Making a complaint

What is a complaint?

A complaint is any type of problem, concern or grievance relating to your studies, the University or University environment.  Students may raise a complaint if they feel they have been treated unfairly or inappropriately, either by a staff member or student of the University, or as a result of University policies and procedures.

Not all issues have to end up with a complaint.  Sometimes it is enough to give feedback or leave a suggestion.  The feedback you provide makes a real difference at UniSA and we are committed to listening to what you have to say and making real changes. 

Click here to provide feedback or to make a suggestion.

Before you make a complaint

It is best to seek advice quickly to avoid small problems or concerns growing into significant issues.  Talk to someone about your concerns and familiarise yourself with the policy and procedures that relate to your concerns.

If you are not clear about where to go or who to talk to, initially, you can contact Campus Central for advice or referral elsewhere.  Most importantly, you can access the helpful information and support you need within the University to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution of your complaint.

Student Advocates from the University of South Australia Student Association (USASA) have particular expertise in the area of academic and educational complaints and the implementation of the rights of students.  They can provide valuable advice and support and we encourage you to make contact with a Student Advocate to assist you with your complaint.

What is the process for making a complaint?

The University deals with complaints under the Student Complaints Resolution policy.  The policy includes specific processes for dealing with the following categories of complaint:   

A student may initiate a complaint about:

  • academic programs (content or structure)
  • course or program delivery
  • assessment methods
  • administrative procedures or decisions
  • access to resources
  • a decision made by a University committee or group

STAGE 1

Wherever possible, the complainant should first discuss their complaint with the staff member who has immediate responsibility. The complainant may do this independently or with the assistance of a support person.

STAGE 2

Where the complaint is not resolved through discussion, the complainant may lodge a complaint with the relevant manager/supervisor (relevant head of school, deans, directors of research institutes, division directors, directors of central units, convenor or chair of a University committee or group).

The manager/supervisor will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing within two working days of receiving the complaint.

If, following investigation, the complaint is not substantiated, the complainant will be advised in writing within five working days that the matter will not proceed further within the University.

If the matter cannot be resolved at the local level, either the complainant or the manager/supervisor may refer the matter to the relevant senior manager.

STAGE 3

If the matter remains unresolved following investigation by the senior manager, either the complainant or the senior manager may refer the matter to the Student Ombud.

STAGE 4:

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, the complainant may lodge a complaint with an external body such as those listed in clause 14.7 of the Student Complaints Resolution Policy

If a complaint is referred directly to the Vice Chancellor before the process outlined above has been undertaken, the Vice Chancellor will normally refer it to the relevant manager/supervisor.

 

STAGE 1

Wherever possible, the complainant should first discuss their complaint with the staff member concerned. The complainant may do this independently or with the assistance of a support person.

STAGE 2

Where the complaint is not resolved through discussion, the complainant may lodge a complaint with the relevant head of school/director. If the head of school/director determines that the complaint is trivial and/or vexatious, they will advise the complainant in writing within five working days that the matter will not proceed further within the University.

Any allegations of misconduct/serious misconduct by a staff member will be referred to the Director of Human Resources for consideration, investigation and action under the University’s relevant industrial instruments. The relevant Deputy Vice Chancellor/Pro Vice Chancellor will also be advised of the allegations.

Complaints that do not involve misconduct/serious misconduct are most appropriately resolved in accordance with the following process. The head of school/director will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing within two working days of receiving the complaint.
  • discuss the matter with the respondent.  Where the complaint has been lodged in writing, the respondent should be provided with a copy of the complaint
  • discuss the complaint with the complainant, with the aim of resolving the complaint
  • provide a written confirmation of the outcomes of the complaint to all parties within five working days of the resolution of the complaint.

If the matter cannot be resolved at the local level, either the complainant or the head of school/director may refer the matter to the relevant senior manager.

STAGE 3

If the matter remains unresolved following investigation by the senior manager, either the complainant or the senior manager may refer the matter to the Student Ombud.

STAGE 4

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, the complainant may lodge a complaint with an external body such as those listed in clause 14.7 of the Student Complaints Resolution Policy.

If a complaint is referred directly to the Vice Chancellor before the process outlined above has been undertaken, the Vice Chancellor will normally refer it to the relevant manager/supervisor. 

STAGE 1

Wherever possible, the complainant should first discuss their complaint with the student concerned. The complainant may choose to do this independently or with the assistance of a support person. 

STAGE 2

Where the complaint is not resolved through discussion, the complainant may lodge a complaint with the relevant head of school. If the head of school determines that the complaint is trivial and/or vexatious, they will advise the complainant in writing within five working days that the matter will not proceed further within the University

The head of school will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing within two working days of receiving the complaint.
  • discuss the matter with the respondent.  Where the complaint has been lodged in writing, the respondent should be provided with a copy of the complaint
  • within 10 working days write to the complainant, the respondent and other relevant staff as appropriate to arrange an informal meeting for the purpose of resolving the issue.
  • provide a written confirmation of the outcomes of the complaint to all parties within five working days of the resolution of the complaint.

If the matter cannot be resolved at the local level, either the complainant or the head of school may refer the matter to the relevant pro vice chancellor.

Please note:

Some complaints may involve matters that are subject to University of South Australia Statute No. 7 – Student misconduct. Where the head of school considers that Statute 7 might apply, they must seek advice from the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

If the Vice Chancellor determines that Statute 7 is applicable, the complaint will be addressed using the procedures outlined in Statute 7.

If the Vice-Chancellor determines that Statute 7 is not applicable, the complaint will return to the head of school for resolution.

STAGE 3

If the matter remains unresolved following investigation by the pro vice chancellor, either the complainant or the pro vice chancellor may refer the matter to the Student Ombud.

STAGE 4

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, the complainant may lodge a complaint with an external body such as those listed in clause 14.7 of the Student Complaints Resolution Policy.

If a complaint is referred directly to the Vice Chancellor before the process outlined above has been undertaken, the Vice Chancellor will normally refer it to the relevant manager/supervisor. 

If a student alleges bullying, discrimination or harassment while on a placement, the University will investigate. Where those allegations are substantiated, as determined by the University, the University will:

  1. act as far as is reasonable and possible to protect the student
  2. work with the other organisation to investigate and resolve the complaint
  3. take precautions to prevent recurrence.

For more information about the process, please contact your divisional and/or school office.