The University operates certain Policy and Procedures on Student Appeals and a Complaints Handling Procedure, providing frameworks through which you, as a student of the University, can formalise any concerns you may have about aspects of your 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. You should note that there is an expectation under both processes that you will take responsibility for seeking resolution of any academic or non-academic concerns you may have. You 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.
- How to Submit an Appeal
You should familiarise yourself with the University’s Policy and Procedures on Student Appeals before pursuing a formal appeal. This document is designed to inform you of each of the stages of the process and includes important information, including on what grounds you can appeal and the timescales you, as an appellant, must adhere to.
In short, you should:
Step 1: Try to resolve the matter informally with the appropriate School or Administrative Section within 10 working days of the matter arising.
Step 2: If the matter cannot be resolved informally, submit a Form for Appeals and Complaints, together with all relevant evidence to email@example.com within 5 working days of being unable to resolve matter informally.
Step 3: A meeting will be arranged with the Head of School or Service within 10 working days. You will be told the outcome of this meeting within 3 working days.
Step 4: If you feel the matter has still not been resolved satisfactorily you may, within 5 working days, request further investigation by submitting the Request for an Appeal Panel Hearing form that will be sent with your outcome and submitting any additional supporting evidence.
Step 5: A ‘Grounds to Proceed’ panel will be convened to consider the matter and, if allowed to proceed, an ‘Appeal or Complaint’ panel will be convened to hear the matter; this hearing will take place within 20 working days.
If, at the end of the process, you believe the University has not adhered to its procedures in hearing your appeal, you may seek independent review of your case by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
- How to Submit a Complaint
You should familiarise yourself with the University's Complaints Handling Procedure before pursuing a formal complaint. This document is designed to inform you of each of the stages of the process and includes important information, including the definition of a complaint and the timescales you, as a complainant, must adhere to.
In short, you should:
Step 1: Try to resolve the matter informally with the appropriate School or Administrative Section.
Step 2: If the matter cannot be resolved informally, submit a Form for Appeals and Complaints, together with all relevant evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org. This should be done as quickly as possible and certainly within 6 months of the matter arising. The more timely your submission, the greater the chance the University will have of conducting a full investigation.
Step 3: A meeting will be arranged with the Head of School or Service following your submission. This meeting will occur, and a full outcome sent to you, within 20 working days of your submission.
If, at the end of the process, you believe the University has not adhered to its procedures in hearing your complaint, you may seek independent review of your case by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
- Support for Submitting an Appeal or Complaint
In addition to its published policies and procedures, the University has developed the following web resources to help guide you through making an appeal or a complaint:
The Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA) provides independent, student-focused advice, information and assistance at every stage of the appeals and complaints process. Any student who is unsure of where to go, who to speak to, or what to do next can contact the AUSA in person at the Students' Union, by calling them on 01224 274200 or by emailing email@example.com.
Students may contact the Academic Services Team within Registry for information on the appeals and complaints process by calling them on 01224 273936 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students who would like to discuss a non-academic complaint informally in the first instance are encouraged to contact the Student Advice and Support Office to request an appointment with a Student Support Adviser.
Information for members of staff on student appeals and complaints, or members of the public wishing to submit a complaint, can be found on our StaffNet webpages.
- How we deal with 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.
University of Aberdeen - Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) Data
Total Number of Cases
Frontline Cases Closed Within Timeline (within 5 working days)
Frontline Cases Granted an Extension*
Investigated Cases Closed Within Timeline (within 20 working days)
Formal Cases Granted an Extension*
Frontline Cases Upheld~
Frontline Cases Partially Upheld~#
Frontline Cases Not Upheld~
Investigated Cases Upheld
Investigated Cases Partially Upheld#
Investigated Cases Not Upheld”
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 MCHP recognises that not all investigations will be able to meet the 5 or 20 day deadlines on the basis of 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’.