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Student complaints and Grievance Policy

This Student Complaints and Grievances Policy will be reviewed annually by our Management Committee. Any amendments require the approval of the Board of Directors.

Introduction and Scope

1.1 At Inchbald, we are committed to providing our students with a high-quality educational experience,within an inclusive academic community, that enables them to achieve their study goals.We recognise that sometimes things go wrong and, when they do, we welcome the opportunity to put them right as soon as possible.

1.2 The Student Complaints and Grievance Policy is the mechanism through which students can raise any concerns or address any issues that they feel might prevent them or be preventing us from providing this experience.

1.3 It is our policy to resolve as quickly and fairly as possible any complaint that is made by astudent.

1.4 Our policy draws on guidance from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

1.5 Former students may also submit a complaint provided that the complaint relates to a matter which occurred whilst they were a student and provided they comply with the timescales for the submission of complaints set out below.

1.6 This Student Complaints and Grievance Policy applies to complaints:

  • From students about their educational experience, including failure on the part of the Inchbald School to meet obligations outlined in Student Handbooks.
  • About a service provided by Inchbald or a third party on behalf of Inchbald.
  • About misleading or incorrect information in prospect uses or promotional material.
  • Concerning discrimination by Inchbald on the grounds of gender, race, nationality,ethnic or national origin, religious or political beliefs, disability, marital status, social background, family circumstance, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or age.
  • About the behaviour of a member of staff towards a student - such complaints may be referred to the Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee.
  • About the behaviour of a student or students - such complaints may be referred to the Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee.
  • From a student who believes that he/she has suffered an injustice as a result of action taken or not taken on behalf of The School.

1.7 The above list is not intended to be exhaustive and, where appropriate, complaints about other matters will be considered under this Student Complaints and Grievance Policy.

1.8 It should be noted that we deliver validated under graduate and post graduate degrees which are developed and taught by us, but validated by our academic partner.That academic partner being Wrexham Glyndwr University (WGU).

1.9 In the event of a complaint being made by one of our students about the validating institution policies and procedures to which they are subject, we would aim to resolve the complaint locally through both our informal and formal procedures before referring the student to the validating institution Complaints Policy.

1.10 Complaints about the Inchbald's admissions process are dealt with under our Admissions Policy.

1.11 The School's Disciplinary Policy and Procedures covers general matters of misconduct.Complaints about student and/or staff behaviour which constitutes a disciplinary offence maybe dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy and Procedures rather than the Student Complaints and Grievances Policy and Procedures.

1.12 Academic appeals will come under the remit of the Academic Board and as such will be separate from Complaints and Grievances policy

Definitions

"Inchbald School of Design" is the institution providing the teaching and may be referred to as 'Inchbald School of Design' or 'The School'

'"Student" is someone who is registered as attending Inchbald school of Designfor any educational course and has undergone the enrolment process, whether actively on program at the time and before any formal cessation of studies

Policy Statements

The principles which underpin this Student Complaints and Grievances Policy are:

3.1Students will not suffer disadvantage as a consequence of making a genuine complaint.

3.2Inchbald School will seek to resolve complaints as quickly as possible within the available resources and to find resolutions which are reasonable and acceptable to all parties.

3.3Students will be allowed reasonable time to seek guidance and assistance in connectionwith any aspect of the complaints process. We will ensure that each party involved in acomplaint is given an equal opportunity to present their case.

3.4All parties are expected to make reasonable efforts to resolve matters on an informal basisbefore moving to the formal stages of the process.

3.5Any investigations undertaken as part of the formal complaints process will be conducted by individuals who have no prior knowledge of the student's complaint.

3.6Students have the right to be accompanied by a relative or friend, who is not acting in alegal capacity, at any meeting arranged to discuss the complaint.

3.7All parties involved in a complaint will be kept informed at all stages of the progress of any investigations into the matters raised and will be informed in writing of the outcome of the process, the reasons for any decisions taken and any proposed remedies.

3.8Inchbald School of Design will deal with complaints on a confidential basis but students should recognise that it may be necessary to disclose details of a complaint to otherpersons or organisations for the purposes of investigating the complaint and seeking an effective resolution.

3.9Where matters are within our control, we will ensure that appropriate remedial action istaken to resolve a complaint including addressing aspects of its operations or teaching that may be identified as requiring improvement.

3.10Complaints from groups of students will be considered. The individuals within the group should confirm in writing their support for the complaint and identify one person who willact as spokes person for the group and be the group's correspondent for the complaint.

3.11Complaints made by a third party on behalf of a student will not normally be considered by The School.

3.12Where a student is deemed incapable of submitting a complaint for themselves, a complaint by a third party will be considered (e.g. students with mental health issues); provided the representative is not a legal representative and we receive the explicit written consent of the student for the representative to act on their behalf.

3.13Anonymous complaints will not be considered by The School since complaints require a full investigation to enable resolution and this is not possible with an anonymous complaint.

3.14The Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee may agree that a complaint which relates to matters which occurred more than 20 working days before the complaint was submitted will be considered under the Student Complaints and Grievance Policy and Procedures if the student is able to provide evidence of good reason for the delay.

3.15All parties involved in acomplaint are expected to act fairly and reasonably towards each and to comply with the requirements of the procedures by completing complaints'documentation, adhering to any deadlines, responding appropriately to any requests forinformation or attendance at meetings and undertaking any reasonable action required inpursuance of a satisfactory remedy.

3.16We will investigate all complaints brought under the formal part of the procedure. However, we reserve the right to refuse to consider any student complaints which are thought, after initial investigation, to be unreasonable, vexatious or malicious. Examples of such complaints include:

  • Complaints that are obsessive, harassing or repetitive
  • Insistence on pursuing complaints that have no merit or unrealistic outcomes
  • Insistence on pursuing complaints in an unreasonable manner
  • Complaints which are designed to cause disruption or annoyance

3.17If a complaint from a student is felt to fall into any of the above categories, we will write to the student to explain our reason for ceasing consideration of the complaint. We may also refer the matter to our Student Disciplinary Policy and Procedures (This policy and procedures pertaining to it is currently being written) which may result in the imposition of a disciplinary penalty.

3.18In the case of complaints by students about staff, we will provide appropriate support to help both the student and staff member through the process.

Informal Procedure: local resolution

3.19Students should try to resolve matters of concern informally first through approaches to appropriate personnel such as Tutors, Course Leadersor Heads of Faculty. In many instances, these people will be best placed to respond to the complaint and to resolve it quickly and effectively.

3.20If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved after this discussion, the student has the right to address the issue through the formal stages of the process.

3.21The relevant staff member involved in the informal procedure will record the actions taken to consider and resolve the concern, the decision reached, and brief details of what was communicated to the student, and when. This information can then be made available to those dealing with any formal complaint should the student decide to make one. Staff are strongly recommended to make full notes of any interviews, meeting or verbal communications.

Formal Procedure: Stage 1

3.22The Formal Procedure: Stage 1 is used where a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal procedure, or where informal procedures are not suitable due to the nature, complexity or seriousness of the case.

3.23The formal stages begin when a student makes a complaint in writing by completing the Student Complaint Form (see Appendix 1) and submits along with any relevant evidence.

3.24A formal complaint must be sent to theAdmissions Secretary within 20 working days of the occurrence of the matters which relate to the complaint.

3.25Written evidence may include independent medical evidence, reports by professionals, financial information or witness statements.

3.26The Admissions Secretary will log the complaint and issue an acknowledgement of receipt to the student and forward the form and any written evidence to the Assistant Director and Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee.

3.27An investigation into the complaint will be undertaken promptly by the relevant Head of Faculty, or by a person nominated to act on their behalf as an independent investigator. The student will be informed who will be investigating their complaint.

3.28In order to investigate the complaint, the independent investigator may need to request further information from the student and so may ask to meet with them. This informationmust be returned with 10 days for the complaint to continue.

3.29The investigator will provide a written response to the parties involved within 10 working days of the completion of any investigation, which itself should be completed no later than 20 working days after the receipt of the completed complaint form.

3.30If it is not possible to complete the investigation within this time period, the student will be advised in writing of the reasons for the delay together with a deadline by which it is expected that the investigation will be completed.

3.31Following completion of the investigation, the written response sent to the student will outline the process followed, the information gathered, the conclusions drawn and any remedies proposed.

3.32If the complaint is not upheld, the letter will explain why there are no grounds to take thematter further and that no action will be taken.

3.33A record will be kept by the Admissions Secretaryof all formal complaints received and a copy of each written response of the Head of Faculty will be forwarded to theAssistant Director and Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee on the same day that it is issued to the student. No records will be held on the student's file.

3.34If the student is satisfied with the outcome of the formal complaint, the complaint is deemed to be resolved.

3.35If the student is not satisfied with the written response, they may refer the matter to Stage 2 of the Student Complaints Policy and Procedures.

3.36The student will be given information on how to proceed to Stage 2 of the Procedures, the deadline for doing so and where to access support within the outcome of the Stage 1 compliant, referred to above.

Formal Procedure: Stage 2

3.37The Formal Procedure: Stage 2 is where the student can appeal within Inchbald School for a review of either the process of the formal complaint to ensure that appropriate procedures were followed or the decision on the basis that it was perceived to be unreasonable.

3.38In order to invoke Stage 2 of the formal Student Complaints and Grievances Policy and Procedures, the student must complete the Student Complaint Appeal Form (see Appendix 2) together with any written evidence within 15 working days of the date of the Stage 1outcome letter, clearly outlining the reasons for taking matters to Stage 2.

3.39This Appeal must be submitted to the Admissions Secretary

3.40The Stage 2 appeal and all supporting evidence will be reviewed by Assistant Director and Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee within 15 working days of receipt. Further evidence may be requested at this stage.

3.41The outcome of the review will find either: • that there are no grounds for taking the matter further - if this is the case, the Student will be advised in writing accordingly; or • that there are grounds for consideration and further investigation, where appropriate - if this is the case, a Student Complaints Panel will be convened in a timely manner by the Assistant Director and/or Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee to hear the complaint.

3.42If the complaint relates to the Assistant Director and/or Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee will forward the complaint to a different Head of Faculty who will appoint another senior staff member who will undertake the review. The person appointed will have no prior knowledge of or involvement with the student's complaint.

3.43The membership of the Student Complaints Panel will consist of an Assistant Director and/or Chair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committee, who will Chair the hearing, and one Head of Faculty from a different department to that of the Chair. None of the staff will have prior knowledge of or involvement with the student's complaint. All members of the Panel will have knowledge of equality and diversity policies of The School. (The Schoolis currently investigating on-line training for Equality and Diversity with "Educare")

3.44The student will be invited to attend the hearing and will be given adequate notice of both the date of the hearing and composition of the Panel. In addition, the student can expectto receive a copy of the information to be considered at the hearing.

3.45The student will have the right to be accompanied by a representative. The representative may be a friend or relative who is not acting in a legal capacity; acting as support for the student. Where appropriate, the representative may speak in support of the student. However, it is expected that the student will speak for themselves during the hearing.

3.46The outcome of the hearing, including minutes of the hearing will be sent in writing to all parties within 20 working days of the hearing. If appropriate, an apology will be included together with details of any remedies proposed and deadlines for implementation of the same.

3.47The decision of the Panel will be final and will be the end of our internal procedures.

Completion of Procedures

3.48The Stage 2 hearing forms the final stage of the internal Student Complaints and Grievances Policy and we will issue the student with a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter at this point.

3.49The student then has the right to take their case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) and/or the validating institution subject to the considerations outlined below.

3.50The Completion of Procedures (COP) letter will explain the above and confirm the student has 12 months, from the date the COP is issued, in which to lodging a complaint with theOIA or Validating institution. The letter will also include information on where and how the student can access advice and support.

3.51It should be noted, that Inchbald will fully comply with any judgement made by the OIA where the complaint relates to Inchbald School.

3.52The position outlined in 3.45 above is true in all cases other than where the complaint is in relation to the validating institution policies and procedures.

3.53In the case of 3.48, the Student will not be issued a Completion of Procedures letter upon completion of Stage 2. At this point the student will be referred to the Validating institutions Student Complaints Policy.

3.54It is only when the validating institution has exhausted its procedures in relation to acomplaint of this nature that it will issue the Completion of Procedures letter and refer the student to the OIA.

Remedies

3.55Remedies for complaints include, but are not limited to,

  • an apology,
  • a clear explanation of the events,
  • context that led to the incident in question,

3.56Inchbald seeks to ensure that any remedies proposed are reasonable and appropriate to the nature and circumstances of the complaint, grievance or appeal.

Referrals

3.57Inchbald reserves the right to refer complaints at any stage to an alternative means of resolution, including to a mediation process, if it is considered to be in the best interests of the timely and effective resolution of the complaint.

3.58Exceptionally, with the agreement of the student and of staff concerned, complaints may be referred to one of the formal stages in the process omitting earlier informal or formal stages, if it is considered to be in the interests of the timely and effective resolution of the complaint.

3.59Examples of 3.54 might include those involving a threat of serious harm, those where the impact of the issues raised has detrimental consequences for the student's mental health, those relating to disability support, issues of a highly sensitive nature.

Confidentiality

3.60As stated earlier, we will deal with complaints on a confidential basis, butmay need todisclose details of a complaint to other persons or organisations in order to investigate thecomplaint and seek an effective resolution. For example, we will need to inform any personnamed in a complaint of the substance of the complaint sothat they can exercise theirright to reply as part of the investigation.

3.61In addition, we may need to divulge information to meet General Data ProtectionRegulation (GDPR) requirements.

3.62Where a student has made a complaint about another student or a member of staff, wewill notify the student bringing the complaint of the outcome. However, it may not beappropriate for us to share specific details affecting the other student or staff member,particularly where disciplinary action is being taken.

3.63It is equally important that the student bringing the complaint also respects the need forconfidentiality throughout the complaints process. Where confidentiality is breached theStudent Disciplinary Policy and Procedures(currently being written)may be invoked.

Implementation and Monitoring

4.1The implementation of this policy is managed via school and faculty plans which will takeaccountany outcomes of previously upheld complaints.

4.2We will report onthe operation of its Student ComplaintsandGrievancePolicy to ourManagementcommittee to ensure its processes are working as intended and are in thebest interests of students and the institution.

4.3Anonymised summaries of student complaints andhow they have been managed will bepresented, from time to time, to relevant committees.

4.4TheChair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committeewill report termly on thecurrent complaints and grievances that have been received and the outcome and any agreed remedies.Any improvements that have been agreed at faculty or school level willbe discussed at the management committee for implementation and/or enforcement.

4.5AnAnnual report willbe produced todetail anysignificant changesin policy andprocedures that are required following the complaints received. Provide statistics on thecomplaints received, the remedies proposed and the implementation of any changes inteaching, curriculum or disciplinary matters that follow the findings.

Responsible Parties

5.1TheChair of the Student Voice and Student Staff committeewill be responsible for managing theStudent Complaints and Grievances process. Maintaining central records and ensuring formalcomplaints are allocated within the structure of the policy

5.2 The Management committee will be responsible for reviewing the Annual Report and ensuringthat all the findings are actioned across the school

5.3 The Management committee will be responsible for reviewing this Policy annually whenconsidering the Annual report.

5.4 The Board of Directors will need to approve any changes to this policy before coming into force.

Reference Points

Internal

  • Admissions Policy
  • Student Disciplinary Policy and ProceduresAppeals policy re academics to be referenced here

External

  • Wrexham Glyndwr UniversityStudent Complaints Policy
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Download Student_Admissions_Complaint_Form Download Student_Admissions_Appeal_Complaint_Form