Complaints

If you’ve had a bad experience and levels of teaching, support or service have fallen below what you were led to expect, it is your right to make a complaint. Quite often though complaints are most easily and successfully resolved when there is an attempt to solve them at a grass roots level.

Most organisations want to manage complaints effectively to enable a positive resolution for you and for them i.e. if processes have failed or mistakes have been made, they won’t happen again.

We can support people to raise complaints both within the University and against external companies and organisations. Within the University, we have rights to attend meetings about complaints with you as it is recognised that sometimes making complaints can feel difficult (especially if the complaint relate to issues such as poor supervision or teaching).

If you have any complaints about academic issues or University services, the first route is to try and solve them internally, using University procedures. If at any time you need someone to discuss your issues with, then email an adviser who will be able to listen and provide advice. It is recommended that you take the following steps:

Complaints against the university

The University has made changes to their Complaints and Appeals Procedures. If you are considering making an appeal or a complaint then please make sure you refer to the most up to date and accurate information about them, this can be found on the university website. There you will find the links to the procedures themselves, their supporting documents, and guides.

We can offer free, confidential advice about complaints and appeals. Our advisors can advise about any aspect of the procedures, including the following:

  • They can offer an explanation of how the process of making a complaint or an appeal works, drawing from knowledge of the Complaints Procedure or the Appeals procedure.
  • They can offer advice and help on how to prepare evidence and supporting documentation for your application forms.
  • They can offer support and representation for any panel meetings that a student may wish to attend.

To get in touch with andvisor please contact the Advice and Support Team by emailing advice@lusu.co.uk or calling 01524 5-93765

Office of the independent adjudicator

If you have exhausted the options of the University’s internal complaints procedure, then you have the opportunity of complaining to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). The OIA was set up as an independent body to investigate student complaints and anyone registered as a student, or within three months of graduating, can submit a complaint. Our Education & Support service can offer one to one support with taking a complaint to the OIA. This is especially helpful if we have supported you through proceedings at a University level.

The OIA will hear complaints about a wide range of issues where a University has failed to act or has made an omission. Issues include:

  • Any final decision of the university
  • A service provided by the university
  • Teaching and facilities
  • Student accommodation
  • Research supervision
  • Welfare
  • Discrimination – race, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation or religious belief
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Placements
  • Maladministration
  • Procedural irregularities
  • Unfair practices
  • Disciplinary matters, including plagiarism
  • Fitness to practise issues
  • The scheme offers a simple Complaints Wizard to help you establish whether you can put forward a complaint.
  • The OIA cannot look at:
  • Admissions
  • Academic judgment
  • Student employment
  • Matters which have already been considered by a court or tribunal and where the proceedings have been concluded
  • Matters which are being considered by a court or tribunal where the proceedings have not been
  • stayed
  • Matters considered not to have materially affected the complainant as a student
  • Matters which the OIA has already dealt with

Ordinarily complaints where the main issues complained about took place more than three years before the complaint is received by the OIA

You must have completed all stages of the University Complaints Procedure before you can approach the OIA. You prove this by getting a completion of procedures letter from the University at the end of all proceedings.

Further details are available here, for students wishing to take a complaint to the OIA

Complaints against the students' union

See our complaints procedure page for information on what to do if you're unhappy about something the union has done.

Complaints against third parties

If you feel you need to complain about an item or service you have experienced, there are certain steps which you should go through.

Before you complain

  • Be clear as to what you are complaining about and what you would like the issue to be resolved
  • Collect evidence to support your claim – if you were a third party what would it take to convince you that your claim should be upheld?
  • Make a complaint diary where you write down all communications you have had – who did you speak to? When? What was the outcome?
  • How long have you had an issue – try and complain the sooner the better
  • Check your legal rights

How do I complain?

There are a number of ways to issue a complaint, including face to face, over the phone and by writing letters. It is important that you keep records of all correspondence you have had – including dates, times and people you have spoken to over the phone and any letters you have sent and received.

If you have tried to resolve your complaint over the phone and were unsuccessful, you should follow up with a letter.

For help writing letters, there are a number of templates available. A good place to start is looking at Consumer Direct’s Letter Templates, which have a number of templates for a variety of complaints including faulty goods and poor services.

Complain to your local councillor or MP

Councillors

If you have an issue about the local area or where you live then you would address these to a Councillor. TheLancaster City Council Website has a lot of information about what is going on in the area and who your local Councillor is. Lancaster City Council looks after:

  • Local planning and development control
  • Street cleaning, domestic waste removal (bins)
  • Administering council tax and housing benefit locally
  • Providing council housing and generally promoting good quality housing provision
  • Environmental health and safety
  • Parking enforcement
  • Licensing
  • Promoting economic development and tourism in the area
  • Providing parks and leisure facilities

You also have Councillors at a county level. Lancashire County Council is responsible for:

  • Primary and secondary education,
  • Libraries,
  • Museums,
  • Highways
  • Social services in the Lancaster district

MPs

MPs deal with national issues and central government policies, such as the NHS and Benefits. LUSU and NUS will sometimes run campaigns where we will ask you to lobby your MP about key student issues, such as tuition fees. If you feel you need to contact your MP, they run surgeries in the local area but it is recommended that you write to them at the House of Commons.

  • The current MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood is the right honourable Cat Smith
  • The current MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale is the right honourable David Morris

Further information is available about contacting your MP is available here