The University operates a Policy and Procedures on Student Appeals and a Complaint Handling Procedure, providing frameworks through which students of the University, applicants, graduates or members of the public can formalise any concerns they may have about aspects of their academic or non-academic experience.

These processes have been designed to ensure that lodging an appeal or a complaint is accessible and simple and that robust, fair mechanisms exist for their consideration.

A major feature of both processes is the emphasis placed on early or frontline resolution. Prospective appellants or complainants are advised that there is an expectation under both processes that they will take responsibility for seeking resolution of any academic or non-academic concerns they may have. Individuals are encouraged to do this by raising and discussing them at the earliest possible stage with the relevant individuals in an academic school or administrative service.

In addition to its published policies and procedures, the University has developed the following web resources to help guide individuals through making an appeal or a complaint:

How We Deal with Complaints

In line with the requirements of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), the University has a Complaints Handling Procedure for handling complaints.

This procedure separates Complaints into ‘frontline' or ‘investigation'. A ‘frontline’ complaint, occurs when a student, applicant, or member of the public complains ‘on-the-spot’. You may, for example, have raised an issue regarding your student accommodation or asked for feedback on a piece of assessment. Schools and sections will record these data and, in the majority of cases, likely outcomes will be an on-the-spot apology, explanation or another form of action to resolve the complaint very quickly. Complaints at this stage of the process are dealt with as quickly as possible and usually within 5 working days.

‘Frontline' complaints may not, however, always be an appropriate route or may not provide satisfactory resolution. In such cases an investigation is undertaken. Timelines are slightly longer here.

In line with the requirements of the SPSO, the University is committed to report on the number of complaints. The table below provides detail for the 2014/15 and 2013/14 academic year. In reading the detail contained within, please also note the footnotes. Complaints can vary in their complexity and the number of issues they raise.

If you have any queries arising from this information, please contact

University of Aberdeen

 Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) Data


Academic Year





Academic Year





Total Number of Cases


15140 (0.6%)


14933 (0.5%)

Frontline Cases

57 (69%)


55 (75%)


Investigated Cases

27 (31%)


18 (25%)



Frontline Cases Closed Within Timeline (within 5 working days)

43 (75%)


50 (91%)


Frontline Cases Granted an Extension*

14 (25%)


5 (9%)


Investigated Cases Closed Within Timeline (within 20 working days)

16 (59%)


12 (66%)


Formal Cases Granted an Extension*

11 (41%)


8 (44%)


Frontline Cases Upheld~

11 (19%)


17 (31%)


Frontline Cases Partially Upheld~#

2 (4%)


28 (51%)


Frontline Cases Not Upheld~

44 (77%)


10 (18%)


Investigated Cases Upheld

7 (26%)


6 (33%)


Investigated Cases Partially Upheld#

2 (8%)


4 (22%)


Investigated Cases Not Upheld”

19 (56%)


8 (45%)



Average Time Taken to Resolve Frontline Cases

6 working days


7 working days


Average Time Taken to Resolve Investigated Cases

21 working days


30 working days


* The CHP recognises that not all investigations will be able to meet the 5 or 20 day deadlines due to the complex nature of some submissions which will require careful consideration and detailed investigation beyond the 20 working days timeline. Where a delay occurs, the agreement of the complainant is sought.

~ The outcome of frontline cases is not always easily defined as ‘upheld’ or ‘not upheld’ dependent on the nature of the concern raised. Where a resolution has been sought, the case has been recorded as ‘upheld’, however, where an issue has resulted in the clarification of policy, or noted without further investigation, the case has been appropriately recorded but ‘not upheld’.

# Where a complaint has covered several issues, where any of these are upheld, the outcome is recorded as ‘partially upheld’.

Information for students on Appeals and Complaints can be found under 'Your Studies, Appeals and Complaints' on the University's Students' InfoHub webpages.