Complaints Procedure Guide - Falmouth

This guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of the complaints process and how the SU Advice Team can support you throughout the journey.
Student talking to member of SU staff.
The information set out in our Complaints Procedure Guide is general guidance for Falmouth University students. It should not be seen as a definitive statement of the University's Complaints policy and procedure. A copy of the University's Complaints policy and procedure is available here.

The Students’ Union Complaints Procedure guide (Falmouth)

Here at the SU, our goal is to ensure that you have the best possible student experience. Part of this includes making sure your voice is effectively heard and that any issues you encounter during your time at Falmouth University are resolved or acknowledged. This guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of the complaints process and how the SU Advice Team can support you throughout the journey.

What is a Complaint?

According to the OIA (Office of Independent Adjudicators), a complaint is defined as:
"An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more students about something a provider has done or not done, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the provider."

Examples of issues that students may raise as complaints include but are not limited to:

  • The University failing to fulfil their obligations as outlined in course/student handbooks or a student charter.
  • Misleading or incorrect information in prospectuses, promotional material, or other information provided by the University.
  • Concerns regarding the delivery of a program, teaching, or administration, including cases where the delivery is carried out by a partner provider.
  • Inadequate quality of learning resources or facilities.
  • Unsatisfactory quality of services.
  • Events that significantly disrupt the normal delivery of a course, service, or other aspect of the student experience, such as industrial action or a public health emergency.
  • Complaints of bullying or harassment by a staff member.
  • Complaints about students will be referred to the Student Disciplinary Policy.
  • Concerns about policies or procedures related to financial support, immigration processes, or welfare support.
  • Concerns about services delivered by other organisations or contractors on behalf of the University that have impacted the student's learning experience.
How can the SU Advice Team help you?
The SU Advice Team is here to support you throughout the complaints process. We can help in the following ways:
  • Discuss and clarify: We're available to talk about your complaint and help you understand the steps involved.
  • Provide knowledge and guidance: We know the rules and procedures related to complaints. We can offer you valuable knowledge and guidance, helping you understand your rights and responsibilities within the process.
  • Review and suggest:If you share your complaint drafts with us, we can provide suggestions to make them clearer and ensure all necessary information is included. Please make sure to submit your complaint drafts in good time so that we can provide you with the most effective support.
  • Personalised support:While it is important that you write your complaint from your own unique perspective, we're here to provide support and guidance along the way. Our aim is to empower you with the necessary tools and resources, ensuring that your voice is heard effectively.

Remember, the SU Advice Team is committed to advocating for your rights and ensuring a fair complaints process. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance and support.

What is not a complaint….Other avenues to address concerns
A complaint from a student usually involves a direct impact on the person raising it. If you have a more general concern about the policies or actions of the university, there are other avenues to address those matters. You can reach out to the Student Voice Team or the SU Presidents to discuss your concerns and they can convey them to the university's senior management teams on behalf of the student body if applicable.

How does the complaints process work?

There are three steps to making a complaint:

Step 1: Early Resolution

First, try to resolve the issue informally by speaking directly to the people involved, if possible. This is a good way to address the problem before making a formal complaint, and a formal complaint may not be considered until this step can be evidenced. If you don't feel comfortable approaching the person directly involved, you can speak to your Head of Subject, Course Leader, Personal Tutor, or Student Adviser if you're studying online. Or book a chat with the SU Advice Team using this link to go over your concerns.

Timeframe: Start this step within 8 weeks of the incident that caused the complaint.

  • Quick Tip: Keep a written record of everything. It's best to use your university email account for communication. This way, you have a clear record of who you spoke to and when. If you talk to someone in person or on the phone, send them a follow-up email summarising what you discussed. These records can be useful evidence if you need to move to the next step. It may also help to put your thoughts in writing to take to meetings and to take notes during meetings.

Step 2: Formal Complaint

If your issue remains unresolved or you're not satisfied with the response in Step 1, you have the option to make a formal complaint. It's important to provide evidence of all the communication and steps you took in Step 1, so be sure to keep a record of everything.

Timeframe: To submit your formal complaint, remember these deadlines:

  • Within 10 working days (excluding weekends or bank holidays) after receiving a response to Step 1.
  • Within 20 working days if discussions from Step 1 haven't concluded. Complaints submitted after the deadline won't be considered unless you have a valid reason for the delay.

To ensure your complaint is considered, it's crucial to follow these steps and meet the deadlines.

When you make a complaint, this is how the process works:

Submitting the Complaint: You need to complete the Formal Complaint Form, which can be obtained from the university's Student Rules and Regulations page under the heading ‘Complaints’. Make sure to provide all relevant details and include any supporting evidence you have.

TO NOTE: Evidence is crucial for investigating your complaint effectively. So, it's really important to provide as much evidence as possible.

For help writing the complaint itself, please see our ‘SU Guide to Writing an Effective Complaint’ and if you still need support please book an SU Advice appointment with us here.

Acknowledgment: Once your formal complaint is received, you will receive an acknowledgment within five working days. This acknowledgment will confirm that your complaint has been received and provide you with the name of the person who will handle your case.

Investigation:An impartial member of staff, appointed by the university, will conduct a thorough investigation into your complaint. They will gather evidence, speak to relevant parties, and assess the situation objectively. The investigator may also arrange a meeting with you to discuss your complaint in more detail.


Outcome: Following the investigation, you will receive a written response within 40 working days. This response will outline the findings of the investigation, any actions taken, or recommendations made, and the university's proposed resolution. If the investigation takes longer than 40 working days, the university should inform you of the delay and provide an estimated timeframe for the response.


Step 3. Review

If you aren’t happy with the outcome of your complaint, you may be able to initiate Step 3 – Review.

You have 10 working days from the day you receive your Stage 2 Outcome. You will receive instructions on how to do this in your Stage 2 Outcome letter.

To access the review request form, you can visit the 'Complaints' section on the Student Regulations page.

It is important to note that a review can only be requested if you can show that there is:

  • An error in the complaints process or
  • Present new evidence that supports your original complaint and have valid reasons for not being able to present this evidence during Step 2.

Simply disagreeing with the Step 2 decision does not qualify for a review request.

Final Decision: An independent panel will review your appeal and make a final decision within 20 working days. Their decision will be communicated to you in writing and will represent the university's final position on the matter.

Falmouth University Resources regarding complaints:

You can find more information on the Complaints process on the Falmouth University Student dashboard here.

On the Student Regulations Page here, you can find the full Complaints Policy and Complaints Procedure as well as the Formal Complaint Form. You can also find all other policies and procedures; some may be relevant to your complaint.

Third-Party Consent

You can also find the Third party consent form on the Student Regulations page, which you can fill in if you wish to give consent for the University to share your details with a named third party. You can also give permission for a third party to act on your behalf if required, where there is a valid reason. This means you could have a friend, family member or someone from the SU Advice team to act on your behalf if necessary.

Please Note:

Kindly be aware that it is not possible to submit an anonymous complaint using this complaint process. Falmouth University emphasises the following in its complaints policy:

“1.5 This complaints policy is part of the University’s process of quality review and improvement. Complaints are considered as useful feedback rather than criticism and are valued.”

Students should feel confident that they will not face any disadvantages as a result of lodging a complaint, and it should not be necessary to submit a complaint anonymously.

However, if you wish to file an anonymous complaint specifically related to Hate Crime, Hate Incident, Harassment, Bullying, or Discrimination, you can utilise the Falmouth and Exeter Speaks Out service by accessing this link.

Through this service, you have the option to submit your complaint formally, informally, or anonymously.

Reached the end of the Complaints process and still not happy with the result?

Once you have exhausted the Universities complaints process, you should be issued with what’s called a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter. The University will no longer be able to consider your complaint.

But if you are unhappy with the result, you may wish to take your complaint to the OIA:

OIA – The Office of Independent Adjudicators for Higher Education.

Falmouth University subscribes to an independent scheme for the review of student complaints provided by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

You will need to raise any complaint with the OIA within 12 months of receipt of your Completion of Procedures letter. The OIA will normally only consider cases which have been through the University’s own procedures first.

To find out if you are eligible and how to make a complaint to the OIA, visit their website here.

The SU Guide to Writing an Effective Complaint

We know that writing a complaint can feel daunting, so we have provided a guide to give you some tips and useful points to consider when writing your complaint.

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