Information on eligibility and how to submit a formal Complaint

UCL is committed to providing a high-quality educational experience for all students. The university recognises however that from time-to-time problems do arise and welcomes the opportunity to correct mistakes and to respond constructively when students are dissatisfied with a particular service or other aspect of UCL provision.  

Where a complaint is upheld, we will seek to put things right for a student where possible. If a complaint is not upheld, we will give reasons for the decision.

Can I make a complaint? 

Yes, you can make a complaint within three calendar months of the event which has given rise to the issue or, if a series of events, within three calendar months of the final event in the series. Complaints will only be considered outside of this timeframe in exceptional circumstances.  

If a complaint is submitted outside of this timeframe, and the University determines that there are no compelling exceptional circumstances to explain this, you will be issued with a Completion of Procedures letter which will allow you to take your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). 

Issues considered under this procedure

If you are enrolled on a UCL course or have recently been enrolled on a UCL course, you can use the Student Complaints Procedure. We always work directly with our students to resolve concerns and for this reason we do not usually accept complaints from parents, family members or other third parties unless there are compelling reasons, and we have your explicit consent. 

You can submit a complaint under this procedure if you have a concern about:

  • the teaching on a programme or the delivery or administration of a programme, including, those delivered by collaborative partner institutions; 
  • a failure by the University to meet our obligations, including those outlined in course and module and programme documentation; 
  • misleading or incorrect information contained in prospectuses or promotional materials and other University publications; 
  • the poor quality of, or accessibility to, facilities, learning resources or services provided directly by the University.

Complaints arising from Industrial Action

Despite the disruption caused by recent industrial action, UCL has made efforts to ensure that students were not disadvantaged by this. However, we accept that in some cases teaching and learning has not always been mitigated for and, as such, you may be eligible to raise a complaint.  

In order to calculate any award made to you, we calculate the proportionate cost of the teaching hours missed, which factors in any mitigation that was applied at a local level. In addition, we apply a factor of 50% to account for other services funded by your tuition fees such as library and student support services, and IT facilities and estates. This calculation is in line with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)’s guidance regarding complaint cases concerning the impact of industrial action.   

In order to submit a complaint, you must complete a Stage 1 Complaint Form.

You form must include the full details about the dates and duration of missed teaching and learning and information about how much, if any, mitigation was put in place.  

We will then verify this with your Department in order to make an assessment as to whether any payment should be paid to you.  

Complaints must be raised within three calendar months of the last day of each round of industrial action as follows:

Industrial Action PeriodLast day of Industrial ActionLast date a complaint must be submitted
November 2022 30th November 2022 28th February 2023 
February & March 2022 22nd March 2023 22nd June 2023 

Any complaints received after this time will not be deemed eligible and you will receive a Completion of Procedures Letter.  

Furthermore, we will not accept pre-emptive complaints for industrial action that has not yet taken place. This means we will not accept complaints prior to the last day of each period of industrial action.

Sensitive Cases 

If you have a particularly sensitive case that you would like to discuss in confidence with a member of staff, you should contact your Personal Tutor or Academic Registry in the first instance. Our staff are available to offer you advice on your options and talk to you about what might happen next if you want to submit a formal complaint. UCL Students’ Union Advice Service is also very experienced at providing advice about this process. 

See examples of complaints relating to these areas and suggested routes for early resolution.

Issues not considered under this procedure

  • Complaints about Students’ Union UCL. This is because the Students’ Union is a separate legal entity from UCL with its own complaints procedure.  
  • Complaints from third parties, i.e., those who are not included in 2.1–2.3 above. Members of the public may use UCL’s Public Complaints Procedure 
  • Complaints about bullying and/or harassment by members of UCL staff. Allegations of this nature will be dealt with under the UCL Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, and should be submitted via Report & Support for the attention of HR; 
  • Complaints about other UCL students. Where appropriate, evidence of misconduct by other students will be considered under UCL’s Disciplinary Code and Procedure (in the case of non-academic misconduct) or the Student Academic Misconduct Procedure  (in the case of academic misconduct); 
  • Complaints which, by their nature, are more appropriately addressed by third parties, for example a government organisation such as the Home Office or Student Finance England. Such organisations generally have their own complaints procedures, and it is their organisational procedure which must be followed where UCL has no role in the decision-making process; 
  • Anonymous complaints. Please refer to UCL’s Public Interest Disclosure Policy for information on how to address matters in this way.

How to submit a complaint 

Many complaints can be resolved at an informal and/or local level and students are generally expected to have pursued an appropriate early resolution prior to bringing a formal complaint.  

Before you submit a formal complaint, you should take the matter directly to the member of staff best able to deal with it. For example, your Personal Tutor, Programme or Module Leader, another member of your programme team, your Student Representative or a member of professional staff.  

In all cases, UCL Students’ Union Advice Service will be able to support you in doing this.

Stage 1 – Formal Complaint

If your complaint cannot be resolved by early resolution, or you are dissatisfied with the resolution offered, you can submit a Stage 1 Formal Complaint.  

What to do?  

Complete the Stage 1 Complaint Form as soon as possible after you have received a response to your attempt to resolve the issue early.

What happens next? 

The Casework Team will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, and if your complaint is deemed valid a Senior Casework Officer will be appointed. If the complaint is not deemed valid, you will receive a Completion of Procedures letter explaining the reasons why and the next steps you can take.  

During the investigation 

In some cases, the Senior Casework Officer appointed to your complaint may deem it necessary to meet with or call you to discuss the details of your complaint. You may also be required to provide additional information or evidence.  

The Casework Team will request a response to the complaint from the relevant Faculty or Department. You will then be invited to comment on the factual accuracy of the response.  

Where the Casework Team conclude that further consideration of the complaint is necessary, or where it is not possible to reach a suitably informed decision without discussion with the parties concerned, the Casework Team will refer the matter to a meeting of the Complaints Panel (see Section 6 of the Student Complaints Procedure).  

Receiving the outcome  

You can expect to receive a written response to your complaint within a reasonable timeframe. However, if additional time is required, you will be advised of the reason for the delay and be provided with a revised timeframe.  

Your complaint may be: 

  • Upheld 
  • Partially upheld 
  • Not upheld  

If your complaint is upheld in full or in part, the Faculty or Department will implement any recommendations arising out of the investigation.  

What happens if I’m not happy with the outcome? 

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your Stage 1 Complaint, you may request a review of your complaint within ten working days of the date you received the outcome.  

Stage 2 Complaint – Request for Review  

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the formal investigation at Stage 1, you may apply for a review of your complaint. However, a request for a review of the Stage 1 decision can only be made if there is evidence that: 

  • There was a procedural irregularity in the way in which the decision was reached, 
  • New evidence that was not available during the consideration of the complaint and where it would have been impossible for that evidence to have been made available at the time, 
  • The decision was not reasonable given the circumstances of the case.  

What to do? 

Complete the Stage 2 Complaint Form within ten working days of the Stage 1 outcome. You will need to provide the grounds for why you believe you meet the criteria to request a review of your complaint and submit all supporting information and evidence with the form.

What happens next? 

A Senior Casework Officer with no previous involvement in your case will be appointed and will acknowledge receipt and, if the grounds have been met, a review will be initiated. This might mean a Complaint Review Panel is convened.  

If the grounds are not specified or deemed valid, you will receive a Completion of Procedures Letter explaining why.  

Receiving the outcome 

The review is not a reinvestigation into the substantive elements of your complaint but will look at the University’s handling of your complaint. You can expect to receive a written response, which will uphold the complaint in full, in part or dismiss it, and provide the reasons why.  

Next steps

If your Stage 2 Complaint is upheld in full or in part, and you do not wish to accept the offer of resolution, a Completion of Procedure Letter will be issued to you, which signals that you have exhausted the University’s internal procedures. This will state whether the University is happy to keep any offer open to you in the event that you refer your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). If your complaint is dismissed, your Stage 2 Outcome Letter will also serve as the Completion of Procedures Letter.  

Complaint to the OIA  

The OIA provides a free and independent scheme for the review of student complaints. Upon receipt of a Completion of Procedures Letter, you can make an application to the OIA to review your complaint within 12 months of the date of the letter.  

More information can be found at www.oiahe.org.uk.