HE Student Complaints Policy
- 1.1. BAJ is committed to high standards of service and the quality of teaching and learning. BAJ’s focus at all times is to ensure students have a positive and rewarding experience. However, it is accepted that students may have complaints relating to their course or the services and facilities provided. BAJ takes such complaints seriously and will deal with them without recrimination and in a confidential manner in accordance with the policy.
- 1.2. This policy, in consultation with the HE Academic Board has been designed to:
- Reflect the principles of justice.
- Be transparent and involve timely resolution of complaints.
- Include procedures for independent review and decision making.
- Encourage the resolution of the complaint at a local level.
- Act to improve the student experience.
- 2.1. The purpose of the policy is to ensure that BAJ adheres to the requirements and expectations outlined by best practice guidance from Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (SPA), the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (QAA), Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidelines. It also recognises the demands of higher education and the importance of the student experience and ongoing enhancement.
- 2.2. It is our policy to deal as quickly as possible with any complaint a student may have about their treatment by a fellow student; or one of our employees, services or departments. The purpose of this procedure is to give students an opportunity to sort out any such problem. We will resolve complaints at the earliest possible stage in the procedure and make every effort to do so informally. However, some complaints may be difficult to deal with informally and a student may wish to make a formal complaint. This should only be done once they have exhausted the informal route. Clear lines of communication are published to students on Canvas and in the student handbook.
- 2.3. The Complaint Process should be summarised as:
- Early resolution – Informal procedures, which follow our lines of communication process and this, means that the student addresses issues with his/her Course Leader in the first instance for example.
- Stage 1 – Making a formal complaint.
- Stage 2 – Requesting an internal review: necessary if a student is unhappy with the resolution/findings from Stage 1.
- Stage 3 – Requesting external review: Involvement of the Awarding Body and/or OIA – necessary if a student is unhappy with the internal resolution/findings from Stage 2 by the institution.
- 3.1. This policy covers all higher education provision operating through the British Academy of Jewellery (BAJ). It is to be followed by students regardless of the awarding body.
- 3.2. Academic appeals are not complaints and should be managed through the BAJ HE Academic Appeal Policy published on the BAJ website.
- 3.3. An academic appeal as defined by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), is a “request for a review of a decision of an academic body charged with making decisions on admission, student progress, assessment and awards”. This relates to appeals against the decision of an Assessment Panel, Awards Board, or progression decisions. Matters, which may be dealt with by means of Academic Appeals or other regulations relating to courses of study or the assessment thereof, shall not be dealt with by means of this policy.
- 3.4. A complaint as defined by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), “is an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more students about a provider’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the provider”.
- 3.5. If an applicant or student raises a complaint or academic appeal which does not fall neatly into the category of either a complaint or an academic appeal or if their concern contains issues of complaint and an academic appeal, BAJ will advise them which issues will be looked at under which procedure. This will be irrespective of which procedure has been used to formally raise a concern.
- 3.6. If an applicant or student submits a complaint and academic appeal, the process investigating one may be suspended pending the completion of another. BAJ may decide to consider all matters together particularly if, for example, the findings of a complaint are likely to influence a decision regarding an appeal.
- 3.7. Examples of complaints include (but are not restricted to):
- Complaints in respect of a student’s educational experience.
- Complaints concerning discrimination on grounds of gender, race, disability, creed or ethnic origin etc.
- Complaints on grounds of maladministration.
- 3.8. Students have the right to escalate a complaint for external review to the Awarding Body (if it relates to the academic standards and/or quality of the learning opportunity), and/or the OIA, if, after exhausting the BAJ internal procedures, they remain dissatisfied.
4. Related documents
- Accrediting/Awarding Body Academic Regulations (e.g. KU, Pearson etc.)
- Centre devised policies for:
- BAJ Rules, Regulations and Procedures (this policy aligns with the process included or KU awarded provision)
- Higher Education Student Charter
- BAJ Terms and Conditions of Admissions and Enrolment
- BAJ HE Tuition Fee and Refund Policy
- BAJ HE Academic Appeal Policy
- Appendix 1 CS1 Form – Stage 1 Student Complaints Form
- Appendix 2 CS2 Form – Stage 2 Student Complaints Form
- BAJ Visitors, Customers and Stakeholders Complaints Policy
- 5.1. Complaints will not be considered formal unless appropriate CS1/CS2 forms are completed. These are available from Student Services and need to be emailed to BAJComplaints@baj.ac.uk.
- 5.2. Complaints should be completed by the individual concerned. Correspondence or phone calls from others will not be considered unless BAJ has received written/signed authorisation from the complainant that the third party intends to act on their behalf.
- 5.3. Where the issues raised affect a number of students, those students can submit a concern or complaint as a ‘group concern/complaint’. In such circumstances, in order to manage the progression of the concern or complaint, the group must nominate one student to act as group representative. BAJ will deal with the nominated representative only and will expect them to liaise with the other students.
- 5.4. BAJ will not accept anonymous complaints. Anonymous complaints do not allow for an effective investigation to be conducted and a resolution reached. Normally therefore, no action will be taken where a complaint is submitted anonymously. However, BAJ reserves the right to exceptionally investigate an anonymous complaint where this is deemed appropriate.
- 5.5. Responsibilities and time frames for response and action by the student and BAJ.
- Early resolution – HE Course Leader/Head of Academy HE.
- Stage 1 – Making a formal complaint: Head of Academy HE of BAJ (or nominee) – Investigate the informal complaint (allowance of 20 working days on receipt of CS1). The complaint must be made within 3 calendar months of the first incident or event.
- Stage 2 – Requesting an internal review: Principal (or nominee) – will undertake the Formal Stage (20 working days on receipt of CS2). The CS2 should be submitted within 20 working days of the date that the CS1 was concluded. In considering the CS2 the complaint will not be reinvestigated but will review:
- The procedures were followed at the previous stage.
- Whether the outcome was reasonable.
- New material that the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process.
- Stage 3 – Requesting external review: Once the internal procedures are completed the student has the right to refer the complaint to the Awarding Body and or Office of the Independent Adjudicator. Details of how to refer your complaint to the OIA are available here: oiahe.org.uk/students/how-to-complain-to-us/.
- 5.6. It should be noted that the complaint must be heard and addressed within 90 calendar days.
6. Risk Analysis
- 6.1. This policy is required to ensure that correct procedures are in place and documented by all involved in the handling of complaints, both formal and informal, for higher education students.
Analyse risks of non-adherence to this policy
- 6.2. Poor student satisfaction and impact on annual return from OIA. Poor external stakeholder perception and potential financial cost and compensation. Failure to demonstrate effective enhancement. Failure to achieve a positive outcome from a Higher Education Review and the likelihood of additional scrutiny.
Staff training needed
- 6.3. Initial and refresher training to be made available to staff.
7. Data protection
- 7.1. BAJ complies with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation Data Protection Act, 2018. As such, applicants’ and student data are treated as confidential by all staff involved in this process and are not divulged unnecessarily or inappropriately. However, the aforementioned Act requires BAJ to release certain information to UK authorities upon request in order to assist those authorities with the prevention and detection of fraud or other crimes. We will release the requested information on receipt of an appropriate request from UK authorities such as (but not limited to) the police, Home Office (for immigration and related matters), local authorities, and the Department for Work and Pensions. We may use anonymised data collected as part of an individual’s application and enrolment for fulfilling statistical and reporting requirements.
Early resolution stage
- 8.1. Students are encouraged to follow the lines of communication (see the final page of this policy) published in handbooks. This is also found in the Virtual Learning Environment and explained to students during induction. Initial concerns must be discussed with the Course Leader or Head of Academy HE. These staff understand the student’s circumstances, programme of study, and are often best placed to resolve issues quickly.
- 8.2. Applicants are encouraged to contact BAJ Student Services to resolve the issue informally if they have concerns that the standard of service received has fallen below the standard that might reasonably be expected.
- 8.3. The Head of Academy HE will ensure that a response is sent to the complainant within 10 working days of receipt. In some circumstances, the enquiry may extend to giving all parties an opportunity to be heard and if it is substantiated in whole or part, act to correct the situation. From time to time, a complaint may require extensive investigation, which cannot be completed within 10 days. In such cases, a letter/email is to be sent by the Head of Academy HE to the complainant keeping them informed of progress.
- 8.4. If the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, then they should move to Stage 1 (below). Any member of staff dealing with a dispute from a student should recommend the student proceed to Stage 1 if a satisfactory resolution cannot be agreed or if the staff member in any way feels it would be unprofessional to continue informally.
Stage 1 – Making a formal complaint (CS1 form submitted by the student)
- 8.5. Applicants should complete a CS1 form. This must be done within 3 months of the first incident. Complainants may be offered support in order to make their complaint. A member of the Academic Office can provide this support (HEStudentServices@baj.ac.uk).
- 8.6. The complainant will receive an acknowledgement of the complaint within 5 working days and an investigation will be conducted. The acknowledgement will explain the steps to be taken, how long the process is expected to take and any further information required.
- 8.7. The complaint will be investigated by the Head of Academy HE (or nominees) unless they are cited within the complaint, and findings presented within 20 working days. The individual concerned may be contacted for further information. A student can request to attend meetings or interviews with a representative from the student body, parent or guardian. Due to data protection, we do however communicate only with the student/complainant. The Academic Office securely holds all case paperwork.
- 8.8. The complaint will be judged upheld, partially upheld or not upheld based on the findings. The Head of Academy HE or nominee sends a Completion of Procedures Letter to the student, and a copy to the Academic Office (for recording and monitoring purposes), if after 20 working days of the findings, no further response is received.
- 8.9. If a resolution cannot be found, the student or a representative (who must have permission from the student to act on their behalf) must proceed to Stage 2 and submit a CS2 form within 20 working days of receipt of the CS1 outcome letter.
Stage 2 – Requesting an internal review (CS2 form submitted by the student)
- 8.10. If once the complaint receives the CS1 outcome letter, they do not consider that BAJ has dealt with their complaint in a reasonable manner, they can invoke the internal review stage by submitting a CS2 form. This must be submitted within 20 working days of receipt of the CS1 outcome. Complainants may be offered support in order to make their complaint. A member of the Student Support Team can provide this support.
- 8.11. Within the CS2, the complaint must explain why they remain dissatisfied with the CS1 outcome of their complaint. They should identify one of more of the following grounds on which they are requesting the internal review:
- that relevant evidence has not been considered;
- that regulations, policies or procedures have not been applied correctly;
- that the reasons for the decision were not fully and clearly communicated;
- that there was bias;
- that the decision made was not fair or reasonable in all the circumstances.
- 8.12. The complainant will receive an acknowledgement of the complaint within 5 working days and an investigation will be conducted. The acknowledgement will explain the steps to be taken, how long the process is expected to take and any further information required.
- 8.13. The complaint will be investigated by the Principal (or nominee) unless they are cited within the complaint and findings will be presented within 20 working days. The individual concerned may be contacted for further information. A student can request to attend meetings or interviews with a representative from the student body, parent or guardian. Due to data protection, we do however communicate only with the student/complainant.
- 8.14. The complaint will be judged upheld, partially upheld or not upheld based on the findings. The Principal (or nominee) sends an outcome letter to the student and a copy to the Academic Office (for recording and monitoring purposes) if after 10 days of the findings, no further response is received.
Stage 3 – Requesting an external review
- 8.15. If an internal resolution cannot be found, the student has the right to refer the complaint to the Awarding Body (if the complaint relates to their study) and/or the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).
- 8.16. Students on KU awarded courses can refer their complaint to Kingston University, via Kingston University Complaints Procedure.
- 8.17. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) runs an independent scheme to review student complaints. In order for the students to refer their case to the OIA they will require a Completion of Procedures Letter. They must contact the OIA within 12 months of the date of the Completion of Procedures letter. Details of the rules of the scheme and information about how to make an application for review by the OIA are available at their website – oiahe.org.uk.
Completion of the procedures
- 8.18. On completion of BAJ’s internal processes, or on completion of the awarding body’s review, the student will be issued with a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter. This will include a clear explanation of the determinations made on the key elements within the complaint under review. Where relevant, BAJ will provide an explanation of how any outcomes are to be implemented. The ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter will advise the student of the right to submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) and the time limit for submission.
Recording, monitoring and analysis of complaints
- 8.19. The Academic Office will oversee the tracking and monitoring of complaints processed through the procedure. All forms and outcome of investigations must be submitted to the Academic Office.
- 8.20. In order to continually review and enhance the student experience, complaints received are reviewed and monitored. These details are also summarised and presented at the Higher Education Academic Board, which meets on a semester basis to ensure any common themes can be addressed or changes to policy can be implemented. Complaint trends and the annual report are reviewed by the governing body.
- 8.21. Informal complaints are recorded by the Head of Academy HE on the informal complaints log found on the GDrive. Anonymised and summarised details are presented at the Higher Education Academic Board, which meets on a semester basis to ensure any common themes can be addressed or changes to policy can be implemented.
- 8.22. The Academic Office will hold a record of all complaints for 3 years for audit purposes.
Originator: Quality Manager: Higher Education
Issue: HE/AFS_V2 2023
Approved: SMT September 2023
Review Date: August 2024