- Part 1 - Key overarching policies and principles of UCL
- Part 2 - Curriculum planning and design
- Part 3 - Learning, teaching and assessment
- Part 4 - Student recruitment, admission and reception
- Part 5 - Student support and guidance
- Part 6 - Staff support and development
- Part 7 - Academic quality review, monitoring and feedback framework
- Part 8 - Management and organisational framework
Student Grievance Procedure
contact: Andy Saffery, Assistant Director (Operations and Planning), Registry and Academic Services
1. UCL has an established grievance procedure for dealing with representations from students and the detail of this procedure is set out in the following document. Students wishing to submit a formal representation are required to follow its provisions.
2. All formal representations will be considered in accordance with the procedure in force at the time that the representation is submitted to the Director, Registry and Academic Services and will be addressed by UCL in a timely manner, using simple and transparent procedures.
3. Formal representation through the following procedure should be made only if informal discussion fails to resolve the matter satisfactorily and if there appear to be genuine grounds for such a representation. Informal resolution will, however, remain an option at all stages of the procedure.
4. Representations falling under the jurisdiction of the University of London will be referred to the Academic Registrar, University of London1.
5. Wherever in this document a holder of office is referred to, the words ‘or his or her nominee' are to be understood.
6. The Dean of Students (Academic), the Dean of Students (Welfare) and the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall be kept fully informed of the progress of representations made under the above procedure.
Grounds for making a Representation
7. Representations from registered students which may be considered under this procedure are restricted to one or more of the following areas:
7.1. alleged deficiency in supervision received or alleged unsatisfactory delivery/administration of a programme.
Please note that representations concerning alleged deficiency in supervision, even if accepted, will not constitute grounds for amendment of the student's result(s). The only grounds on which representations alleging unsatisfactory delivery/administration of a programme may be made are as follows:
(i) that inadequate teaching/supervision was provided for some or all parts of the programme;
(ii) that published information about the programme was substantively misleading;
(iii) that the programme was not organised or delivered in accordance with the information and documentation provided to students on the programme.
7.2. the results of examinations (including alleged bias in the assessment). Representations against unofficial results will not be considered. Formal representations against the results of examinations can only be made when results have been passed by the Board of Examiners to UCL Registry and Academic Services and only if there appear to be genuine grounds for review of the result of the examination concerned. Representations on the grounds that the Examiners' assessment of the performance of the candidate in the examination was incorrect or against academic decisions properly arrived at in accordance with approved procedures will not be considered;
7.3. Representations concerning the results of examinations may be submitted on one or more of the following grounds:
(i) that there has been an arithmetical or transcription error in the compilation of the marks and/or the result;
(ii) that the Examiners could not reasonably have been made aware, formally, of special circumstances (e.g. illness) notified by the candidate which significantly affected his/her performance in the examination;
(Information regarding such 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 the student's last examination in the session concerned. Information submitted after the meeting of the Board of Examiners will only be accepted by the Board exceptionally and at the discretion of the Chair of the-Board, or,
(iii) that either the examination and/or classification process was not conducted in accordance with the relevant regulations/procedures;
(iv) that 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.
7.4. 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;
7.5 a decision not to permit transfer from MPhil to PhD;
Timescale for Submission of a Formal Representation
8. A formal representation from a student must normally be received by the Director, Registry and Academic Services as soon as possible after the events to which it relates. In respect of representations against alleged deficiency in supervision or unsatisfactory delivery/administration of a programme this must normally be before completion of the academic year in question/the final assessment associated with the programme.
9. All other representations must normally be received by the Director, Registry and Academic Services within twenty-eight days of the formal date of notification of the decision/award in question and in any event before the beginning of the next formal academic session.
10. Any student who feels aggrieved and considers making a representation is required to discuss the matter informally in the first instance with a member of staff in his/her Department or Faculty (e.g. his or her Personal/Course Tutor, the Departmental Tutor or Graduate Adviser, Faculty/Faculty Gradate Tutor, Dean of Students (Welfare) or any other appropriate member(s) of staff). Students may also seek advice from the UCL Union Rights and Advice Office (tel: 020 7679 2533/2507 or http://www.uclunion.org/get-advice/). Advice and/or clarification on any part of the following procedure may also be obtained from Andy Saffery, Office of the Director, Registry and Academic Services (Tel: 020 7679 (3)2048). In matters involving a representation against the result(s) of examinations, the Chair of the Board of Examiners responsible for that examination may not be approached.
11. Where informal resolution is not possible, a student should submit to the Director, Registry and Academic Services a completed and signed UCL Grievance Application Form (available here) for receipt by the appropriate deadline(s) (paragraphs 8 and 9 refer). An extension to a deadline (e.g. in the event of UCL closure for public holidays, etc.) may only be permitted at the discretion of either the Director, Registry and Academic Services or Chair of the Panel (see paragraphs 8 and 9).
12. The Director, Registry and Academic Services will acknowledge in writing receipt of the UCL Grievance Application Form and determine, in the first instance and in conjunction with the Chair of the Grievance Panel (normally either the Dean of Students (Academic) or Head of the Graduate School – paragraphs 21 and 22 refer), whether a prima facie case has been established for proceeding with the representation.
13. The student will be notified in writing by the Director, Registry and Academic Services of the decision to proceed/not to proceed with the representation. If it is decided not to proceed with the representation, the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall inform the student of the decision, giving reasons, as soon as is practicable.2
14. Where appropriate, the Director, Registry and Academic Services, in consultation with the Chair of the Panel, will determine whether or not it is appropriate for the student to continue his/her studies pending the outcome of the representation.
15. The Director, Registry and Academic Services will notify the member(s) of staff concerned (i.e. the respondent(s)) and the relevant Faculty representative and/or Head of Department and/or Chair of the Board of Examiners that a representation has been received. This notification will include a copy of the representation together with a copy of this procedure and an invitation to the respondent(s), in conjunction with other relevant parties/witnesses as the respondent(s) sees fit, to respond formally to the representation within twenty-one days of notification. No further written evidence will be accepted from any party unless specifically requested by the Chair of the Panel (paragraph 18.(b) below refers).
16. On receipt of the response from the respondent(s), the Director, Registry and Academic Services and Chair of the Panel will review their decision to proceed with the representation. If it is decided not to proceed with the representation, the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall inform the student of the decision, giving reasons, as soon as is practicable.
17. Where it is decided to continue with the representation, the Chair shall establish a Grievance Panel.
18. The Grievance Panel shall consider the representation and in so doing shall:
(a) accord equal procedural treatment to the student and the member(s) of staff concerned;
(b) seek further clarification of the written evidence from whomever it feels appropriate;
(c) ensure that copies of all documentation pertaining to the representation are received by all parties no later than ten days before the meeting of the Panel. No further communications of any sort will be accepted for consideration by the Panel after this time;
(d) interview the student and member(s) of staff concerned. At any such interview the student and staff member(s) may be accompanied by a friend, who must normally be a member of UCL.
19. The sole purpose of an interview shall be to investigate the grounds of the representation by the student; the interview shall not in any way constitute or be seen to constitute a disciplinary hearing against the member(s) of staff or Department/Faculty concerned.
20. Individuals nominated to serve as members of a Grievance Panel will be asked at the time of nomination to declare any interest in or connection with the appellant or the respondent(s) which is likely to prejudice the hearing. As far as is practicable, the appointment of Panel members shall be made with regard for an appropriate balance of ethnicity and sex.
21. In cases of grievances involving undergraduate programmes of study the panel membership will normally comprise the Dean of Students (Academic) as Chair, a Faculty Tutor from a Faculty other than that in which the student is registered and a student representative (normally a Sabbatical Officer of the UCL Union).
22. In cases involving a taught graduate or research programme, the Panel membership will normally comprise the Head of the Graduate School, a Faculty Graduate Tutor chosen from a Faculty other than that in which the student is registered and a student representative (normally either the Postgraduate Officer or Medical Students and Sites Officer, UCL Union).
23. The quorum in each case shall be three. In the event of the unforeseen unavailability of a Panel member, the Director, Registry and Academic Services may appoint a replacement.
24. A member of staff from UCL Registry and Academic Services will be appointed by the Director, Registry and Academic Services to advise a panel as necessary in respect of UCL's Academic Regulations for Students and other relevant UCL regulations and procedures.
25. Where necessary, an independent expert in the field of study or related discipline may be appointed, subject to the agreement of all parties, to advise the panel either orally or in writing.
26. The Grievance Panel shall normally be serviced by a member of staff from UCL Registry and Academic Services, through whom all documentation will be passed. There shall be no communication, either written or oral, between the Grievance Panel and either the student or the member or members of staff concerned. Communication, either written or oral, by any party directly with members of the Grievance Panel will not be admitted as part of the case documentation.
Conduct of Hearings
27. Hearings will normally be held in private. A hearing may be held in public at the request of the student/complainant provided that any member or members of UCL staff specifically complained about by the student agree. In the event of any member of staff specifically involved in the complaint not agreeing to the student's/complainant's request, a decision whether to hold the hearing in public shall be made by the Chair of the Grievance Panel whose decision shall be final. The limit on the number of members of the public in attendance at any hearing will be determined either by the natural capacity of the room in which the hearing is held and/or by the Chair of the Panel. Members of the public may observe proceedings but have no rights of participation/involvement. Recordings of the proceedings by members of the public will not be permitted.
28. A single tape recording will normally be made by UCL of each hearing for the purpose of providing a factual record in the event of the hearing going to appeal. The recording will be destroyed following the final resolution of each case.
29. Both the student and member(s) of staff concerned shall be entitled to be present throughout a hearing except when the Panel deliberates on its decision. Only in exceptional circumstances, and with the agreement of all parties, may individuals be heard separately. Each party will be entitled to be accompanied during the Panel hearing by ‘a friend', whose role is as follows: to provide moral support during an interview or hearing; and to ensure that the interview or hearing is conducted in a fair and appropriate manner, in accordance with the relevant procedures under which the representation is being considered. The friend must normally be a member of UCL3, and may address the interview panel or hearing only when invited to do so by the Chair of the Panel.
30. The Grievance Panel shall convey to the Director, Registry and Academic Services the outcome of the representation, giving detailed reasons for the decision and what compensating action, if any, should be taken in respect of the student.
31. The Director, Registry and Academic Services shall write to the student and the respondent(s) conveying the decision, giving the reasons for it and indicating what compensating action, if any, will be taken.
32. The Director, Registry and Academic Services shall also inform the Head(s) of Department/Chair of the Board of Examiners of the decision of the Panel and indicate what compensating action will be taken, subject to the outcome of any appeal.
33. Subject to the rights of appeal, all decisions made in accordance with these procedures shall be binding on all parties.
34. Notice of intention to appeal by either the student or member(s) of staff or Department/Faculty concerned against the decision of the Grievance Panel shall be made in writing to the Director, Registry and Academic Services within twenty-one days of the date of the notification of the decision in respect of which an appeal is made. Such notice shall include all documentation pertaining to the grounds on which the appeal is being made. No further communications of any sort will be accepted for consideration under an appeal after this time.
35. An appeal should normally be made only on one or more of the following grounds:
(a) that the representation was not conducted according to the above procedures;
(b) that new evidence has become available which was not, and which could not reasonably have been, made available to the Grievance Panel;
(c) that the compensating action agreed by the Grievance Panel was either excessive or inadequate in relation to the grievance.
36. As soon as is practicable after receipt of such notification the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall present the documentation relevant to the appeal to the Chair of the Grievance Appeals Panel who shall decide on the evidence available whether or not the appeal should be proceeded with in accordance with the grounds set out at 35. above.
37. If it is decided not to proceed with the appeal, the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall inform the appellant of the decision of the Chair of the Grievance Appeals Panel, giving reasons, accompanied by a Completion of Procedures letter to the appellant.
38. Where it is decided that the appeal shall be proceeded with, the Director, Registry and Academic Services shall inform all parties of the decision of the Chair of the Grievance Appeals Panel and will make the necessary arrangements for an appeal panel to review the case as early as possible, and in any case normally within three calendar months of receipt of the notification of intention to appeal.
39. Membership of a Grievance Appeals Panel will be drawn from an independent panel approved by Council on an annual basis. As far as is practicable, the appointment of Panel members shall be made with regard for an appropriate balance of ethnicity and sex.
40. The constitution of a Grievance Appeals Panel shall be as follows:
(a) a Chair of the Grievance Appeals Panel, who shall be appointed by the Provost, as and when the Grievance Appeals Panel needs to be established, from among a panel of nominees, not being members of UCL Council or UCL staff or students of UCL, approved annually by UCL Council;
(b) two persons, not being members of the UCL Council or UCL staff or students, to be appointed by the Chair, as and when the Grievance Appeals Panel needs to be established, from among a panel of nominees approved by Council;
41. The quorum for a Grievance Appeals Panel shall be three including the Chair. In the event of the unforeseen unavailability of a Panel member, the Director, Registry and Academic Services may appoint a replacement.
42. The Secretary of a Grievance Appeals Panel shall normally be appointed from UCL Registry and Academic Services . He or she shall not have acted as secretary to the Grievance Panel.
43. A Grievance Appeals Panel shall review all of the evidence before it; seek further clarification of the written evidence from whomever it feels appropriate; and shall have power to reverse or modify the decision appealed from in any way that it thinks fit. Only exceptionally, and on its own initiative, shall a Grievance Appeals Panel interview the student and member(s) of staff concerned. On such occasions the procedure for conducting a panel interview will be as set out at paragraphs 27-29 above.
44. The decision of a Grievance Appeals Panel shall be reached by a majority vote of the members of the Panel, and shall be announced as the decision of the Panel.
45. The votes of individual Panel members shall always be treated as confidential and there shall be no disclosure either of such votes or of information showing whether the decision was reached by a unanimous or a majority vote.
46. The Panel may adjourn for a period not exceeding seven days for the purpose of deciding upon the appropriate action to be taken upon the appeal.
47. The Grievance Appeals Panel shall notify the Director, Registry and Academic Services in writing of the outcome of the appeal. The Director, Registry and Academic Services will in turn notify all parties of the decision of the Grievance Appeals Panel and issue a Completion of Procedures letter to the appellant. A report on its proceedings shall also be submitted to the next appropriate meeting of Academic Committee.
48. A decision of the Grievance Appeals Panel shall be final as far as internal UCL procedures are concerned (paragraph 54. below also refers).
49. Compensating action agreed in the light of the initial representation (paragraph 31. above refers) shall not normally be implemented until the outcome of the appeal is known.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator [OIA]'s Student Complaints Scheme
50. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education [OIA] has been established to provide an independent scheme for the resolution of student complaints. All Higher Education Institutions [ HEIs ] are required to comply with the Scheme which came into effect from 1 January 2005. Areas of complaints covered by the OIA will include:
- a programme of study or research for which the complainant was registered.
- a service provided by UCL.
- a final decision by a UCL disciplinary or appeal body.
51. The OIA will not, however, advise about a complaint if:
- it relates to a matter of academic judgement (which will normally be about a student's academic performance).
- the matter is or becomes the subject of court or tribunal proceedings.
- it concerns a student employment matter.
52. Forms and further details on the operation of the OIA are available from the OIA web site www.oiahe.org.uk. Alternatively, the Office of the Director, Registry and Academic Services (Mr Andy Saffery, tel. 020 7679 2048, UCL ext. 32048) and the UCL Rights and Advice Office (020 7679 4130, UCL ext. 34130) can provide forms and or further information.
1 Students wishing to appeal in the matter of the final result of examinations for a Research Degree (MPhil or PhD), other than Advanced Degrees in the Faculty of Medicine, must follow the University of London approved procedure (copies of which are available from the Director, Registry and Academic Services of UCL, or the Academic Registrar of the University) and make their submission to the Academic Registrar of the University.
2 A twenty-one day period is regarded as the normal timescale for written responses; where it may not sufficiently accommodate the time taken to get a decision to a student (e.g. if they are residing outside the UK ), and at the discretion of the Director, Registry and Academic Services and/or Chair, methods of service (e.g. email, fax or post) will be spelled out and a reasonable period after posting will normally be allowed. Where possible, confirmation of the chosen method of service will be made by e-mail.
3 For this purpose ‘a member of UCL' may be defined as either a current registered student of UCL, a UCL Union Sabbatical Officer, or a member of staff who is in receipt of a valid contract of paid employment with UCL.
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