The complaints process at the University
The Complaint Handling and Resolution 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. The Complaint Handling and Resolution Policy is currently under review.
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 complaint the same or next working day. Our office is staffed during normal business hours, Monday to Friday. Where complaints are lodged over weekends, public holidays and the University’s close down period, they will be acknowledged on the first available business day.
Your complaint will be recorded in our Complaints Handling System and will be allocated to a case manager for preliminary review. In most instances, you will receive the outcome of our preliminary review within twenty working days from the date of acknowledgement. Our case managers will be prioritising your matter in line with their current case load. This means that urgent and serious matters may sometimes take precedence, which can impact on how quickly you will receive an outcome. Action will be taken as promptly as possible, where change is required as an outcome of your complaint.
In managing your complaint, we may need to seek information from other areas of the University. We might need to liaise with a School and/or the Student Experience Office or we may be seeking clarification on a policy or process. 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.
There are three complaint resolution avenues available:
How are Complaints managed at the University?
The Complaint Handling and Resolution 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 and students.
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:
What the Complaints Resolution Unit (CRU) does
The Complaints Resolution Unit is staffed by experienced Case Managers who receive, assess, manage and resolve complaints from students, staff and members of the public. The CRU can provide information on the various avenues available for resolving a complaint.
The Complaint Handling and Resolution 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 Handling System (CHS), a database created for the recording, tracking and management of complaints. We will also acknowledge receipt of your complaint and we will begin our assessment of it within 10 working days.
Where the investigation of a complaint highlights a flaw in the University's processes the CRU 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 Complaints Resolution Unit 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.
- Provide advocacy or mediation. However, we can refer you to these services if they are needed.
- 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.
Ways to resolve a complaint
Can you work it out? - The Direct Informal approach
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) Your issue could be about an Administrative process or about how you feel you have been treated.
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 talk to 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 Complaints Resolution Unit.
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.
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. If you have any evidence or supporting documents, such as emails, letters or photographs to back up your complaint, these should be included.
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 complaint. In the event that you are not able to resolve your matter these things will help the Complaints Resolution Unit in any procedural review.
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 feel distressed about your situation you can get support from Welfare or Counselling staff.
Please note that the Complaints Resolution Unit does not have a role to play in managing your complaint while there is another university process available to you. For example, we cannot look at your grade in a Unit unless you have applied for and received an outcome from the Review of Grade process.
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 Complaints Resolution Unit (opens in a new window) to have your matter reviewed.
Come to the CRU - the Formal Internal approach
You can contact the Complaints Resolution Unit by phone, letter or email, or download and submit our handy 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.
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 - The External Formal approach
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 Direct Informal Avenue or the Formal Internal Avenue first, however some external organisations will not accept a complaint until it has been through an Internal process.
Lodging Complaints via the Formal External Avenue
The complaint must be lodged with the appropriate external organisation, in accordance with that organisations procedures and deadlines. Deadlines may differ from one organisation to the next.
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 Complaints Resolution Unit.
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 Handling System.
Obligations - Procedural Fairness
Where a complainant discloses circumstances that, if true, constitute a serious matter the CRU may be obliged to initiate an investigation, even if it against the complainant's wishes.
You are obliged at all times during the complaint management process 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)