2020-21

Complaints Handling Procedure

A revised version of the Complaints Handling Procedure is under development and will be adopted in line with the SPSO's revised Model Complaints Handling Procedure. The revised Complaints Handling Procedure will be published in due course, for full implementation by April 2021.

29.1  Introduction

29.1.1  The University has a duty to maintain and enhance the quality of its provision and to provide an effective system for handling complaints. Complainants should have a full opportunity to raise individually or collectively, matters of proper concern to them without fear of disadvantage and in the knowledge that privacy and confidentiality will be respected.

29.1.2  This procedure operates in accordance with the University’s Equality & Diversity Policy which requires that complainants will be treated fairly and consistently without discrimination.

29.1.3  Students should be aware that the Complaints Handling Procedure is not the only means of raising concerns with the University. For instance, concerns about the quality or organisation of programmes of study might most effectively be referred in the first instance to the appropriate Staff/Student Committee through the Class/Year Representative or the Students' Representative Council (SRC) representative for the relevant area. Students can also discuss matters informally with the Head of School, Head of the Administrative Department or Support Service, an Adviser of Studies, Supervisor, Course Co-ordinator, College Administrator or other member of staff without invoking the Complaints Handling Procedure.

29.2  Definition of a complaint

29.2.1  For the purpose of this procedure, a complaint may be defined as:

'An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more individuals about the standard of service, action or lack of action by or on behalf of the University.'

29.2.2  A complaint may relate to:

  • the quality and standard of service;
  • failure to provide a service;
  • the quality of facilities or learning resources;
  • treatment by or attitude of a staff member, student or contractor;
  • inappropriate behaviour by a staff member, student or contractor;
  • the failure of the University to follow an appropriate administrative process;
  • dissatisfaction with University policy, although it is recognised that policy is set at the discretion of the University.

29.2.3  The definition of a complaint is very broad and the list above is not exhaustive. However, not every concern raised with the University is a complaint. For example, the following are not complaints:

  • a routine, first-time request for a service;
  • a request under the Data Protection legislation;
  • a request for information or an explanation of policy or practice;
  • a response to an invitation to provide feedback through a formal mechanism such as a questionnaire[1] or committee membership[2] will generally not be treated as a complaint;
  • an insurance claim;
  • an issue which is being, or has been, considered by a court or tribunal;
  • an attempt to have a complaint reconsidered where the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure has been completed and a decision has been issued;
  • a grievance by a member of staff which is eligible for handling through the Grievance Procedure;
  • a challenge to an academic judgement or an appeal against a decision concerning  progress, assessment or award. (However, if the complaint concerns the quality of supervision or teaching which the complainant considers contributed to a failure to achieve a required academic standard, the matter should be considered under the Complaints Handling Procedure.)

29.2.4  These issues will be dealt with under the alternative appropriate processes rather than under the Complaints Handling Procedure. It should be noted, however, that some situations can involve a combination of issues, some are complaints and others are not, and each should be assessed on a case by case basis.

29.3  Who can make a complaint?

29.3.1  The Complaints Handling Procedure covers complaints from anyone who receives, requests or is affected by the University’s services. This includes, although is not limited to:

  • a student’s experience during their time at the University (all referred to as ‘students’ through the remainder of this document);
  • members of the public, where they have a complaint about matters which are (or which were at the time the issue arose) the responsibility of the University;
  • members of the public who are applying for admission to the University and whose complaint does not relate to academic judgement;
  • members of staff, where they are users of services provided by the University.

29.3.2  The basic processes for investigating complaints are the same for students, members of staff, members of the public and applicants to the University.

29.3.3  Sometimes individuals may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint on their own. The University will accept complaints brought by third parties, as long as the individual affected is under the age of 18 or has given their personal consent under the requirements of the Data Protection legislation. The giving of personal consent usually means that the individual affected must give clear written authority for the third party to act on their behalf.  Complaints made by a third party will be dealt with according to the same timescales.

Joint Complaints

29.3.4  In the case of a complaint raised jointly, a lead person shall be identified who will represent those raising the complaint.

Anonymous Complaints

29.3.5  Complaints submitted anonymously will be considered if there is enough information in the complaint to enable the University to make further enquiries. If, however, an anonymous complaint does not provide enough information to enable the University to take further action, the University may decide not to pursue it further.  However, the University may give consideration to the issues raised, and will record the complaint so that corrective action can be taken if appropriate.

29.3.6  Any decision not to pursue an anonymous complaint will be authorised by the Deputy Secretary. If an anonymous complaint contains serious allegations, it should be referred to the Deputy Secretary immediately.

29.4  Complaints involving more than one department

29.4.1  If a complaint relates to the actions of two or more service departments / Schools / Colleges,

a)  in the case of a Stage One complaint: the staff member receiving the complaint must confer with the other area(s) to decide who will take the lead on the complaint. 

b)  in the case of a Stage Two complaint: the Deputy Secretary will determine who will act as the Complaint Investigator.

The complainant will be told to whom the complaint is being passed and given their contact details. Coordination may still be required between different areas of the University to ensure that the complaint is fully addressed in a single response.  The nature of the complaint may also require parallel procedures to be initiated (such as an academic appeal or disciplinary procedures).

29.5  Complaints involving other organisations or contractors who provide a service on behalf of the University

29.5.1  If an individual complains to the University about the service of another organisation, but the University has no involvement in the issue, the individual should be advised to contact the appropriate organisation directly.

29.5.2  Where a complaint relates to a University service and the service of another organisation the University will investigate its own involvement in the matter in accordance with the Complaints Handling Procedure. When entering into a formal agreement relating to the provision of services (such as with partner institutions and contractors) the University will, where reasonable, include the requirement that the other organisation will investigate complaints – or co-operate with University complaints investigations – in accordance with the principles of this procedure. Where there is no formal agreement between the University and the other organisation, the University will make the other organisation aware of the terms of the Complaints Handling Procedure and request the other organisation’s cooperation in addressing complaints in accordance with the principles of the Complaints Handling Procedure.

29.5.3  If enquiries to an outside organisation in relation to the complaint are required, care will be taken to comply with Data Protection legislation and the guidance on handling personal information. Such complaints may include, for example:

  • A complaint made in relation to provision of third-party services, for example IT systems.
  • A complaint made about a service that is contracted out, such as catering services.
  • A complaint made to the University about a student loan where the dissatisfaction relates to both the service the University has provided and the service the Student Awards Agency for Scotland has provided.

29.6  Time limit for making complaints

29.6.1  Complaints should be raised with the University as soon as problems arise to enable prompt investigation and swift resolution. The time limit for raising a complaint with the University is six months, starting from when the complainant first became aware of the problem, unless there are special circumstances for requesting consideration of a complaint beyond this time.

29.6.2  Beyond the six-month time limit, the University will exercise discretion in the way that the time limit is applied.  This will take account of the time limit within which a member of the public can normally ask the SPSO to consider complaints, which is 12 months from when the person first became aware of the issue about which they are complaining. An extension to the six-month time limit shall be granted only where the Deputy Secretary accepts as reasonable, the explanation for the delay in presenting the complaint.

29.7  The Complaints Handling Procedure

29.7.1  The Complaints Handling Procedure is intended to provide a quick, simple and streamlined process with a strong focus on early resolution by empowered and well-trained staff.

29.7.2  The procedure involves up to two stages:

a)  Frontline resolution seeks to resolve straightforward complaints swiftly and effectively at the point at which the complaint is made, or as close to that point as possible.[3]

b)  Investigation is appropriate where a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of frontline resolution, or where frontline resolution is not possible or appropriate due to the complexity or seriousness of the case.

29.8  Stage One: frontline resolution (to be completed within five working days[4])

29.8.1  Anyone who has a complaint is encouraged to raise it initially at the point of, or as close to the point of, becoming aware of it as possible and to raise it with the department in which the issue arose. Complaints at this stage may be made face-to-face, by phone, in writing or by email. However, when the complainant is in possession of documentation that is relevant to the complaint a copy should be provided at the point that the complaint is made.

29.8.2  The purpose of frontline resolution is to attempt to resolve as quickly as possible complaints which are straightforward and require little or no investigation. Complaints at this stage of the process may be addressed by any relevant member of the University’s staff and may be handled by way of a face-to-face discussion with the complainant, or by asking an appropriate member of staff to deal with the complaint.

29.8.3  Members of staff to whom complaints are made will consider some key questions:

  • Is this a complaint or should the individual be referred to another procedure?
  • What specifically is the complaint (or complaints) about and which area(s) of the University is /are involved?
  • What outcome is the complainant hoping for and can it be achieved?
  • Is this complaint straightforward and likely to be resolved with little or no investigation?
  • Can the complaint be resolved on the spot by providing an apology /explanation / alternative solution?
  • Can another member of staff assist in seeking a frontline resolution?
  • What assistance can be provided to the complainant in taking this forward?

29.8.4  If responsibility for the issue being complained about lies in the staff member’s area of work, every attempt will be made to resolve the problem at source. If responsibility lies elsewhere, the staff member receiving the complaint will liaise with the relevant area rather than simply passing the complainant on to another office.

29.8.5  Where the complaint relates to the conduct of a particular member of staff, the member of staff will be given the opportunity to provide to the complaint handler a response to the complaint.

29.8.6  Resolution may be achieved by providing an on-the-spot explanation of why the issue occurred and/or an apology and, where possible, information about what will be done to stop any identified service failure happening again in the future.

Extension to the five day timeline

29.8.7  Frontline resolution should normally be completed within five working days, though a resolution may be achieved more quickly. In exceptional circumstances a short extension of time may be necessary to increase the possibility of resolving the complaint at the frontline resolution stage (for example, by obtaining information from other areas where no single area of the University is responsible for the issue(s) being complained about). Requests for an extension will be agreed if the Complaints Resolution Office accepts as reasonable the grounds presented by the complaint handler. The complainant will be told of the reasons for extending the deadline and advised of the new timescale for resolution. The maximum extension which can be granted is five working days (i.e. not more than 10 working days in total from the date of receipt of the complaint).

Closing the complaint at the frontline resolution stage

29.8.8  The outcome will be communicated to the complainant. This may be face-to-face, by phone, in writing or by email. There is no requirement to send out further written communication to the complainant, although where the outcome has been communicated in person, it would normally be expected that the outcome would be confirmed in writing. The response to the complainant must address all the topics for which the University is responsible, and explain the reasons for the decision.

29.8.9  Once a decision has been issued, the record of the complaint will be forwarded to the Complaints Resolution Office, including details of the decision reached.[5] The complaint should then be closed.

29.8.10 Where a complaint is upheld, the University should defray reasonable and proportionate incidental expenses necessarily incurred by the complainant in the process of pursuing the complaint.

29.9  Stage Two: investigation (straightforward cases to be completed within 20 working days)

29.9.1  These complaints may already have been considered at the frontline resolution stage, or they may be complaints identified upon receipt as appropriate for immediate investigation.

29.9.2  A complaint will be addressed under the investigation stage when:

  • frontline resolution was attempted, but the complainant remains dissatisfied. This may be after the case has been closed following the frontline resolution stage. In such a case the complainant must make the complaint, explaining in what respect(s) they remain dissatisfied;
  • the complainant refuses to recognise or engage with the frontline resolution process and is insistent that the issue be addressed by a more senior member of staff, except where the Deputy Secretary determines that this view is unreasonable and that frontline resolution must be attempted in the first instance;
  • the issues raised are complex and will require detailed investigation. In such cases the complainant may choose to submit the complaint to Stage 2, stating the reasons for not having initially pursued the complaint under Stage 1. Alternatively, a member of staff receiving a Stage 1 complaint may consider that the matter should be immediately referred to the Complaints Resolution Office for consideration as a Stage 2 investigation;
  • the complaint relates to issues that have been identified by the University as high risk or high profile.

29.9.3  Special attention will be given to identifying complaints considered high risk or high profile, as these may require particular action or may raise critical issues requiring direct input from senior management. Potential high risk /high profile complaints may:

  • involve a death or serious injury;
  • involve serious service failure, for example major delays in service provision or repeated failures to provide a service;
  • generate significant and on-going press interest;
  • pose a serious operational risk to the Institution;
  • present issues of a highly sensitive nature.

29.9.4  Stage 2 complaints must be raised through the Complaints Resolution Office:

By email: complaints@glasgow.ac.uk

In writing: The Complaints Resolution Office, The University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ.

By telephone: 0141 330 6441.

In person: The Complaints Resolution Office, Gilbert Scott Building, University of Glasgow.

29.9.5  For a complaint that will be considered at the investigation stage, the complainant will be asked to complete the complaint form to provide full details of the complaint and any relevant documentation. If they choose not to write it down and would prefer to complain in person, the complaint form can be completed with them and a letter to confirm the scope of the complaint issued to them.

29.9.6  Information and documentation material to the complaint should be provided by the complainant and by the University while taking account of the privacy, confidentiality and reasonable interests of any relevant third parties. Unauthorised electronic recordings of previous meetings or events will not be admissible as evidence for the complaint.

29.9.7  The purpose of conducting an investigation is to establish all of the facts relevant to the points made in the complaint and to provide a full, objective and proportionate response to the complainant that represents the University’s definitive position.

What the University will do when it receives a complaint for investigation

29.9.8  The University will allocate the complaint to an Investigator. It is important to be clear from the start of the investigation stage exactly what is being investigated, and to ensure that both the complainant and the Investigator understand the scope of the investigation. In discussion with the complainant, three key questions should be considered:

1.  What specifically is the complaint (or complaints)?

2.  What does the complainant want to achieve by complaining?

3.  Do the complainant’s expectations appear to be reasonable and achievable?

29.9.9  If the complainant’s expectations appear to exceed what the University can reasonably provide or are not within the University’s power to provide, the complainant will be advised of this as soon as possible in order to manage expectations about possible outcomes.

29.9.10 Where the complainant does not engage with reasonable attempts by the Investigator to clarify the scope of the investigation it will not be possible for the University to pursue the complaint investigation.

29.9.11 The Investigator will seek a response from the department(s) to which the complaint relates. Where the complaint relates to the conduct of a particular member of staff, the member of staff will be asked to provide to the Investigator a response to the complaint.

29.9.12 Details of the complaint will be recorded on the system for recording complaints. Where the complaint has been through the frontline resolution stage this will be shown in the complaints log. At the conclusion of the investigation the log will be updated to reflect the final outcome and any action taken in response to the complaint.

Timelines

29.9.12 The following deadlines will be used for cases at the investigation stage of the Complaints Handling Procedure:

  • complaints will be acknowledged in writing within three working days;[6]
  • the University will provide a full response to the complaint as soon as possible, and for straightforward cases not later than 20 working days from the time that the complaint was received for investigation.

Extension to the timeline

29.9.13 Not all investigations will be able to meet this deadline; for example some complaints are so complex that they will require careful consideration and detailed investigation beyond the 20 working days timeline. Where there are clear and justifiable reasons for extending the timescale (e.g. volume of documentation to be considered, number of responses to the complaint to be obtained), the Deputy Secretary will exercise judgement and will set time limits on any extended investigation, with the agreement of the complainant. If the complainant does not agree to an extension but it is unavoidable and reasonable, then the Deputy Secretary must consider and confirm the extension. In such circumstances, the complainant must be kept updated on the reason for the delay and given a revised timescale for bringing the investigation to a conclusion. However, the University will always strive to deliver a definitive response to the complaint within 20 working days where this is practicable.

29.9.14 Where an extension has been agreed, this will be recorded appropriately and the proportion of complaints that exceed the 20 working day-limit will be evident from reported statistics.

Mediation

29.9.15 Some complex complaints (where, for example, the complainant and/or other involved parties have become entrenched in their position) may benefit from a different approach to resolving the complaint. Using mediation can help both parties to understand what is driving the complaint, and may be more likely to result in a mutually satisfactory conclusion being reached. Whilst the University does not have a formal mediation service, parties wishing to consider alternatives to a complaint investigation should enquire about this with the Investigator. Where other means of dispute resolution are attempted, the complaint investigation will be suspended. If the matter is not resolved through mediation revised timescales will be agreed.

Closing the complaint at the investigation stage

29.9.16 The outcome of the investigation will be communicated to the complainant and to the subject of the complaint in writing together with details of the investigation, an explanation of the grounds for the decision and copies of relevant documentation. Where a complaint is upheld, the University should defray reasonable and proportionate incidental expenses necessarily incurred by the complainant in the process of pursuing the complaint.

29.9.17 The decision, and details of how and when it was communicated to the complainant, will be recorded on the system for recording complaints. The complainant will also be advised about:

  • their right to ask the SPSO to review the complaint;
  • the time limit for doing so;
  • how to contact the SPSO.

29.10 Independent external review (SPSO)

29.10.1 Once the investigation stage has been completed, the complainant is entitled to ask the SPSO to look at their complaint. The SPSO considers complaints from people who remain dissatisfied at the conclusion of the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure. The SPSO looks at issues such as service failure and maladministration (administrative fault) as well as the way the University has handled the complaint.

29.10.2 The SPSO requires the University to use standard wording to inform complainants of their right to ask the SPSO to review the complaint.

Information about the SPSO

29.10.3 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the final stage for complaints about public services in Scotland. This includes complaints about Scottish universities. Complainants who remain dissatisfied with the University after its complaints process can ask the SPSO to look at the complaint. The SPSO cannot normally look at complaints:

  • which have not been all the way through the university’s complaints handling procedure;
  • more than 12 months after the complainant became aware of the matter complained about; or
  • that have been or are being considered in court.

29.11 Governance of the Complaints Handling Procedure

Roles and Responsibilities

29.11.1 All staff will be aware of:

  • the Complaints Handling Procedure;
  • how to handle and record complaints at the frontline resolution stage;
  • who they can refer a complaint to if they are unable to handle the matter personally;
  • the need to try and resolve complaints early and as locally (within their department) as possible and;
  • their clear authority to attempt to resolve any complaints they may be called upon to deal with.

29.11.2 Senior management will ensure that:

  • the University’s final position on a complaint investigation is signed off by the Deputy Secretary in order to provide assurance that this is the definitive response of the University and that the complainant’s concerns have been taken seriously;
  • it maintains overall responsibility and accountability for the management and governance of complaints handling within the University;
  • it has an active role in, and understanding of, the Complaints Handling Procedure (although not necessarily involved in the decision making process of complaints handling);
  • mechanisms are in place to ensure a consistent approach to the way complaints handling information is managed, monitored, reviewed and reported at all levels in the University; and
  • complaints information is used to improve services, and this is evident from regular publications.

29.11.3 Principal: The Principal provides leadership and direction to the University. This includes ensuring that there is an effective Complaints Handling Procedure with a robust investigation process which demonstrates that organisational learning is in place. The Principal may delegate responsibility for the procedure, but must receive assurance of complaints performance by way of regular reporting. They should also ensure that complaints are used to identify service improvements, and that these improvements are implemented, and learning fed back to the wider organisation as appropriate.

29.11.4 Deputy Secretary: As a senior officer they may be responsible for signing response letters to complainants and therefore must be satisfied that the investigation is complete and that the response addresses all aspects of the complaint.

29.11.5 Assessors for Complaints: At least two Assessors for Complaints will be appointed by the Senate to assist the Principal and the Deputy Secretary in the discharge of their responsibilities in relation to the Complaints Handling Procedure, including taking an overview of, and advising on, the Complaints Handling Procedure and, where appropriate, acting as Investigator.

29.11.6 Complaints Investigator: The Complaints Investigator is a suitably trained staff member responsible for the conduct of complaints investigations, who has no material interest in the complaint and who is involved in the investigation and the co-ordination of all aspects of the response to the complainant. This may include preparing a comprehensive written report, including details of any recommended procedural changes to service delivery. Complaints Investigators must have a clear remit to investigate effectively and reach robust decisions on more complex complaints. This also requires clear direction and support from senior management on the extent and limits of discretion and responsibilities in investigating and resolving complaints, including the ability to identify failings, take effective remedial action and apologise, where it is appropriate to do so.

29.11.7 All staff: A complaint may be made to any member of staff. All staff must, therefore, be aware of the Complaints Handling Procedure and how to handle and record complaints at the frontline resolution stage. They should also be aware of who to refer a complaint to, in case they are not able to personally handle the matter. The University encourages all staff to try to resolve complaints early, as close to the point of service delivery as possible, and quickly to prevent escalation. 

29.11.8 SPSO liaison officer (or officer with this responsibility): This staff member’s role may include providing complaints information in an orderly, structured way within requested timescales, providing comments on factual accuracy on behalf of the University in response to SPSO reports, confirming recommendations have been implemented, and providing evidence to verify this.

Complaints about senior staff

29.11.9 Complaints about senior staff can be difficult to handle as there may be a conflict of interest for the staff investigating the complaint. When serious complaints are raised against senior staff it is particularly important that the investigation is conducted by an individual who is independent of the situation. The University will ensure that there are strong governance arrangements in place that set out clear procedures for handling such complaints.

29.12 Recording, reporting, publicising and learning

29.12.1 Valuable feedback is obtained through complaints. One of the objectives of the Complaints Handling Procedure is to identify opportunities to improve provision of services across the University. Staff must record all complaints so that the University can use the complaints data for analysis and management reporting. By recording and using complaints information in this way, the causes of complaints can be identified, addressed and, where appropriate, training opportunities can be identified and improvements introduced.

Recording complaints

29.12.2 To collect suitable data, it is essential that all complaints are recorded in sufficient detail. The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • name and contact details of the complainant and student matriculation number (if applicable);
  • date of receipt of the complaint;
  • how the complaint was received;
  • category of complaint;
  • staff member responsible for handling the complaint;
  • department to which the complaint relates;
  • action taken and outcome at frontline resolution stage (if applicable);
  • date the complaint was closed at the frontline resolution stage (if applicable);
  • date the investigation stage was initiated (if applicable);
  • action taken and outcome at investigation stage (if applicable);
  • date the complaint was closed at the investigation stage (if applicable);
  • underlying cause and remedial action taken (if applicable);
  • response times at each stage.

29.12.3 The University has a structured system for recording complaints, their outcomes and any resulting action so that the complaint data can be used for internal reporting as indicated below.

Reporting of complaints

29.12.4 The University has a system for the internal reporting of complaints information, managed by the Complaints Resolution Office. Regularly reporting the analysis of complaints information helps to inform management of where improvements are required. Information reported internally will include:

  • performance statistics, detailing complaints volumes, types and key performance information, for example on time taken and stage at which complaints were resolved;
  • the trends and outcomes of complaints and the actions taken in response including examples to demonstrate how complaints have helped improve services.

29.12.5 This information will be reported at least quarterly to the Senior Management Group and at least annually to Court and Senate.

Publicising complaints performance information

29.12.6 The University will publish on a quarterly basis a summary of complaints outcomes, trends and actions taken to improve services, with a focus on case studies and examples of how complaints have helped improve services. This may also include positive feedback from students and members of the public.

29.12.7 This demonstrates the University’s approach to improving services on the basis of complaints and shows that complaints can influence the University’s services. It also helps ensure transparency in the University’s complaints handling service and will help to demonstrate to students and members of the public that the University values their complaints.

29.12.8 The University will report on complaints handling performance annually in line with SPSO requirements. This includes performance statistics showing the volume and type of complaints and key performance details, for example on the time taken and the stage at which complaints were resolved. Information will be made available on the Complaints Resolution Office website.

Learning from complaints

29.12.9 The Complaints Investigator will always try to ensure that all parties involved understand the findings of the investigation and any decisions made. Senior management will ensure that the University has procedures in place to act on issues that are identified. These procedures facilitate:

  • using complaints data to identify the root cause of complaints;
  • taking action to reduce the chance of any identified failings happening again;
  • recording the details of corrective action in the complaints file;
  • systematically reviewing complaints performance reports to improve performance.

29.12.10 The analysis of management reports detailing complaints performance will help to ensure that any trends or wider issues which may not be obvious from individual complaints are quickly identified and addressed. Where the University identifies the need for service improvement:

  • an officer (or team) will be designated the ‘owner’ of the issue, with responsibility for ensuring that any identified action is taken;
  • a target date will be set for the action to be implemented, and followed up on to ensure delivery within this timescale;
  • where appropriate, performance in the academic or service area will be monitored to ensure that the issue has been resolved.

29.13 Maintaining confidentiality

29.13.1 Confidentiality is an important factor in conducting complaints investigations. The University will always have regard to any legislative requirements; for example, data protection legislation and also internal policies on confidentiality and the use of complainant information. Complaints will be handled with an appropriate level of confidentiality and information released only to those who need it for the purposes of investigating or responding to the complaint. No third party will be told any more about the investigation than is strictly necessary in order to obtain the information required from them. Complainants will also be advised of the confidential information in their case and will be required to respect and preserve the confidentiality of such information.

29.13.2 While privacy and confidentiality will be respected, it will be necessary (except in the case of anonymous complaints) to reveal the identity of the complainant in the course of the investigation and the complainant should be informed at the outset that the details of the complaint and their identity will be revealed to individuals from whom a response is required in the process of investigating the complaint.

29.13.3 Where a complaint has been raised against a student or member of staff and has been upheld, the complainant will be advised of this. However, it would not be appropriate to share specific details affecting specific students or staff members, particularly where disciplinary action is taken.

29.14 Managing unacceptable behaviour

29.14.1 It is recognised that people may act out of character in times of trouble or distress. The circumstances leading to a complaint may result in the complainant acting in an unacceptable way. Complainants who display difficult behaviour may still have a legitimate grievance, and the University will therefore treat all complaints seriously and assess them properly.

29.14.2 The actions of complainants who are angry, demanding or persistent may result in unreasonable demands on time and resources or unacceptable behaviour towards the University’s staff. The University therefore has in place the Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour to protect staff from such unacceptable behaviour. This includes the requirement for the University to inform the complainant in writing of any action it intends to take under the Code, the complainant’s right of appeal, and any procedures for reviewing any decision to restrict contact.

29.14.3 The University reserves the right to suspend the Complaints Handling Procedure if the complainant behaves inappropriately. In such cases the Deputy Secretary or their nominee shall suspend procedures and advise the complainant accordingly.

29.14.4 The University is not under obligation to investigate frivolous, vexatious or malicious complaints or complaints previously dealt with or to enter into further correspondence if a reasonable response has been provided.

29.15 Supporting the complainant

29.15.1 Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by the services the University provides has the right to access the Complaints Handling Procedure. Complainants who do not have English as a first language may need help with interpretation and translation services. Other complainants may have specific needs which the University will seek to address to ensure easy access to the Complaints Handling Procedure by making reasonable adjustments to help the complainant.  There are a number of support services available which can provide helpful support to those who wish to pursue a complaint with the University.

29.15.2 The SRC Advice Centre is an advice, information and representation service provided by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) for all Glasgow University students. The Advice Centre offers free and confidential advice.

29.15.3 Information on harassment and bullying is provided in the Dignity at Work and Study Policy. International students may seek advice from the International Student Adviser. Research students may seek advice from the Graduate School Administrator.

29.16 Supporting the subject of the complaint

29.16.1 Where the complaint is against a student, the student complained against may be represented by the Students' Representative Council or by any other appointed representative.

29.16.2  Where the complaint is against a member of staff, the member of staff may be represented by a Union official or any other representative.


[1] For example, annual monitoring, or a formal consultation.

[2] For example, Staff-Student Liaison Committee, or student representation on a School Learning & Teaching Committee.

[3] For clarity, the term ‘frontline resolution’ refers to the first stage of the complaints process.  It is not intended to reflect any job description within the University; rather it refers to the process which seeks to resolve complaints as soon as possible.

[4] For the purposes of this Procedure, Monday to Friday are counted as working days except where the University is closed for a public or other Holiday (as listed at https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/humanresources/all/worklife/publicholidays/public/). Saturdays and Sundays are not counted as working days.

[5] The complaint handler should complete and submit the form at www.gla.ac.uk/staff/logstage1complaint.

[6] For the purposes of this Procedure, Monday to Friday are counted as working days except where the University is closed for a public or other Holiday (as listed at https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/humanresources/all/worklife/publicholidays/public/). Saturdays and Sundays are not counted as working days.

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