It can in fact be difficult to determine when something becomes an internal complaint. Does an informal verbal discussion with a lecturer about problems, issues, complaints constitute a potential complaint? Or, what if you start to appeal a decision and then become influenced by others to abandon the appeal? Or, you are time barred from appealing/complaining? Where does this data get recorded?

Well, surely the university would be collating all this data…? If they are then they are very protective over the information. It is unclear to know whether universities are reluctant to provide full data on the number of internal complaints/internal appeals that happen, or whether it is just that they are insufficient at collating such data.

Personal experience has shown that it was difficult to access this data directly from the university. A number of universities for example would say that the data can vary from faculty to faculty and that the university does not collect the data centrally and therefore to obtain this data would be very time consuming for staff. Some simply say they do not have any data to share. Maybe universities do not see the merit in collecting this data????

How do you change an ineffective complaints handling procedure if you have no information regarding types, numbers, or outcomes of complaints? It is only upon analysis of effectively collated data that a university can assess whether their internal procedures are an effective mechanism in handling student complaints and issues.

The information in the Annual Letters cannot provide an accurate measure of the actual number of students that have had issue to complain, made an informal complaint or even given up the first formal stage of a procedure. Nor do the Annual Letters measure the successful resolution of complaints at any of the formal or informal internal stages prior to matters being escalated to the OIA.

In the end, the Annual Letters can in fact only really measure the ultimate failure of an internal procedure to satisfy a student’s complaint and in turn measure the number of those dissatisfied students that took matters to the OIA. In order to obtain any meaningful data regarding internal university procedures and complaints it is going to be necessary for the universities to start gathering data, if they are not already, and sharing that data with the OIA and with the students so that a true picture can be gained.

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