Staff and student FAQs
I am worried I might be penalised or treated unfairly if I make a complaint
All students and staff of the University are bound by the principles and values outlined by the University. This means that you have a right to expect to be treated without bias or fear of retribution.
It is not reasonable for any student or staff member of the University to act in a way that breaches University policy or the law.
Policies that cover behaviour and protection from reprisals include the Student Code of Conduct, Code of Conduct (for staff) (opens in a new window), the Bullying Prevention Guidelines(opens in a new window) and the Bullying Prevention Policy (opens in a new window).
General information about Procedural fairness is contained in the Guidelines on Procedural Fairness and Good Decision-Making PDF, 58.27 KB.
What information am I given when I make a complaint?
When you bring a matter to the CRU you will receive acknowledgement of your concerns in writing (generally by email). This will usually include the name of the person who will be managing your matter and in most cases will advise you of the preliminary steps that will be taken.
You should also be supplied with information about where to get support if you need it.
What are my responsibilities?
We expect that you will represent your matter clearly and honestly, setting out the facts. Complaints that are found to be misleading, frivolous or that appear to be aimed at hurting another party may be dealt with under misconduct proceedings.
We expect you to provide us with any evidence in your possession at the time you make your complaint.
The University encourages a community of mutual respect. Students and staff are expected to conduct themselves in a measured and thoughtful way. Please be mindful of the way you represent yourself when dealing with others.
We understand that you may be feeling upset or distressed. Staff will treat you with openness and respect; however repeated instances of unreasonable behaviour on the phone may result in your call being terminated. Similarly, the use of inappropriate language and/or open disrespect in written communications is not acceptable. The health and wellbeing of our staff is important.
How will I know where my matter is up to? - Progress reports during investigation
When your matter is brought to the CRU we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, generally by email. If you are a student, we must communicate with you via your official Western Sydney University student email account.
Please be aware that a large part of managing your complaint involves seeking information from other areas of the University. The facts and evidence that you provide need to be considered and advice is usually sought from the relevant School or business area to help us make an assessment. We may have questions for you or ask you to provide further information or evidence as part of the process.
You may seek an update from us at any time; however it is important to allow time for our enquiries to proceed. At the conclusion of the investigation you will be given a final outcome in writing.
How long will it take for my complaint to be sorted out?
The timeframe to respond to your complaint will depend on whether it is a complex issue or something that is relatively straightforward. Complaints that have tight timelines (e.g. registration) will be given a high priority.
The CRU handles approximately 400 complaint enquiries every year, half of which will be accepted as complaints for case management by our Unit. While every case is important, we will generally need to give higher priority to matters that are urgent and/or serious. All matters are attended to as quickly as possible.
What about Confidentiality?
All matters that come to the CRU are treated as confidentially as possible. Information is only shared with relevant officers of the University for the purposes of seeking information, advice or assistance to reach a preliminary or final determination. You can speak to your case manager if you have any concerns.
Who will look after my complaint?
Your complaint will be handled by an experienced case manager who will have oversight for assessing all available information against the policies and processes of the University and determining if there has been a breach of policy or procedure.
The case manager is an employee of the University, whose role is independent of the Schools and other Business Units of the University. The case manager does not have responsibility for deciding the outcome of a complaint. In most cases, they will provide information, evidence, reports and recommendations for a decision to the most appropriate person within the University (ie the Head of School, College Dean or Unit Director) who will decided the outcome of your matter.
All complaints that are managed within the CRU will be followed through to conclusion to ensure that the complainant receives an outcome.
What happens if I am not happy with the outcome I have been given?
You may not be happy with the outcome of your complaint, although the University considers it resolved. Complaints are reviewed in accordance with the policies, guidelines and procedures that govern all aspects of the University's business (teaching and learning, research, business practices etc). Some aspects of the University's functions are governed by rules that are set by State and Federal governments. While you may not think that an outcome is right or fair, the University's decisions must comply with the rules. In some cases, there is no room for discretion or for making exceptions.
If you believe that a mistake has been made or that a rule has been unfairly applied, you can take your matter to an External Agency, like the NSW Ombudsman, for review. External Agencies may require you to have completed an internal complaints process before lodging an application with them.
Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone else?
You can make a complaint on behalf of another person provided the person gives express written consent for you to act on their behalf. We are unable to discuss or disclose any information with a third party without permission. This includes parents or siblings of students or members of staff.
We will only accept a written form of consent that is specific to the complaint, ie it must mention:
- the nature of the complaint
- the full name of the person who will act as the representative/agent in the complaints process
- any limitations on the consent (ie time or otherwise)
- the consent must be dated
What if I think someone is involved in fraudulent activity or serious wrongdoing?
If you think a member of staff may be involved in activities that constitute serious wrongdoing like corruption, fraud, maladministration, or a serious breach of policy, the matter may be dealt with as a Whistleblowing Public Interest Disclosure (PID).
You can bring your concerns to the head of the Complaints Resolution Unit (the Associate Director of CRU), or another Public Disclosures Officer in the University, who will assess the matter based on the facts. Matters that are subsequently accepted as a PID will be managed in accordance with the appropriate processes and protections are offered for the person or persons making the disclosure.
Public Interest Disclosures can only be made by staff. Students who have similar concerns must use the complaints process.
The NSW Ombudsman also provides information about reporting serious wrongdoing(opens in a new window) within an organisation.
What will happen to my information?
Any information you provide to assist us with the management of your complaint will be recorded in our Complaints Management System and in TRIM, the University's records management system. The information in these systems is secure, and is managed in accordance with privacy legislation and the NSW State Records Act (1998).
The University has policies on privacy and on the management of university records.
The information you provide to us will not be disclosed to a third party, except for the purposes of managing your complaint or to comply with law.
Disruption to Studies (Special Consideration)
If you have lodged an application for Disruption to Studies Provisions and it has been rejected you can bring it to the CRU if:
- There is evidence that all relevant information was not considered
- There is evidence that the process wasn't followed
- There is substantial new information that hasn't been considered previously
- If your concern doesn't fit one of the above categories then the outcome may be final. However you are entitled to contact the CRU to discuss your concerns.
If you need support you can contact the Student Welfare Service.
If you have lodged a Rule Waiver application it can generally take up to seven working days to be processed (though it may take longer). It is important that you allow sufficient time for the application to be considered and you must wait for the outcome of your application before contacting the CRU. An exception may apply where the application period has been exhausted.
If after attempting to follow up with the relevant academic staff member and the outcome is affecting your ability to study, you can contact the CRU for advice.
Western is in the process of revising Graduation procedures to provide students with a more streamlined process. Students will no longer need to apply to graduate as the system will be progressively conferred once their course is completed and approved. Students will be invited to attend a graduation ceremony after their conferral. The University will communicate with students regularly throughout the process. Graduation documents will be sent via mail once a student has paid for their postage. Students will be invited to graduate at future ceremonies, however the University is still working on how these will be managed during the Covid pandemic.
Further information about graduations is available on the Graduations webpage.
Credit for Prior Learning
If you have applied for Transfer Credit it may take 4 - 6 weeks to be processed. If you have made an application and it is affecting your ability to enrol, you should contact Student Central (opens in a new window) in the first instance. You should refer to the application receipt and the website if the outcome is affecting your ability to register.
If you are unsuccessful in contacting the relevant areas you can contact the CRU for advice.
Progression and exclusion
If you have received a progression warning or an exclusion letter, you would have been given advice on the relevant appeals process (see Academic Appeals Procedures). If the outcome of your appeal been unsuccessful and you believe all relevant information was not considered you can contact the CRU for advice.
Please note, if you have not lodged an appeal, it is unlikely the CRU will be able to accept your matter as a complaint.
If you have applied to the University and you have received advice that your application has been unsuccessful, you should contact the Contact Service Centre on 1300 897 669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An application to transfer programs must be made in accordance with the Program Transfer Policy(opens in a new window).
Information about how to apply for a program transfer is available on the Transferring to a New Program(opens in a new window) page.
If you have applied for a program transfer and have not received a response you should contact the Student Central Infoline 1300 668 370 or email email@example.com for advice.