Information for students

  • Before engaging in the formal complaint procedure, you may wish to discuss the issue informally with an appropriate member of staff and raise a concern and we encourage you to do so. If you speak to someone in person (or by phone or email), you may get the chance to have a comprehensive dialogue, raise concerns fully, receive answers and if possible, some remedies.

    If the above is not appropriate, or you are unhappy with the response, you will need to formalise your complaint through the Student Complaint Procedure. While these notes explain in general how to do this, the specific details are set out in the Student Complaint Procedure itself. You are advised to read the Student Complaint Procedure and, if necessary, seek support from the Brookes Union Advice Service who can support you to complete your complaints form. They provide confidential advice, independent of the University.

    Concern or complaint?

    The University makes a very clear distinction between a concern and a complaint. Any issue raised with the University, either orally or in writing, will be treated as a concern. If a Complaints and Appeals Form is submitted, it will be considered as a complaint.

    A concern is something that you are unhappy about and wish to bring to the University's attention. The University will consider what you say and will usually respond to you the first time that you raise an issue as a concern. It is hoped that as many issues as possible will be resolved at the informal stage of a concern, through appropriate action being taken by University staff to address and, if appropriate, rectify a situation as raised by a student. If the University does not respond or if you are not happy with the response that you get, there is nothing further that you can do about it while it remains at the level of a concern. 

    It is easier to investigate a complaint soon after the event has occurred. Though we realise it may not be possible to raise a complaint immediately, the University expects students to submit any complaints that they have within two months of the event. Students should be aware that if they do not do so within two months of the issue or circumstance arising, it is likely that their complaint will be dismissed without further investigation or consideration due it to being late. The University will not normally consider complaints made after this, unless there is a good reason (with evidence to support) for the delay.

    Where a concern you are raising is clearly serious, and dialogue with a member of staff does not resolve the issue relatively quickly, you will be advised that there is nothing further that can be achieved through the informal mechanisms and you must decide either to accept the situation or formalise your concern into a complaint. Similarly, if a member of staff has tried to resolve a concern but, after an exchange of correspondence, has not managed to do so, they are again advised to refuse to respond further unless you raise the issue as a complaint.

    Relationship with staff

    It is a breach of both the staff and student disciplinary procedures for anyone to victimise you for raising a concern or submitting a complaint (or supporting another student who is doing so) we do not want you to be concerned about any negative consequences from raising a complaint.

    Your complaint does not have to be found to be justified; you simply have to be raising it in good faith, ie believing it to be a valid complaint.

    If do you submit or support a complaint that you know is untrue or unfounded, or you supply false evidence, it could be considered a breach of the student conduct procedure. 

    While, in general, raising a concern or even a complaint will not have any noticeable impact on the day-to-day working relationship between you and any members of staff, there are circumstances and types of complaint that could adversely affect your relationship with one or more specific members of staff (eg if you have specifically complained about them).

    While the University is confident that no member of staff would victimise any student who has raised a complaint in any way, whatever the circumstances, it understands that you may not be as confident that this is the case. The University therefore has to balance the need to avoid unnecessary disturbance of the existing teaching, supervision and assessment arrangements with the need to demonstrate beyond doubt that you have not been victimised as a consequence of raising your complaint.

    General working relationship with the relevant staff

    If you only have a general working relationship with the relevant staff (eg they teach on a module that you are studying), it is expected that both you and they will continue that relationship in a professional manner and allow the matters you are complaining about to be progressed through the formal procedure. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Pro Vice-Chancellor/Dean of Faculty or Director consider agreeing to a request for alternative working arrangements while the complaint is being investigated.

    Working more directly with the relevant staff

    On the other hand, if you have to work more directly with the relevant member of staff (e.g. they are your dissertation supervisor, Academic Adviser or line manager or they would normally assess work that you will be submitting before your complaint is resolved), the Pro Vice-Chancellor/Dean of Faculty or Director will endeavour to make alternative arrangements while your complaint is being investigated if you ask them to do so.