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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’s Student Complaints Procedure allows students to express concern or dissatisfaction with aspects of UCL or the quality of services provided.  

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 Graduate Adviser. 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.

A formal complaint can be one of two types: 

  1. An academic complaint: Any matter affecting your academic status, such as: your progression; the results of examinations; award/degree classification; inadequate supervision; or perceived maladministration of an academic programme. 
  2. A non-academic complaint: 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 UCL and requires a response. 

If you are submitting a complaint, you will need to do so within 28 days of the decision/event which you are complaining about. You will need to complete a Complaints form and send it to the Registrar at   

Once receiving the complaint, the Deputy Registrar 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 Statement

First, stop and think, why do you need to make 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 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.

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.

a) the decision rests on an examination outcome where any of the provisions set out above apply;

b) there is evidence that performance for part or all of the programme was significantly affected by special circumstances, which have not already been considered through the Extenuating Circumstances policy or through support given under a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SORA).

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 Casework team 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 10 days. If it is decided not to proceed with the complaint, the Deputy Registrar will inform you in writing of the decision, giving reasons.

If it is decided to proceed with the complaint, 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.

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 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 member of UCL or UCL Students’ Union. 

The meeting will be recorded 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 seven days to make a decision on the complaint. The panel will set out the decision in writing within ten days of the final meeting of the Panel. 

Review Procedure

If a decision was made by the Registrar and the Chair of the 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. This should be addressed to the Student Casework team and include a statement explaining why a review is requested as well as any evidence in support of this.

If you don’t feel that the complaint has been satisfactorily resolved by the Panel you also 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.

A request for a review may be made only on one or more of the following grounds:

a) that the complaint process was not conducted according to the correct 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. 

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 Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education .

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
  • assist you in drafting your statement, deciding on the evidence you need to collect and putting together a strong case for you
  • accompany you to a meeting. We would usually accompany you to formal Panel meetings, not usually informal discussion meetings.
  • 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 contact form or by emailing su.advice@ucl.ac.uk.

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.