Complaints

A student can raise a complaint with the Proctors under the University Student Complaints Procedure in relation to the following:

  • University administrative and support services (including departmental facilities and central facilities such as libraries, counselling etc.)
  • University academic services and support (departmental teaching, supervision etc.)

If their concern does not fit into the above, then it is likely that there is a separate procedure they should follow, for example any concerns over decisions made by an academic body e.g. board of examiners, transfer and confirmation etc. should be pursued under the University Academic Appeals Procedure. The student-facing site provides a list of the different avenues available for students who wish to make a complaint  

The University Student Complaint procedure is divided into three parts: stage 1 is a local resolution managed where the complaint has arisen, stage 2 is consideration by the Proctor's, and stage 3 is a review of the Proctor's decision by a Review panel member. Both stage 2 and stage 3 are managed by the Proctors' Office

It is expected that each stage of the process should be exhausted before moving on to the next stage; therefore, both staff and students are expected to take every opportunity to resolve a complaint before escalating the matter further.

In many cases the concerns a student raises can be resolved with an immediate explanation and/or solution at the local (i.e departmental) level. Stage 1 of the complaints procedure is therefore in place in order to facilitate this.

When a department is contacted by a student who has concerns, the underpinning principle that should be assessed is what was promised compared to what was delivered. Any concerns that involve academic judgment, such as the quality of academic provision, are out of scope. Further guidance for stage 1 complaints  have been developed for departments which also answers a number of questions around the stage 1 process, including how to consider the complaint and what should be included in the outcome response. A Covid-19 supplement for stage 1 complaints document has also been developed to answer some specific questions around the on-going pandemic. Departments should read these for support in responding to concerns raised by students.

Students are expected to raise a complaint as soon as possible after the matters giving rise to the complaint have occurred. This is to ensure that it can be investigated effectively and that any action can be implemented as quickly as possible to set things right. There isn’t a time limit set for stage 1; however, stage 2 of the complaints procedure is clear that a complaint should be made, at the latest, within three months of the matters being complained about having occurred. Therefore students should raise their concerns under stage 1 before the three months’ timeframe. If the stage 1 consideration will take it beyond three months, the student or department should discuss this with the Proctors' Office.

If a student is dissatisfied by the outcome of stage 1 they have the right to bring this matter to the Proctors' consideration under stage 2 of the  University Student Complaints Procedure.

If a student is dissatisfied by the outcome of stage 1 they have the right to bring this matter to the Proctors' under stage 2 of the  University Student Complaints Procedure.

Students should complete a Complaint Form and include with it the outcome from stage 1 of the complaints procedure, and any supporting evidence they wish for the Proctors to take into consideration.   

AProctor will open a formal investigation of the complaint which will be carried out by one of the permanent Proctors' Office caseworkers. As part of the investigation details of the complaint, including the student’s identity, and what the complaint is about, will typically be shared with those responsible for the matters complained about.  They will be asked to comment on the complaint and provide any relevant information which the Proctors should take into consideration. The Proctor will normally try to complete their investigation within 30 days of receiving the form although this timeframe can be extended. Once the investigation is completed the student will receive a written outcome explaining what the Proctor has done to investigate their complaint, their decision and the reasons for it, and any directions or recommendations to address the complaint. The department involved will also receive an update in terms of outcome and if there are any directions or recommendations to address the complaint.

If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of their stage 2 complaint they can request a review of this decision under stage 3 of University Student Complaints Procedure.

If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of their stage 2 complaint they can request a review of this decision under stage 3 of the University Student Complaints Procedure.

Stage 3 is not a reconsideration of the student’s original complaint. It is a request for a member of the Review panel to review the Proctor's investigation and decision in light of the University Student Complaints Procedure. A review can only be made on the following grounds:

  1. there was a procedural irregularity or error in the Proctor’s investigation;
  2. the Proctor’s decision was unreasonable (the student must identify which aspects of the Proctor’s decision they consider to be objectively unreasonable and explain why);
  3. the student was not provided with clear reasons for the Proctor’s decision; or
  4. the student has material evidence which the Proctor has not yet seen (the student must have a valid reasons for not having provided this earlier and must explain this in the review request).

Simply disagreeing with the outcome is not enough to request a review.  

Time limits apply and the review request form should be submitted within 10 working days of the date of the outcome letter from stage 2 of the procedure. 

A Reviewer will be appointed from the review panel and they will not have had any involvement with the previous stages of the complaint, and an investigation will be carried out by a different permanent caseworker from the Proctors' Office.  The Reviewer will normally try to complete their investigation within 10 working days of receiving the form although this timeframe can be extended. Once the investigation is completed the student will receive a written outcome explaining the Reviewer’s decision and the reasons for it, and any directions or recommendations to address the complaint. The department will only be contacted if a decision is made that a new investigation at stage 2 be carried out.

If the review request is not upheld and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome they can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.  Details of how to do this will be included in the outcome letter of the stage 3 review request.  

Contact us


Proctors’ Office
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD

Email: casework@proctors.ox.ac.uk
Web: www.proctors.ox.ac.uk