevant material included Unevidenced Inflammatory or abusive
  • 6. Dealing with complaints • Follow procedure • The critical importance of evidence, documentation and good record-keeping • Contemporaneous note-taking • Transparency of evidence • Think about full disclosure…but don’t forget about data protection
  • 7. Dealing with complaints • Supporting all parties – students, staff, victims and alleged perpetrators • Considering the role of mental health, and the support implications. • Considering the role of disabilities, the DDA, and the implications. • Consider and evaluate risk clearly and without assumptions.
  • 8. Responding to complaints • Address every issue • Be clear if not upheld why that is • Be clear on action taken – even if not an action which affects that student • Don’t be afraid to use the ‘A word’. • Perceptions of justice
  • 9. Some complications • • • • • • Third party involvement Mental health Dealing with unacceptable complainant behaviour Legal action Collaborative activity Complaints/appeals
  • 10. Sources of support • The OIA – case studies, annual reports, seminars, good practice guidance • The QAA Quality Code Chapter B9 • Academic Registrars’ Council Complaints and Appeals Practitioners’ Group Scottish Public Services Ombudsman