Complaints Procedure

It is recognised across the College that prompt attention to an informal complaint not only demonstrates a caring and supportive attitude, but can often save time overall and prevent the escalation of a minor problem. All staff must take responsibility for handling complaints from College users and the public. Staff must, however, be sensitive to the informal (verbal) complaints of a serious nature and notify their manager and/or the Student Services Manager without delay. All formal and/or written complaints must be recorded in accordance with this procedure.

  1. General Guidelines
    1. Complaints vary in their nature and in their importance.
    2. To the complainant every complaint is important.
    3. Complaints should be valued and approached positively.
    4. Complaints must be given prompt attention and quickly responded to.
    5. The complaints procedure should allow a review of existing practices.
    6. All staff must be made aware of the Formal Complaints Procedure.
    7. Where a complaint remains unresolved there must be the opportunity for attention at a higher level.
    8. Any complaint which is properly the subject of disciplinary action will be dealt with under the appropriate Disciplinary Procedure, eg: Student Disciplinary Procedure - Section 6.3.
    9. Complaints regarding examinations and assessments are detailed in the Procedure for Student Assessment Appeals for all courses - Sections 5.5 and 5.6.
  2. Informal (verbal) Complaint Procedure
    1. Any member of staff receiving a verbal complaint should try to resolve it as quickly as possible.
    2. Should a member of staff be unable to deal with a complaint that results in a problem being unresolved, the Manager or Head of Department takes responsibility for rectifying the matter. With due regard to confidentiality and if appropriate, the complainant should be informed of who is handling the complaint and any action taken.
    3. If the complainant remains unsatisfied after action has been taken they should be invited to send a written complaint to the Student Services Manager. Complainants with language, literacy, hearing issues or who are visually impaired will be offered assistance.
  3. Formal (written) Complaint
    1. The complainant must be asked to put the complaint in writing to the Student Services Manager, preferably defining what possible remedy is sought. If the complaint refers to the Student Services Manager, the complaint should be dealt with by a Vice Principal, the Principal or the Chair of Corporation.
    2. Written complaints should be addressed to the Student Services Manager, but in many cases letters of complaint will be received by persons other than the Student Services Manager, (e.g. Vice Principal, Principal etc.). When the complaint is made by a client from an external organisation, the Business Development Manager is to be informed at an early stage and ensure the complaint and actions to resolve are logged in the college client record system. The designated senior staff who deal with formal complaints are in the first instance the Student Services Manager, the Vice Principal, and Principal.
    3. The recipient is to acknowledge in writing receipt of the complaint within five working days of its receipt, and to send a copy of the complaint and acknowledgement to the Student Services Manager (and Business Development Manager where appropriate) within one further working day.
    4. The Student Services Manager will ensure that a copy of the complaint is sent to the Vice Principal when the complaint relates to an academic issue.
    5. The designated senior staff member dealing with the complaint is to make suitable enquiries, assess its seriousness and take appropriate action. At this stage the opportunity to review the appropriate procedures to avoid/minimise similar complaints being repeated should be taken and reported in writing to the Student Services Manager.
    6. A full written reply to the complainant should be sent by the Student Services Manager or Vice Principal within ten working days of receipt of the initial complaint (with a copy to the Business Development Manager) where appropriate. When a complaint is rejected reasons should be given. The Student Services Manager (and Business Development Manager where appropriate) should be notified in writing to record the recommendations/action to be taken. The Business Development Manager should update the client record with the outcome.
  4. Monitoring and Evaluating Complaints
    1. Monitoring and evaluating complaints enables the College to satisfy itself that the procedures are working satisfactorily for all our learners, and take appropriate action where this is not the case. The identification of consistent themes among complaints - or a disproportionate number of complaints from one part of the College - might, for example, point to a positive improvement which could be made to the learner and staff experience.
    2. The Student Services Manager will monitor the following key areas:
      • The number of complaints made by full and part-time learners
      • The gender and ethnicity of those making the complaints
      • Whether or not those making the complaints had disabilities
      • The number of complaints made by international, EU and UK learners

        The Student Services Manager will report to the Senior Management Team and Curriculum & Quality Committee annually on formal complaints received, their resolution and those outstanding.

  5. Unresolved Complaints
    1. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the designated members of Senior Management Team they should be asked to submit the complaint to impartial mediation or the College Principal. If the matter remains unresolved at this level then the complaint should be directed to the Chairman of the Corporation. The Student Services Manager is to advise the complainant on the procedure to be followed in such cases.
As a last resort, a learner may complain to the relevant funding body or direct to the relevant Secretary of State. Complaints relating to the Information Advice and Guidance Service (IAG) also have the option of writing to the Guidance Council. Complainants must be advised that the appropriate funding body and the Secretary of State will expect the complainant to have followed the College Complaints Procedure before they will investigate.

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