Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures.
1. Purpose of procedures
This document contains procedures for addressing student complaints and appeals consistent with the principles and requirements in the Student Complaints and Appeals – Governing Policy. That policy should be read before any action is taken under these procedures.
2. Student Complaints and Appeals Framework
2.1 Principles and approach to student complaints and appeals
The principles and approach to student complaints and appeals at the University are provided in the University’s Student Complaints and Appeals – Governing Policy.
The policy provides for four stages of complaints and appeals and explains the differences between the stages:
Stage 1 informally within a School/Faculty or service area of the University
Stage 2 formally within a School/Faculty or service area of the University
Stage 3 appeal within the University
Stage 4 complaint or appeal external to the University
Students are able to access processes at any of these stages and may access processes at more than one stage. (Refer to Figure 1 - Complaints and appeals procedures - showing the appropriate order in which they should usually be accessed.)
2.2 Initiating action on a complaint or appeal
a) Students will be advised of the complaints and appeals processes as part of their Orientation or similar event and through the University website. Students will be provided with, or advised on how to access, all information concerning the complaints and appeals processes.
b) Before initiating action to lodge a complaint, or appeal, students are encouraged to:
- seek confidential advice from Student Services and Engagement, the Student Ombudsman, USC International or the Student Guild, so that they are aware of:
- the most appropriate processes for addressing their concern under relevant policies or procedures
- the need to present the concern or situation clearly and factually when lodging any written complaint or appeal
- follow Stage 1 complaint processes before lodging any written Stage 2 complaints where this is appropriate
- pursue written Stage 2 complaint processes before lodging a Stage 3 internal appeal, where this is appropriate
- lodge a Stage 3 internal appeal before lodging a Stage 4 external appeal where appropriate.
2.3 Where several students have the same complaint
If several students have the same complaint, those students may act as a group in following Stage 1 complaint-handling processes, but each student must act individually if Stage 2 complaint or Stage 3 appeal processes are to be followed.
2.4 Right to be accompanied by a support person
A student has the right to be accompanied and assisted by a support person in any interview, meeting or hearing related to the student’s complaint or appeal, and the student should advise the person/s arranging the interview, meeting or hearing of the name of any support person who will accompany the student.
The support person cannot be a practising legal practitioner; and, except when Stage 1 complaint processes are followed, the support person cannot be a University staff member.
2.5 Mediation of a complaint
Mediation processes are discussions and negotiations involving the student and other persons in trying to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the student’s formal complaint. In these processes, the people involved either reach an agreed outcome or do not reach an agreed outcome; there is no one person or body who/which makes a decision in relation to the complaint.
Usually, where agreement is reached through mediation the student and the other persons involved sign an agreement that documents the agreed outcome. Persons attending mediation should have the authority to make decisions regarding the complaint.
2.6 Anonymous complaints
If a student has reasonable grounds to believe that a person acting for, or on behalf of, or in a role associated with, the University has behaved in a way that is inappropriate, unlawful or prejudicial to the University, or that endangers a member of the University community, the student may make an anonymous complaint to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Further inquiry into allegations will be made if the issues raised are serious and sufficient information is provided. If there is insufficient information to pursue an investigation the complaint will be kept on record and may be used if other complaints about the same matter are received.
2.7 Access to official student files in relation to student complaints and appeals
a) The Vice-Chancellor and President, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students), the Director Student Services and Engagement, and the Student Ombudsman have authority to access any records relating to student complaints or appeals that are held on official confidential student files.
b) The Vice-Chancellor and President or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor may authorise an employee of the University or appropriately appointed external agent, to access a record relating to a specific student complaint or appeal held on an official confidential student file provided that the Vice-Chancellor and President or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor is satisfied that the access is necessary in order to progress, finalise or implement any actions arising from a student’s complaint or appeal.
2.8 Consultation and Feedback
The University will periodically seek feedback on satisfaction with complaint and appeals processes from complainants, appellants and persons and bodies involved in addressing student complaints. The information will be used only for quality review and improvement purposes.
Figure 1 - Complaints and appeals procedures
|Stage 1:||Complaint received by staff member at a local level These processes are intended to enable resolution of a student’s complaint with minimal delay and minimal administrative formality in appropriate cases.|
A complaint may be made as a Stage 1 complaint:
|Stage 1 Complaint Process|
|Complaint procedure by student||Response by USC officer||USC initial response time|
|a) If the complaint is regarding course content, or a mark for an assessment item (other than a final grade for the course).|
|Student should contact the Course Coordinator.||Course Coordinator.||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|b) Where the complaint relates to a decision or action by a staff member or other person acting for the University in relation to the delivery of a course.|
|Student should make an appointment with the Course Coordinator.||Course Coordinator.||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|c) If a complaint under a) or b) is still not resolved|
|Student must, before pursuing a Stage 2 complaint or Stage 3 appeal, refer the matter to the Course Coordinator or Head of School or Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching (if that person is a different person to the lecturer).||Course Coordinator, or Head of School or Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching.||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|d) Where the complaint relates to a matter in the control of the University that affects the student, other than the delivery of a course.|
|Student should make an appointment with the Director of the administration or service area.||Director of administrative or service area.||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|e) If a complaint under d) is still not resolved.|
|Student must, before pursuing a Stage 2 complaint or Stage 3 appeal, make an appointment with the Director of the administration or service area.||Director of administrative or service area.||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|Stage 1 complaint USC resolution options (include)||USC response time|
|USC officer to act as a facilitator to seek a resolution of the complaint that would be mutually acceptable to all parties;||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|USC officer to arrange for mediation that is mutually acceptable to all parties; and/or||Within 10 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|USC officer to issue an instruction in relation to the complaint provided the officer has reasonable grounds and authority to do so. An official record must be made of any instructions issued, which may be subsequently reviewed as part of any further complaint-handling or appeal process.||Advise the student of the outcome within 5 working days of the instruction being given.|
In making a Stage 1 complaint, students should:
|Stage 2:||Written Complaint to the Executive Dean and/or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor There are two pathways open to a student who wishes to pursue a Stage 2 complaint within the University.|
A complaint may be made as a Stage 2 complaint:
|Stage 2 Complaint Process|
|Complaint procedure by student||Response by USC officer||USC initial response time|
|a) If a Stage 1 complaint has not been resolved.|
|Students may complain in writing to the Executive Dean and/or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.||Executive Dean or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.||As below.|
|b) Where the complaint is in response to an official notification informing the student of a decision of the University that affects the student.|
|Students may complain in writing to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.||Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.||As below.|
|Stage 2 complaint USC initial response - Executive Dean or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor||USC response time|
In dealing with a Stage 2 complaint, USC officers should:
||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|Stage 2 complaint USC response options (1 option to be followed)||USC response time|
|USC officer to request or direct that a review of a decision made by any person or body in the University be undertaken as a matter of priority;||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|USC officer to identify and appoint an investigating officer or body for the complaint;||Within 5 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|USC officer to subject to the agreement of the student and any respondent/s, identify and appoint a trained internal or external mediator; or||Within 10 working days of receipt of complaint.|
|USC officer advise the student to lodge an internal or external appeal in relation to the matter in order to facilitate a final decision on the matter.||Within 5 working days of receipt of a decision being made.|
|Stage 2 complaint USC final response (all actions to be completed)||USC response time|
USC officers to advise:
||Within 5 working days of a decision being made.|
In making a Stage 2 complaint, students:
|Stage 4:||External mediation or appeal|
A complaint may be made as a Stage 4 appeal:
|Stage 4 Appeal Process|
|Appeal procedure by student||Response by USC officer||USC initial response time|
|The student may make a request of the University to arrange an independent external mediation, within 20 working days of receipt of being notified of the outcome of the appeal in Stage 3.||The University will direct such requests to the Director, Student Services and Engagement or the Student Ombudsman.||Within 5 working days of receipt of appeal.|
|Stage 4 appeal USC response – Director, Student Services and Engagement or Student Ombudsman||USC response time|
|Arrange independent external mediation following an internal appeal process, at no cost to the student.||Within 5 Working Days of receipt of the request.|
|Provide students with access to information concerning their rights to lodge an appeal with an appropriate external body and the names and contact details of such bodies.||As required.|
|Stage 4 appeal USC response - Vice-Chancellor and President||USC response time|
|Initiate processes to implement any actions to be taken by the University in order to honour any agreement reached in the mediation; and/or||Within 10 working days of receipt of any mediation agreement.|
|Initiate processes to implement any actions to be taken by the University as a result of any findings by an external appeal body.||Within 10 working days of receipt of any findings or decisions from and external appeal body.|
|Place all documentation on the confidential working file.||On receipt of the appeal.|
In making a Stage 4 appeal, students: