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Student Complaints Management Procedures

Purpose

Scope

Principles

Procedural statements

Procedural ownership and support

Definitions

Approval information

PDF version

References

Contact details

1. Purpose

1.1 The purpose of these procedures is to facilitate timely, consistent and fair management of complaints to reasonable resolution by UTS under the authority of the Student Complaints Policy (the policy).

2. Scope

2.1 The scope outlined in the policy applies for these procedures.

2.2 All UTS staff members may receive and attempt to resolve complaints from students about:

  • other UTS students
  • all staff as defined by this policy
  • visitors to UTS
  • agents or other related parties who represent or act on behalf of UTS
  • a faculty or administrative unit
  • an aspect of the physical environment
  • academic or behavioural integrity issues, or
  • an administrative process.

3. Principles

3.1 The principles outlined in the policy apply for these procedures.

3.2 UTS understands that all parties to a student complaint have both rights and responsibilities when engaging in the resolution process.

Student complaints management rights and responsibilities table

At UTS … have a right to … in acting responsibly, must …
All staff
  • respectful treatment
  • support from a manager when taking care of complainants
  • treat all people with respect in line with university policy
  • assist people who wish to access the university’s complaints processes
  • respond to complaints in line with the policy and these procedures
  • provide feedback to the Governance Support Unit (GSU) about complaints management at the university
  • implement outcomes from complaints
Staff who manage or mediate complaints
  • respectful treatment
  • support from a manager when taking care of complaints
  • support from the SCRO when taking care of complaints
  • adhere to the policy and these procedures
Student Complaints Resolution Office (SCRO)
  • respectful treatment
  • adhere to the policy and these procedures
  • provide support, resources and advice to staff who take care of complaints
  • internally review complaints
  • provide advice and support to the university leadership team on individual complaints and complaints management generally

4. Procedural statements

Registering and acknowledging student complaints

4.1 Students may make a complaint to any staff member (in line with the policy) in person, by telephone, email or in hard copy. When making a complaint, it is preferable for complainants to identify themselves rather than remain anonymous to enable resolution. The university will make a reasonable judgement whether or not to investigate an anonymous complaint.

4.2 Details of the complaint and any supporting documentation should be provided to the Student Complaints Resolution Office (SCRO) via email to student.complaints@uts.edu.au. This may be completed by either the student or the staff member with whom the complaint is raised. SCRO will maintain details of the complaint on a central register.

4.3 SCRO will promptly:

  • provide written acknowledgement to the complainant via email (unless another method is specifically requested and deemed appropriate)
  • notify appropriate staff when a complaint has been made by a student and begin assessment of the complaint within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint, and
  • conduct an initial assessment and refer the complaint to the most appropriate staff member for further management and resolution.

4.4 SCRO will normally refer the complaint to the appropriate staff member in closest proximity to the event(s) giving rise to the complaint. Where the complaint is about a staff member, the complaint will be forwarded to their line manager.

4.5 SCRO will provide the appropriate staff member with the complainant’s details (unless the complainant wishes to keep their details confidential or the complaint has been made anonymously), a copy of the complaint and supporting documentation.

4.6 Where the appropriate staff member is a member of the Senior Executive, the Senior Executive may request that the SCRO also refer the complaint to the University Secretary to facilitate the procedure and support the Senior Executive staff member.

Managing student complaints

4.7 When reviewing a complaint, the appropriate staff member is expected to consider:

  • the seriousness, complexity and urgency of the issue(s)
  • potential risks to the health and/or safety of the complainant or respondent
  • whether an external organisation is better placed to take care of the complaint
  • whether other external organisations or bodies can assist to resolve the complaint
  • how best to offer a reasonable and timely resolution to the complaint, and
  • how best to ensure personal information of the complainant is not disclosed to any third party unnecessarily.

4.8 Where appropriate, a copy of the complaint should be provided to the respondent.

4.9 To progress a complaint to a reasonable resolution, the appropriate staff member may:

  • seek further information from the complainant, respondent or a third party
  • refer to relevant policies and procedures, and/or
  • conduct research to inform a reasonable and appropriate resolution in the circumstances of the complaint.

4.10 Students will be given the opportunity (where appropriate) to present their case, and be accompanied and assisted by a support person at any relevant meetings.

4.11 A reasonable resolution must be reached by the policy’s stated timeline as outlined in policy section 4.5. Types of reasonable resolution that may be offered include:

  • referring the complainant to UTS or external support or assistance programs
  • providing an apology
  • specific action requested by the complainant
  • recommending a change to university practice, procedure or policy
  • ceasing the activity about which the complaint has been made
  • changing a decision
  • providing an explanation that addresses the complainant’s concerns
  • providing the complainant with reasons why the complaint will not be taken further.

4.12 In some instances, no further action will be taken in response to the complaint. This situation may occur where:

  • the complaint cannot be substantiated
  • inquiries or action were limited as the complaint was made anonymously
  • a reasonable resolution has been rejected by the complainant, and/or
  • the complainant displays unreasonable complainant conduct that interferes with the ability to offer a reasonable resolution.

4.13 Within 10 working days of the resolution (refer 4.11 and 4.12), students will be informed of the outcome of their complaint, their potential rights to an internal review (which as applicable would be the UTS Student Ombuds Office), their rights to seek an external review, and be given contact details of appropriate review agencies.

4.14 Any internal or external review decision or recommendation in favour of the student will be considered and appropriate action taken as soon as possible. Students will be advised of both the decision and action.

4.15 Where a complainant requests advice or reassurance in relation to the progress of a complaint, this should also be accommodated where it is reasonable to do so.

Internal reviews

4.16 Students may request a review of the outcome of a complaint in line with the policy and any timelines advised by the university.

4.17 Requests are made to SCRO and forwarded to an appropriate staff member or external third-party reviewer (review officer).

4.18 All material relevant to the original complaint, including the results of any enquiries made and the initial response, must be considered as part of the review. The review officer will consider any additional material provided by the complainant in managing the review and may make additional inquiries as necessary.

4.19 The review officer or the SCRO (as appropriate) should advise the complainant in writing of:

  • the outcome of the review
  • the reasons for the proposed outcome
  • their right to take the complaint to an external third party (normally the NSW Ombudsman) and the contact details of the relevant third party.

4.20 Reasonable outcomes of an internal review decision include the following:

  • the results of the original complaint are upheld
  • the results of the original complaint are partially upheld and partially resolved in some other manner, or
  • the results of the original complaint are overturned and a new decision or outcome is determined.

4.21 UTS International (UTSI) will be advised of the outcome of an international student’s complaint following the internal reviews process.

External reviews

4.22 At the conclusion of an internal review process, the complainant will be provided with information about review or appeals rights and processes by any external agency.

4.23 Students should advise the SCRO if they decide to escalate their complaint to an external agency.

4.24 UTSI will be advised of the outcome of an international student’s complaint following the external reviews process.

Records management

4.25 Staff members involved in complaint management or internal review must keep a record of the complaint in accordance with the policy.

4.26 Records of the complaint must be retained including:

  • information relating to the complaint, and supporting documents and evidence
  • any agreed resolution steps and processes (including those made via online messaging, communication or complaints management tools)
  • timelines
  • file notes of telephone conversations
  • rationale for decision-making (to protect the integrity of the process)
  • final outcomes and decisions
  • legal proceedings
  • external impacts or attention, and
  • any review or appeals processes and outcomes.

4.27 Information or documentation that contains the personal information of any third party must only be recorded or retained in line with the Privacy Policy.

Timeliness

4.28 All complaints must be finalised in as timely a manner as possible in line with the policy. The complainant should be notified of a timeframe in which they can expect a response and/or a resolution.

4.29 Where a complaint management process is anticipated to exceed 60 days, the appropriate staff member must advise the complainant of the delay as soon as possible, in line with the requirements of the policy.

Continuous improvement

4.30 Staff members are expected to provide information to the university and the SCRO about opportunities to improve the systems, services, processes or facilities relevant to the area of the complaint.

Monitoring and reporting

4.31 SCRO is responsible for monitoring and reporting on complaints and escalating emerging or systemic issues. Regular reports will be made to the Senior Executive on trends, volume, resourcing and risks in line with the policy.

4.32 For international students, the above procedure is in line with Standard 10 in the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code).

5. Procedural ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner: The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) in consultation with the Director, Governance Support Unit (GSU) is responsible for the approval, enforcement of and compliance with these procedures in line with the policy. The Director, GSU is also responsible for the approval of guidelines to support staff in implementing these procedures.

5.2 Policy contact: The Senior Advisor, Student Complaints in the Student Complaints Resolution Office is responsible for the implementation of these procedures and for coordinating the activities of the Student Complaints Resolution Office in GSU.

6. Definitions

6.1 The definitions outlined in this section and in the policy apply for these procedures.

Respondent means a person(s) subject to a complaint.

Review Officer means:

  • the Senior Advisor, Student Complaints
  • a senior UTS staff member, or
  • an external third-party reviewer who has had no previous involvement with the complainant or the complaint.

Approval information

Policy contact Senior Advisor, Student Complaints
Approval authority Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students)
Review date mid-2020
File number UR19/1511
Superseded documents Handling Student Complaints Procedures for Managers 2004 (UR07/633)

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) 24/06/2019 22/07/2019 New procedures
1.1 Director, Governance Support Unit 10/10/2019 28/11/2019 Additional clarification of policy requirements including for overseas (international) students.

PDF version

Student Complaints Management Procedures (PDF)

References

Student Complaints Policy

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018

NSW Ombudsman

Privacy Policy

Contact details

Student Complaints Resolution Office (SCRO): student.complaints@uts.edu.au

UTS International