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This is guidance to the UCL Student Complaints Procedure. In this guidance we will set out how the procedure works, and what you can do if you think you have a complaint against UCL. We will also tell you about the support that is available to you.

UCL Student Mediator

The UCL Student Mediator  is responsible for advising and assisting UCL students with the resolution of complaints, involving staff or other students or services of UCL which the student has been unable to resolve through informal means.

The Student Mediator will seek to achieve a resolution between the parties in dispute. The Student Mediator will not direct decision making but will enable both parties to put forward their views and facilitate a mutually agreed solution.

Visit the website of the UCL Student Mediator. 

Contact the UCL Student Mediator. 

How to prepare and submit a complaint

UCL advises students to arrange an informal discussion before making a complaint. We suggest you prepare a first draft of the complaint before attending the informal discussion, this will help you to focus on the core issues.

The informal discussion can be held with one of the following: your Personal or Course Tutor, the Departmental Tutor or Graduate Adviser, the Faculty Tutor or the Faculty Graduate Tutor. You can also discuss your concerns with the Student Mediator.

Preparing the formal statement of the complaint

First, stop and think, why do you need to take out a complaint, and secondly, what do you hope the result will be? You will need to make these matters clear in your complaint, so you will need to be sure about what these are. You can talk to a UCLU Rights and Advice caseworker at any point during the process to get support in putting your complaint together.

You need to complete and sign a UCL Student Complaint Application Form . Please remember there are strict time limits for the submission of this form. These time limits vary according to your circumstances, and are set out in detail in the complaints procedure 

The full statement needs to be a clear explanation of what did or did not happen. You must clearly demonstrate how your complaint fits the grounds for making a complaint. You should bear in mind that the members of the panel considering the complaint may not be familiar with your department, and can only use the information you supply.

Grounds for Complaint

UCL will only consider complaints which relate to the following grounds:

Academic complaints

1. Alleged deficiency in teaching/supervision received for some or all parts of the programme;

2. Alleged unsatisfactory delivery/administration of a programme of study, insofar as:

(a) published information about the programme was substantively misleading; or

(b) the programme was not organised or delivered in accordance with the information and documentation provided to students on the programme.

3. The results of examinations (including alleged bias in the assessment or a decision not to permit transfer (i.e. upgrade) from MPhil to PhD, insofar as:

(a) either the examination and/or classification process was not conducted in accordance with the relevant regulations/procedures; (b) there has been an arithmetical or transcription error in the compilation of the marks and/or the result;

(b) There has been an arithmetical or transcription error in the compilation of the marks and/or the result;

(c) the examiners could not reasonably have been made formally aware of special circumstances (e.g. illness) notified by the candidate which significantly affected her/his performance in the examination.

(d) there is substantive evidence that one or more of the examiners can be shown to have been biased or prejudiced against the candidate in one or more specific examinations.

4. A decision not to readmit a student to UCL or to allow a student to continue on a programme of study on the grounds of unsatisfactory academic performance.

Non-academic complaints

Non-Academic Complaints may include any matter which (i) falls outside the definition of an academic complaint, (ii) is not covered by another UCL procedure and (iii) affects a student’s experience at or of UCL and requires a response.

When should you submit your complaint?

Complaints concerning alleged deficiency in teaching/supervision and/or unsatisfactory delivery/administration of a programme of study will not be considered if received after your results have been confirmed by UCL’s Education Committee or Research Degrees Committee and published on Portico.

Complaints against unofficial results will not be considered. Formal complaints against the results of examinations can be made only when results have been confirmed by UCL’s Education Committee or Research Degrees Committee and published on Portico.

Information regarding special circumstances (e.g. illness) must have been notified in writing with supporting documentation (e.g. a medical certificate), where appropriate, to the Departmental or Degree Programme Tutor as soon as possible but in any case not later than the day after your last examination in the session concerned. Extenuating circumstances not previously notified in accordance with UCL’s Procedure for Extenuating Circumstances in force at the time of the complaint or relevant academic year will not be considered under this Procedure.

The Complaints Process

Your complaint should be received within 28 days of the formal date of notification of the decision, the award in question or the event about which you are complaining. If there are exceptional circumstances, such as serious medical circumstances, which prevent you from complaining within these 28 days these will be considered only if you provide evidence of the circumstances.

The Deputy Registrar will acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

The Deputy Registrar and Chair of the Complaints Panel will review the decision on whether to proceed with the complaint within ten days. If it is decided not to proceed with the complaint, the Deputy Registrar will inform you in writing of the decision, giving reasons.

The Deputy Registrar will write to the relevant person concerned. For academic complaints this will be Faculty Representative, Head of Department and/or Chair of the Board of Examiners. For non-academic complaints this will be the Head of the relevant unit of UCL. This person will be given 15 working days to send a response to the Deputy Registrar.

The response will be sent to you, and you will be given an opportunity to comment on the factual accuracy of the response.

The Deputy Registrar and Chair of the Panel will make a decision on the basis of this information whether or a decision can be made on your complaint.
If a decision can be made the Deputy Registrar will tell you in writing, setting out the reasons for the decision.
If a decision cannot be made a Complaints Panel will be required.

Complaints Panel

The Complaints Panel will consider the complaint by investigating the grounds of the complaint. This may include interviewing you and the staff concerned with the complaint, and/or holding a Panel Hearing.

Who are the Complaints Panel?

The full details on who will be on your panel can be found in the Procedure. The panel is three people, the chair will be a Senior member of UCL staff, there will be a member of staff from a faculty that you are not studying with, or senior manager from a professional service and a student representative. There will be a member of the Student and Registry Services as the ‘secretary’, which means they do not make a decision on your case, but can advise on the procedure and deal with administration of the procedure.

What Happens at a Complaints Hearing?

All relevant documents, such as statements, witness statements, independent experts opinions, and documentary evidence such as medical notes and transcripts, must be given to you and the other people involved in the complaint not later than 10 days before the panel meeting. The panel won’t consider any other communication, unless the Chair of the Panel permits it.

The Hearing will be recorded by UCL to provide a factual record of the hearing if it needs to go to Review.

You and the member(s) of staff concerned can be present all through the hearing, except for when the Panel discusses its decision. You and the member of staff can be accompanied be someone, who must be a member of UCL or the UCL Union.

The Panel can decide to go ahead with the hearing and decide the complaint if any person does not attend the hearing.

The Decision

The Panel can adjourn for up to seven days to make a decision on the complaint. The panel will set out the decision in writing within 10 days of the final meeting of the Panel.
 

Review Procedure

If you don’t feel that the complaint has been satisfactorily resolved by the Panel you have the right to request a review. You must do this, by writing to the Registrar within 21 days of being notified of the Panel’s decision. You need to include all the documents relating to the grounds you are making the request for review. There will not be any further opportunity to submit additional information, so the Review request must contain everything you want to be considered.

The Registrar will present the documentation relevant to the review to the Chair of the Review Panel who will decide on the evidence available whether or not the review should be carried out. If it is decided not to carry out a review the Registrar will inform you, giving the reasons for the decision and a Completion of Procedures letter. This Completion of Procedures letter allows you to make a complaint to the independent Higher Education Ombuds Service the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education .

Grounds for review

a) that the complaint process was not conducted according to the procedures;

b) that new evidence has become available which was not, and which could not reasonably have been made available to the Panel;

c) that the compensating action agreed by the Panel was inadequate in relation to the complaint.

If it is decided that the review will be proceeded with the Registrar will inform all parties and organise a Review Panel to consider the matter. The outcome of the review will be decided within 2 calendar months of you submitting your request for review.

Review Panel Membership

Membership of a Review Panel will be drawn from an independent panel approved by Council. The Review Panel will have three members, including the Chair, who will be appointed by the Provost. In the event of the unforeseen unavailability of a Panel member, the Registrar may appoint a replacement. The Secretary of a Review Panel will normally be appointed from UCL Student and Registry Services. S/he will not have acted as secretary to the Panel whose decision is now under review.
 

What does the Review Panel Do?

The Review Panel will review all of the evidence before it; seek further clarification of the written evidence from whomever it feels appropriate; and will have the power to reverse or modify the decision reviewed in any way that it thinks fit. Where new evidence is considered which was not available to the Complaints Panel, the Chair of the first Panel will be given the opportunity to respond to the new material.

Only exceptionally, and on its own initiative, will a Review Panel interview the student and member(s) of staff concerned. If this happens then the procedure for conducting a panel interview will be the same as those procedures for establishing a Complaints Panel.

The decision of a Review Panel will be reached in accordance with the decision-making procedure as prescribed for a Complaints Panel.

The Review Panel will notify the Registrar in writing of the outcome of the Review. The Registrar will in turn notify all parties of the decision of the Review Panel and issue a Completion of Procedures letter to the student.

A decision of the Review Panel shall be final as far as this Procedure is concerned

How can the Advice Service Help Me?

Our advisers can

  • tell you more about the procedures, what to expect and what is expected of you
  • assist you in drafting your statement, deciding on the evidence you need to collect and putting together a strong case
  • accompany you to a meeting. We would usually accompany you to formal Panel meetings, not usually informal discussion meetings.
  • advise you on how you can take your complaint forward outside of UCL if you are not satisfied with the response from UCL.