This is guidance to the UCL Student Complaints Procedure & UCL Academic Appeals Procedure. In this guidance we will set out how the procedures work, and what you can do if you think you have a complaint against UCL, or you want to appeal a decision about your assessment, progression or award. We will also tell you about the support that is available to you.
Student Complaints Procedure
UCL’s Student Complaints Procedure allows students to express dissatisfaction about an action of UCL, or lack of action, or the about the quality of services provided by UCL.
UCL advises students to try to resolve complaints at an informal level. This may involve arranging an informal discussion with either your Personal or Course Tutor, the Departmental Tutor or Programme Leader. You can also discuss your concerns with the Student Mediator. It can be helpful to prepare a draft of your complaint before attending an informal meeting; this will help you to focus on the core issues you are raising.
An informal discussion may enable you to resolve issues, without needing to make a formal complaint.
If you are submitting a complaint, you will need to do so within three calendar months of the decision/event which you are complaining about, unless you have compelling evidence why this couldn't be done. You will need to complete a Complaints form and submit this via AskUCL with any relevant supporting documentation.
On receiving the complaint, the Student Casework Team and Chair of the Complaints Panel will decide on whether to proceed with the complaint and if a Complaints Panel will be required.
- Preparing the 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. You could also write an informal email to the department you want to make the complaint to, explaining why you were unhappy with their service or actions.
To submit a formal complaint, you will need to complete all sections of the Complaint Form to submit your complaint. When doing this, make sure you are clear on why you are making a complaint, and what you outcome you want to resolve the issue. 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 our Advice Service at any point during the process to get support in putting your complaint together.
The 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.
You should include relevant evidence to support your complaint, as it's generally up to you to prove that something did or didn't happen. The UCL Casework Team won't be able to request evidence for you.
- When should I submit my Complaint?
Complaints must be submitted within three calendar months of the event giving rise to the complaint, unless you have compelling evidence why this couldn't be done.
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.
- The Complaints Process
Your complaint should be received within three calendar months 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 two months these will be considered only if you provide evidence of the circumstances.
The Casework Team will acknowledge receipt of the complaint.
The Casework Team and Chair of the Complaints Panel will decide whether to proceed with the complaint within 10 working days. If it is decided not to proceed with the complaint, you will be informed in writing of the decision, giving reasons.
If it is decided to proceed with the complaint, the Casework Team will contact the relevant person or department concerned, to give them the opportunity to respond. They will be given 10 working days to send a response to the Casework Team.
The response will be sent to you, and you will be given an opportunity to comment on the factual accuracy of the response.
The Chair of the Complaints Panel will make a decision on the basis of this information whether or not a decision can be made on your complaint based on the written material provided. If a decision can be made, the Chair of the Complaints Panel will inform you in writing whether your complaint has been upheld, partially upheld, or not upheld, setting out the reasons for the decision. If a decision cannot be made a Complaints Panel will be required.
- What happens at a Complaints Panel meeting?
The purpose of a panel is to review the information that has been provided and to ask you, and the person, department or service you are complaining about, questions about what has happened. All relevant documents will be sent to you and the other people involved in the complaint no later than ten days before the panel meeting. You and the member(s) of staff concerned can be present all through the hearing, except for when the Panel discusses its decision. You can be accompanied be someone, who must be a student or staff member of UCL or UCL Students’ Union.
The meeting will be recorded in writing by UCL to provide a factual record of the hearing, in case it needs to go to Review.
The Panel can adjourn for up to five working days to make a decision on the complaint. The panel will set out the decision in writing within ten working days of the final meeting of the Panel.
- Complaints Review
If a decision was made by the Chair of the Complaints Panel and you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to request a review within 10 working days of being notified of the decision. You can do this by completing a Complaint Review Form and submitting it to the Student Casework Team explaining why a review is requested as well as any evidence in support of this.
If you don't request a review, this will be noted on any Completion of Procedures letter you receive, which could affect your ability to ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator to review your complaint.
A request for a review may be made only on one or more of the following grounds:
a) procedural irregularity in the way in which the decision was reached;
b) new evidence that was not available during consideration of the complaint and where it would have been impossible for that evidence to have been made available at the time;
c) the decision was not reasonable given the circumstances of the case
The Casework Team 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, you will be given a Completion of Procedures letter, including reasons for the decision.
If it is decided that there are grounds for a review, it will be sent to the Complaints Review Panel.
The Complaints Review Panel may request another response from the person, department or service being complained about, if you have submitted new evidence. A hearing may be arranged. The panel can change the original decision in any way it thinks is appropriate. You will be given a Completion of Procedures letter once the review is finished.
The Completion of Procedures letter allows you to make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, if you are still unsatisfied with how your complaint was dealt with at UCL.
Please see our information about the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
The Academic Appeals Procedure is a formal process where you can request a review of a decision made by the Board of Examiners or an equivalent academic body (for Postgraduate Research Students) responsible for making decisions about student assessment, progression or award.
The purpose of the Academic Appeals procedure is to request a review of whether UCL applied it's Regulations and Procedures correctly, and whether any decision was reasonable and proportionate.
- What grounds can I make an Academic Appeal?
You can submit an appeal on one or more of the following grounds:
i. there were circumstances that significantly affected the student’s academic performance, where for compelling reasons, the relevant Extenuating Circumstances Panel was not made aware of the circumstances through the Short-term Illness and other Extenuating Circumstances Procedure;
ii. there occurred a material irregularity (an administrative or procedural error) that had a significant impact on a student’s performance and which had not been determined prior to a Board of Examiners;
iii. there is substantive evidence that one or more of the examiners can be shown to have been biased or prejudiced against the student in one or more specific assessments.
Extenuating circumstances (such as medical or other sudden and disruptive events) should be reported to UCL at the time they happen. If you submit an appeal on ground i, you must have compelling reasons with supporting evidence, explaining why you were unable to tell UCL sooner about your circumstances.
You cannot make an Academic Appeal based on your disagreement with an examiner's assessment of your performance, or against decisions properly arrived at through UCL's procedures.
- When should I submit an Academic Appeal?
You must submit an appeal within 10 working days of the date of the official notification of a Board of Examiners decision or outcome of an equivalent academic body for Postgraduate Research students
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.
If you send an appeal after 10 working days, you must have a good reason and evidence for the delay.
- Preparing the Academic Appeal
To submit an Academic Appeal, you will need to complete all sections of the Stage 1 Appeal Form to submit your appeal. When doing this, make sure you indicate the date of the official notification of the decision and are clear about what grounds you are appealing on. You should also include a clear and succinct explanation as to why you are unhappy with the decision. You must include all matters you want to be considered because you cannot introduce new matters later on.
You can talk to our Advice Service at any point during the process to get support in putting your appeal together.
- The Academic Appeals Process
Your appeal and any supporting documentation will be sent to the relevant Faculty for consideration. This is normally an Appeal Assessor who can be a Faculty Tutor (or nominee), a member of the Casework Team or a Faculty Tutor within another Faculty.
Your appeal will be considered by someone who has not previously been involved in the matters relating to your appeal.
The Appeal Assessor may ask for more information from staff, other students or external agencies. You will be given the chance to respond to any additional information.
Exceptionally, your appeal may need further consideration by a paper-based Appeals Panel and/or a hearing. You don't need to attend the paper-based panel but it is expected that you would attend a hearing.
- Appeal Review
You can request a Stage 2 Appeal Review, once you have received the outcome of the Stage 1 Appeal. Your appeal must be based on the following grounds:
i. that there is a material irregularity (an administrative or procedural error) in the handling of the appeal at Stage 1;
ii. there is new and relevant evidence to support the appeal which for good reason was not available and could not reasonably have been provided at the time the appeal was submitted;
iii. there is a response by way of written representation to the information sought by the Appeal Assessor at the appeal stage that demonstrates that the decision reached at the earlier stage was not reasonable given the circumstances of the case.
You must submit a request within 10 working days of receiving your Stage 1 decision and use the Stage 2 Appeal Review Form.
How can the Advice Service Help Me?
Our advisors can:
- tell you more about the procedures, what to expect, and what is expected of you
- advise you about drafting your statement (but can't complete one for you), deciding on the evidence you need to collect and putting together a strong case
- accompany you to a panel meeting
- if you are not satisfied with the response from UCL, we can advise you on how you can take your complaint forward outside of the university.
You can get in touch with our team via our online registration form.
UCL Student Mediator
The 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.
If you would like to discuss your issue with the Student Mediator, you can find contact details here.