The complaints process at the University

The Complaint Management Policy explains how the University deals with complaints from staff, students and the public. It covers complaints about decisions made within the University, as well as the behaviour of its staff and students.

Links to legislation, policies, procedures and guidelines and other electronic publications are available under the Associated Documents tab(opens in a new window).

Complaints are managed using a fair, objective and confidential process that aims to achieve resolution in a timely manner at the lowest possible level.

The time it takes to resolve your complaint will vary depending on how complex and/or serious the matter is.

We will normally acknowledge receipt of your email the same or next working day. Our Unit is staffed during normal business hours, Monday to Friday. Where emails are lodged over weekends, public holidays and the University’s close down period, they will be acknowledged on the first available business day.

Matters are allocated to a case manager for preliminary assessment and triaged according to urgency of outcome in line with our current case load. All matters are recorded in our Complaints Management System.

You will receive written advice of the outcome of your complaint as soon as possible and not normally more than 20 working days after lodging it. The written advice will include the reason or reasons for the outcome.

Action will be taken as promptly as possible, where change is required as an outcome of your complaint.

In managing a complaint, we may need to seek information from other areas of the University. This may include seeking clarification on a policy or process or contacting the people or areas that are the subject of the complaint. We are aware that in some cases, a complaint will be deemed urgent due to a deadline, such as Census date or graduation. Where the outcome of your complaint has significant implications we will take all reasonable measures to mitigate against disadvantage.


How are Complaints managed at the University?

The Complaint Management Policy (opens in a new window) explains how the University deals with complaints from staff, students and the public. It covers complaints about decisions made within the University, as well as the behaviour of staff, students, contractors or agents.

Links to legislation, policies, procedures and guidelines and other electronic documents are available under the Associated Documents tab(opens in a new window).

Complaints are managed using a fair, objective and confidential process that aims to achieve resolution in a timely manner.

There are three complaint resolution avenues available:

  • Informal resolution - where the complainant takes their complaint up directly with the respondent
  • Internal review - where the complaint is lodged with and investigated by the University
  • External review - where the complaint is lodged and investigated by an external organisation

What the Complaints Resolution Unit (CRU) does

Our Unit is staffed by experienced Case Managers who receive, assess, manage and resolve complaints. We can provide information on the various avenues available for resolving a complaint.

The complaint management process has been put in place to provide a clear framework that ensures matters can be investigated where no other procedure is in place, or where other processes, have been exhausted.

Complaints will be decided based on the facts available at the time and will be made in line with established policy and process. It is expected that all relevant information will be submitted at the time the complaint is made.

The case manager will consider the matter as quickly as possible and may seek other information, advice or assistance to reach a preliminary or final decision.

Regardless of the outcome, all complaints lodged with the CRU will be recorded in the University's record management system (TRIM) and the Complaint Management System, a database used for the recording, tracking and managing complaints. We will also acknowledge receipt of your complaint and we will begin our preliminary review within 10 working days.

Where the investigation of a complaint highlights a flaw in the University's processes we may make recommendations to the relevant area for improvement.

If your complaint is not upheld, we will provide you with information on any further right of appeal, including to external organisations such as the NSW Ombudsman.

The information you provide to us will be treated confidentially and will not be disclosed to a third party other than for the purpose of managing your complaint or to comply with law. We expect that you will maintain confidentiality also.

What the CRU doesn't do

The CRU does not:

  • Make decisions about academic matters. These decisions are only able to be made by relevant academic staff or under academic processes. The awarding of marks and grades, applications for advanced standing and eligibility for progression are not able to be reviewed by the CRU unless you believe that you have been unfairly treated and that there is evidence of bias or wrongdoing.
  • Find evidence to support your complaint. It is up to you to provide information that supports your complaint.
  • Investigate complaints that are more than six months old, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Provide personal support, although we will link you to counsellors or other support staff if needed.
  • Provide advocacy or mediation. However, we can refer you to these services if they are needed.

Ways to resolve a complaint

Can you work it out? - Informal Resolution

All of the information you need about the University's rules and processes is contained in our policies and procedures.(opens in a new window)

If you are unhappy with a decision that has been made or the way someone has behaved, you should talk directly with the person concerned wherever possible. If you are not comfortable doing that, you can contact their supervisor or ask a member of staff you trust for advice. If you're not sure about who to contact you can ask for advice from the CRU.

If you are reporting a sexual offence you do not have to approach or contact the alleged offender. Information about sexual offences is available on our website or on the University's Respect.Now.Always webpage.

Step 1

It is a good idea to put your complaint in writing, stating the facts clearly in date order. Include any steps you have taken to try and resolve things. You must include any evidence or supporting documents, such as emails, letters or photographs to back up your complaint.

Statements like "my lecturer discriminated against me" or "I wasn't happy with the way the tutorial was run" are not sufficient grounds to make a complaint. You will need to be able to show what circumstances or events have led to your complaint or how you have been affected.

Keep a copy of all documents and emails for your own records and make note of phone calls that relate to resolving your concerns. In the event that you are not able to resolve your matter these things will help us in any procedural review.

Step 2

Most issues that are to do with university studies can be informally resolved by approaching your Unit Coordinator, Director of Academic Program, the School Administrative staff or Student Central. If you are not sure who you should contact, look at the Useful Links page for some guidance.

Things to include when contacting someone about your complaint:

  • your student identification number
  • your full name
  • your telephone number
  • your current address (where correspondence should be sent to you)
  • if your complaint is about a course or unit, state the name of course/unit
  • the name of the campus where you are studying or working
  • a brief overview of your complaint, including relevant facts
  • details or evidence that backs up your complaint
  • what outcome or remedy you are wanting

When contacting staff about your complaint, be aware of your own behaviour. Being calm and courteous will help staff to listen to your concerns. If you are a student, you must use your designated student email account for all correspondence with the University.

If you feel distressed about your situation you can get support from Welfare or Counselling staff.

Please note that we do not have a role to play in managing your complaint while there is another university process available to you.

Step 3

You have tried to resolve your matter and have been through the university processes relating to your complaint or your complaint is about a serious matter. If you still feel there is an issue you can approach the CRU (opens in a new window) to have your matter reviewed.

Come to the CRU - Internal Review

You can contact us by phone or email, or download and submit our complaint form (DOCX, 222.53 KB)(opens in a new window). The complaint form will help you to define what the problem is, and will tell us what you have already done to try and resolve it. It will also guide you in the types of information needed to support your complaint.

If you believe that your matter is of a serious or urgent nature, please contact the CRU (opens in a new window) directly for guidance.

You are able to take your complaint to an external agency at any time; however we would appreciate the opportunity to resolve the matter first.

Other Avenues - External Review

In this avenue, a complaint is lodged with and investigated by an external organisation. Complaints can be lodged with external organisations at any time, subject to the procedures of the particular organisation.

Complainants are not required to use the University's internal complaints process first, however some external organisations will not accept a complaint until it has been through an internal process.

Lodging Complaints with an External Organisation

The complaint must be lodged with the appropriate external organisation, in accordance with that organisation's procedures and deadlines. Deadlines may differ with each organisation.

There are a number of external organisations that deal with complaints. If a complainant does not know which external organisation to contact they may seek advice from the CRU.

Once a complaint has been lodged with an external organisation the University will normally suspend any internal investigation until such time as the external organisation has completed its investigation and submitted all reports related to its findings.

Complainants should be aware that external organisations will normally notify the University when they receive a complaint and will ask the University to respond. When the University becomes aware that a complaint has been lodged with an external organisation it will record the complaint in the Complaints Management System.

Obligations - Procedural Fairness

Where a complainant discloses circumstances that, if true, constitute a serious matter we may be obliged to initiate an investigation, even if it is against the complainant's wishes.

We expect you to treat staff with dignity and respect and to comply with the requirements of the Code of Conduct (opens in a new window) and/or Student Code of Conduct(opens in a new window) at all times during the complaint management process. General information about procedural fairness is contained in the Guidelines on Procedural Fairness and Good Decision-Making.

Appeals

If you have been given a decision on a matter and want advice on avenues for appeal, you can access the University's Academic Appeals Procedures PDF, 100.91 KB or contact us for more information.

Forms

We strongly encourage you to use the complaint form to submit your complaint.

If you would like to give the University some feedback about any aspect of your experience please use the feedback form. Feedback will generally be forwarded to the relevant area for consideration.