Compliments, complaints, feedback or student grievances - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Compliments, complaints, feedback or student grievances

Throughout your time as a student with USC, there may be matters that you need to bring to our attention. You have a right to be heard on matters that impact upon your student experience.

Our grievances and feedback processes provide a simple way for you to give us the information needed so that we can respond to, or act upon, what you have to say with a view to finding resolution.

Grievances and feedback provides USC with information that can be used to measure and improve the quality of the student experience.

Grievances are matters students are concerned about which may negatively affect student studies or student life. Our policies and procedures provide a framework within which to manage and resolve grievances. 

Categories of student grievances

USC has two categories of student grievances:

  1. student grievances these follow the Student Grievances – Procedures

Student grievances relate to administrative decisions, problems or concerns about their treatment as a student, quality or delivery of a service provided by USC, conduct of staff or conduct of other students.

  1. student review and appeals these follow the Student Review and Appeals - Procedures

Student review and appeals are student grievances related to University decisions that include final grades, substantiated findings of student general misconduct or student academic misconduct.

A flowchart outlining the grievance processes can be downloaded here.

You should familiarise yourself with the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy and any other relevant policies and procedures related to their grievance by using the links provided for each grievance type below.

Administrative decision

Administrative decisions include decisions you are wanting the university to make, or decisions the University has made that you disagree with. They include matters such as program advice, enrolments, graduation, deferred examinations, fees and class timetable.

Step 1 You are encouraged to contact the person who made the decision initially to attempt to resolve the grievance informally under Step 1.

Step 2 If your grievance is unable to be resolved during Step 1 or if you do not wish to participate in the informal process, you can choose to submit a formal grievance by submitting the online form for Step 2.

Step 3 Students who are not satisfied with the handling of a grievance under Step 2, may be able to apply for a review of the decision Step 3 Review. The decision letter from the Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 Review.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Program, course and teaching quality

Step 1 You are encouraged to contact the person concerned initially to attempt to resolve the grievance informally under Step 1.

Step 2 If your grievance is unable to be resolved during Step 1 or if you do not wish to participate in the informal process, you can choose to submit a formal grievance by submitting the online form for Step 2.

Step 3 Students who are not satisfied with the handling of a grievance under Step 2, may be able to apply for a review of the decision Step 3 Review. The decision letter from the Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 Review.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Bachelor Honours Degrees or Higher Degree by Research (HDR)

Step 1 If you are a Bachelor Honours or HDR student experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your enrolment or program of study, you are encouraged discuss the problems with your Supervisor first under Step 1.

Step 2 If your grievance is unable to be resolved during Step 1 or if you do not wish to participate in the informal process, you can choose to submit a formal grievance by submitting the online form for Step 2. Submit a grievance about your Bachelor Honours or HDR study.

Step 3 Students who are not satisfied with the handling of a grievance under Step 2, may be able to apply for a review of the decision (Step 3). The decision letter from the Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 review.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

Conduct of staff or students (discrimination, bullying, harassment, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault)

USC understands that these matters can be very sensitive and difficult to discuss. Therefore, Step 1 and Step 2 under the Student Grievances - Procedures may not be appropriate for grievances related to sexual assault, sexual harassment, assault, harassment, bullying or discrimination.

USC offers all students who want to talk about an experience (of sexual assault, sexual harassment, assault, harassment, bullying or discrimination) a trauma informed approach whilst providing a student with choice and control (as far as is reasonable) when hearing any of these matters. The process is outlined under the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Respectful Relationships – Procedures, and it is aligned with the Student Grievances - Procedures.

Disclosure to report to USC

Students who have experienced any of these behaviours can contact the SafeUSC Specialist Service via Student Wellbeing on 07 5430 1226 or make a report online. The SafeUSC Specialist Service may assist you with a range of supports such as learning adjustments, protective and supportive measures if required. For after-hours support, contact the SafeUSC Team on 07 5430 1168 or email safe@usc.edu.au.

You may also choose to make anonymous or third-party disclosures through the University’s SASH portal, however, the University may be limited in its ability to investigate or respond to these disclosures.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

USC Campus and transport services

If you are dissatisfied with USC facilities, non-academic services (e.g. catering, car parking, intercampus bus etc.) or would like to report faults with amenities or equipment you may want to raise a grievance.

Step 1 You may choose to raise the issue informally under Step 1. This usually involves approaching a front-line representative of the service area directly or consulting with Student Wellbeing.

Step 2 If your grievance is unable to be resolved during Step 1 or if you do not wish to participate in the informal process, you can choose to submit a formal grievance by submitting the below online form for Step 2.

Step 3 If you are not satisfied with the handling of their grievance under Step 2, a review of the decision may be applied for by submitting the below online form for Step 3. The decision letter from the Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 Review.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Online form for Step 2 and 3 is available here.

WIL (includes Clinical Placements, Practicums, SPE, Internships, Field Education, Projects etc.)

You may be dissatisfied with a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placement related to the course content/delivery, a decision or action by a staff member (or other person acting for the University) or your placement allocation.

Step 1 You are encouraged to contact the staff member who made the decision to attempt to resolve the grievance informally under Step 1.

Step 2 If your grievance is unable to be resolved during Step 1 or if you do not wish to participate in the informal process, you can choose to submit a formal grievance by submitting the online form for Step 2.

Step 3 Students who are not satisfied with the handling of a grievance under Step 2, may be able to apply for a review of the decision (Step 3). The decision letter from the Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 Review.

Note: If you are seeking a review of assessment result related to a WIL Placement, please refer to the Review of Assessment and Final Grade – Procedures and lodge a grievance under either the 'Assessments' or 'Final Mark/Grade' grievance tabs.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

The student grievances process has two or three required steps depending on the category of grievance (as specified in Table 1 of Schedule A of the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy):

Step 1: Resolve the grievance informally;

Step 2: Make a formal grievance; and

Step 3: Review of decision.

When you, as a student, raises a grievance you may be seeking:

  • an apology;
  • correction of an error in relation to you or your student record;
  • a decision by the University; and/or
  • improvement of existing services and/or processes.

The outcomes of Step 1 may include:

  • resolution of the grievance;
  • with further knowledge of the circumstances, you choose to not submit a formal grievance; or
  • you submit a formal grievance (Step 2).

The outcomes of Step 2 may include the decision maker undertaking one or more of the following actions:

  • correcting an error in relation to you or your student record;
  • making a decision that may or may not be in your favour;
  • rejecting the grievance as unsubstantiated, without grounds, frivolous or vexatious;
  • making a commitment to review and improve existing services and processes;
  • issuing an explanation or apology; or
  • referring the grievance as an allegation of misconduct for investigation under the Student Conduct – Governing Policy or Staff Code of Conduct – Governing Policy.

Students who are not satisfied with the handling of a grievance under Step 2, may be able to apply for a review of the decision (Step 3). The decision letter from Step 2 grievance will outline if there is an avenue to submit a Step 3 Review. You will need to outline your reasons for the review in your application and provide any supporting evidence. It is not sufficient for you to assert circumstances, performance or changes to circumstances without some evidence to substantiate or support your claims.

The outcomes of Step 3 may include the decision maker undertaking one or more of the following actions:

  • upholding in its original form the Step 2 outcome;
  • recommending an alternative action to assist with the resolution of the complaint; and
  • recommending actions and improvements to the responsible officer of the University Executive to address systemic issues arising from the review of a grievance.

Please use the links above in the relevant dropdown boxes to submit your Step 2 Formal Grievance or Step 3 Review.

For assistance in understanding the University's policies and procedures, you may contact the Student Ombudsman.

Personal information held by the University is collected and managed in a responsible, secure manner, and will not be released to third parties without your consent, unless required by law.

In all matters, the University will make decisions in a way consistent with the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

USC will not tolerate students being disadvantaged or penalised for having submitted a formal grievance. There are consequences for any type of retribution or retaliation by a USC staff member or a USC student. Any behaviour of this nature should be immediately reported to Student Wellbeing as per the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy. A grievance found to be vexatious will be dismissed by USC. Making a vexatious grievance may constitute misconduct under the Student Conduct – Governing Policy.

 

Assessments

The Review of Assessment and Final Grade - Procedures should be read in conjunction with the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures.

Step 1 You can seek to resolve the grievance informally under Step 1 by contacting the assessor directly.

Step 2 If you believe that an assessment task (other than a final mark/grade) has been unfairly or incorrectly marked, you can lodge a Step 2 Review. You will need to provide some evidence or information to support your assertions. A Step 2 Review will usually go to the course coordinator or program coordinator for consideration. The reviewer will not be the person who marked your assessment previously.

Step 3 There is no Step 3 Appeal avenue available for assessment mark grievances. However, there may be an opportunity to submit a review of final grade once the final grade is released.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Credit transfer

The Credit Transfer - Procedures should be read in conjunction with the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures.

Step 1 You can seek to resolve the grievance informally under Step 1 by contacting the Program Director.

Step 2 If the matter is unable to be resolved under Step 1, you may be eligible to seek a Step 2 Review.

Step 3 If you are not satisfied with a review decision (Step 2 decision), or the way in which the review was handled, you may lodge a Step 3 Appeal. The appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal and supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

Exclusion (Show Cause) Appeal - Undergraduate

If you have received a MAP Stage 3 notification (or Show Cause notice) under the Monitoring Academic Progress – Procedures, you will be provided with an opportunity to provide a response on why you should not be excluded.

Step 1 There are no avenues for Step 1, progress straight to Step 2.

Step 2 Your response to this Show Cause notice is considered a Step 2 Review application under the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures.

Step 3 If after submitting your show cause response, you received notification that you are to be excluded for a period of 12 months or more, then you may choose to submit a Step 3 Appeal setting out the grounds for appeal (this may include relevant factors that were not taken into account, additional information not provided with your Show Cause response or procedural errors). You must provide or attach evidence to support any claims in your appeal. Lodge a Step 3 appeal against exclusion.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

Exclusion (Show Cause) Appeal – Higher Degrees by Research

If you have received a Show Cause invitation under the Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures, you will be provided with an opportunity to provide a response on why your candidature should not be discontinued.

Step 1 You may choose to discuss the show cause notice with your supervisor before submitting your response under Step 2.

Step 2 Your response to a Show Cause notice is considered a Step 2 Review application under the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures. HDR Students who are responding to a Show Cause Invitation  should use the online Grievance Resolution form to submit their response.

Step 3 If after submitting your show cause response, you received notification that your candidature is being discontinued, then you may submit a Step 3 Appeal setting out the grounds for appeal (this may include relevant factors that were not taken into account, additional information not provided with your Show Cause response or procedural errors). You must provide or attach evidence to support any claims in your appeal. HDR Students should use the online Grievance Resolution form to submit their Step 3 Appeal.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Final mark/grade

The Review of Assessment and Final Grade - Procedures should be read in conjunction with the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures.

Step 1 You are encouraged to informally resolve your grievance by contacting your Course Coordinator regarding your final grade under Step 1.

Step 2 If the matter is unable to be resolved under Step 1, you may be eligible to seek a Step 2 Review of your final mark/grade for a course. The Review of Assessment and Final Grade – Procedures outlines the valid grounds for review. Access the online Application for Review of Final Grade form.

Step 3 If you are not satisfied with a review decision (Step 2 decision), or the way in which the review was handled, you may lodge a Step 3 Appeal. The appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal and supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Scholarships

An unsuccessful applicant or a scholarship holder may seek a review of a decision related to the scholarship.

Step 1 You may choose to discuss the scholarship decision with Student Central before submitting your response under Step 2.

Step 2 If the matter is unable to be resolved under Step 1, you may be eligible to seek a Step 2 Review of the scholarship decision.

Step 3 If you are not satisfied with a review decision (Step 2 decision), or the way in which the review was handled, you may lodge a Step 3 Appeal. The appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal and supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

Student Academic Misconduct

If you have received a substantiated finding of student academic misconduct you may want to raise a grievance about the finding or the penalty.

Step 1 Review the Student Misconduct – Procedures and contact the original decision maker to understand the original decision or clarify the penalty.

Step 2 You may consider lodging a Step 2 Review against the finding and/or the penalty. The review application must contain the grounds for the review and supporting evidence. If the original decision maker was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), you are unable to seek a Step 2 Review, however, you may consider lodging a Step 3 Appeal see below.

Step 3 If the matter is unable to be resolved during Step 2, or if Step 2 is not available, you may be eligible to seek a Step 3 Appeal. The appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal and supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

Student General Misconduct

If you have received a substantiated finding of student general misconduct you may want to raise a grievance about the finding or the penalty.

Step 1 Review the Student Misconduct – Procedures and contact the original decision maker to understand the original decision or clarify the penalty.

Step 2 There are no avenues for a Step 2 Review.

Step 3 You may consider lodging a Step 3 Appeal against the finding and/or the penalty. The appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal and supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

Responsible Research Conduct

In accordance with the Managing and Investigating Breaches of Responsible Research Conduct - Procedures, HDR students who wish to request a review of their research conduct investigation outcome are required to follow the processes outlined in the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy.

One option is to lodge a Step 2 Review against the finding and/or the penalty. Please note that if the original decision maker was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), you are unable to seek a review. However, if the matter is unable to be resolved during Step 2, or if Step 2 is not available, you may be eligible to seek a Step 3 Appeal ensuring you have grounds for the appeal and can provide supporting evidence.

Relevant policies and procedures:

 

The student review and appeals process has two or three required steps depending on the category of grievance (as specified in Table 2 of Schedule A of the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy):

Step 1: Understand the decision;

Step 2: Review the decision; and

Step 3: Appeal the decision.

When you, as a student,  lodge a review or appeal, you are usually seeking:

  • the original decision to be set aside; and/or
  • the original decision to be amended.

Step 2 Review and Step 3 Appeal requests must explain the grounds for the review or appeal and supporting evidence. Grounds for review or appeal include one or more of the following:

  • relevant factors that the original decision did not take into account
  • new relevant information
  • procedural errors.

It will not be sufficient for you to assert circumstances, performance or changes to circumstance without some evidence to substantiate or support your claims. This means for example, that if you felt sick, or if you were in a car accident, that you provide documentation, for instance a medical certificate, or a police record of the accident, as proof of what happened. If the review or appeal submission seems to have no reasonable grounds, or lacks appropriate evidence to support the grievance, USC will advise you that your application cannot be progressed unless further information is provided.

The decision maker of a Step 2 Review or Step 3 Appeal may:

  • deem the application to be invalid;
  • set aside the decision;
  • affirm the decision; or
  • amend the original decision.

Please use the links above in the relevant dropdown boxes to submit your Step 2 Review or Step 3 Appeal.

A flowchart of this process can be downloaded here.

The University guarantees that students submitting formal grievances will not be penalised or disadvantaged as a result of having submitted a grievance in good faith and with the intention of seeking resolution.

For assistance in understanding the University's policies and procedures, you may contact the Student Ombudsman.

Personal information held by the University is collected and managed in a responsible, secure manner, and will not be released to third parties without your consent, unless required by law.

In all matters, the University will make decisions in a way consistent with the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

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