Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Complaints Resolution
Date Approved
31/07/2012 Revised 20/08/2020
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

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University Policy on: Student Complaint Resolution

Overtype Policy Name with the name of the policy. This must convey specifically, accurately and succinctly what the policy addresses eg Award of Honours, Study Leave.

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy provides for students to make a complaint to the University and to appeal a complaint outcome. It sets out the possible stages of a complaint process and explains a students right to appeal a complaint outcome.


This policy applies where a student makes a complaint about any matter in relation to their student experience, unless another process for resolution is prescribed in a specific Statute, regulation, rule or policy pertaining to the matter in question.

This must be in Normal, Policy style.

Provide a brief summary of the reasons for the policy and issues it addresses. This section is designed to stand alone. The aim is to provide the reader with enough information to make a decision about whether or not this is the policy they are looking for. It must not be longer than 200 words.

Example 1

This policy defines the nature and purpose of study leave provisions for academic staff and sets out eligibility criteria and other conditions that apply.

Example 2

This policy seeks to rationalise the award of honours across the University by addressing such issues as: entry standards, course content and structure, supervision, assessment, examination, grades, classifications, benchmarking and the maintenance and provision of documentation relating to these matters. It is based on resolutions of the Academic Board flowing from the 1999 report of the Honours Working Party.


the University means the University of Western Australia

complainant means a person, group or body who makes a complaint under this policy

complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction where a response is explicitly or implicitly expected

conflict of interest means a situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person due to a possible clash between their personal, professional or public interests

dismiss means to deny any further consideration of a complaint within the University, including the right to appeal

frivolous complaint means one that is trivial, superficial or senseless

good faith means a sincere intention to deal fairly with others and participate appropriately with the process

respondent means a person, group or body who is the subject of a complaint made under this policy

Responsible Officer is a role undertaken by an officer of the University, either by virtue of their position or by appointment by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate, that involves considering and responding to a complaint

Senior Management Representative means the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar, Chair of Academic Board, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Deans or members of the senior management group as determined by the Vice-Chancellor

serious matter is one which impacts, or has the potential to impact, on the health and safety of any person, the Universitys reputation or University operations.

student means a person who is enrolled at the University in a higher education course or an enabling course, or undertaking units through University Extension, other than on an audit-only basis

student representative means a person, group or body that is nominated by a student(s) or former student(s) to act as their representative or that makes a complaint under this policy in their capacity as a representative body

support person means a person who provides practical or emotional assistance to an person involved in a complaint process

vexatious complaint means one that is made or pursued without reasonable grounds or made to harass or annoy, to cause delay or detriment, or for any other wrongful purpose


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Policy statement:


1 Scope


1.1 This policy operates in conjunction with other governing instruments including, but not limited to, legislation, by-laws; and University Statutes, regulations, rules and policies. As such, the University may be required to:


(i) alter its management of a complaint;

(ii) constrain the outcomes provided for a complaint; or

(iii) refer a complaint to another process for resolution.

1.2 The University accepts complaints under this policy:


(i) from a:

a) student(s) or former student(s); or

b) student representative; and

(ii) in relation to the student experience which may extend to incidents, situations or activities that are not conducted on University premises or sites.


1.3 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may accept a complaint more than twelve (12) months following the incident, situation or activity that led to the complaint, if:


(i) the complaint can, despite the delay, be reasonably considered; and

(ii) one of the following applies:

a) the complainant can provide reasonable grounds for the delay; or

b) the complaint raises a serious matter.




A complaint made more than twelve (12) months following the incident, situation or activity that led to the complaint must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit.



1.4 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may consider an anonymous complaint if:


(i) it raises a serious matter; and

(ii) it can be reasonably considered.




An anonymous complaint must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit. However, prior to submitting a complaint, potential complainants should refer to the information at as various processes are available for reporting concerns anonymously, including the public interest disclosure process.



2 General principles


2.1 The University is committed to conducting complaint resolution that is:


(i) visible information about the process is easy to access;

(ii) simple the process is easy to understand and use;

(iii) timely complaints are managed efficiently with consideration of urgency;

(iv) objective complaints are considered and managed without bias;

(v) fair procedural fairness is afforded to all;

(vi) confidential information is kept confidential, as appropriate;

(vii) effective appropriate complaint outcomes are reached; and

(viii) informative complaint information is used for the continuous improvement of University operations.


2.2 The University encourages the informal and early resolution of complaints.


2.3 The University determines the complaint process.


2.4 Parties to a complaint process must:


(i) cooperate in good faith;

(ii) act in accordance with the UWA Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct;

(iii) respect the confidentiality of the complaint process; and

(iv) immediately disclose any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.


2.5 Parties to a complaint process must not be subjected to reprisals, discrimination or victimisation due to their involvement in the process.




Any concerns regarding process or the conduct of a person(s) involved in a complaint process, should be directed to the Responsible Officer for the complaint or to the Complaint Resolution Unit as soon as possible.


In addition to the above, staff must comply with their responsibilities under the University Policy on: Conflicts of Interest.





2.6 Parties to a complaint process are advised of the support and representation options available to them.





Students may seek free support and representation from the UWA Student Guild at any stage of a complaint process. They may also seek advice and/or support from the following units and services, as appropriate:

- Counselling and Psychological Services

- UniAccess (disability services);
- UniMentor (settling into University)

- STUDYSmarter (study skills)

- Inclusion and Diversity

- Chaplaincy.


Staff that are subject of a complaint or involved in the handling of a complaint may also seek advice and/or support at any stage of a complaint process from the following units and services, as appropriate:


- staff representative bodies, e.g. NTEU;

- Employee Assistance Program


Further information regarding support and representation is available from the Complaint Resolution Unit.



3 Complaint resolution stages


3.1 A person(s) should attempt, where possible and appropriate, to resolve their concerns directly with the respondent prior to making a complaint to a Responsible Officer under this policy.


3.2 A complaint process may comprise the following two stages, which must be conducted in accordance with the requirements in Appendix A.


(i) Stage 1 Informal Resolution; and

(ii) Stage 2 Formal Resolution.


3.3 Stage 1 must precede Stage 2 unless the Stage 2 Responsible Officer is satisfied that:


(i) the complaint raises a serious matter; or

(ii) there are valid reasons for not attempting Stage 1.


3.4 A Responsible Officer at Stage 1 and/or 2 may make or initiate inquiries, collect relevant information and exercise their own judgement, as appropriate, in an attempt to resolve a complaint.





All parties involved in a complaint process must comply with the procedural requirements in Appendix A, as applicable.


Forms required for Stage 2 Formal Resolution are available by accessing the links contained in Appendix A or at:

- (complainant use)

- (staff use)


Supporting information, including a guide to Stage 1 Responsible Officers is also available at:



4 Appeals


4.1 Formal complaint resolution under Stage 2 precedes a complainants right to appeal.


4.2 An appeal must be conducted in accordance with the requirements specified in Appendix B.


4.3 An appeal may be summarily dismissed by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate if the:


(i) appeal is made on grounds other than those specified in

Appendix B;

(ii) the complaint resolution process specified in this policy has not taken place; or

(iii) the appeal is considered to be frivolous or vexatious.


4.4 Subject to 4.3, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate appoints a Responsible Officer, who is typically a Senior Management Representative, to an appeal.


4.5 A Responsible Officer appointed to an appeal may make or initiate inquiries, collect relevant information and exercise their own judgement, as appropriate, to determine an appeal outcome.


4.6 The decision of the Responsible Officer under 4.5 is final within the University.




All parties involved in a complaint process must comply with the procedural requirements in Appendix B, as applicable.


Forms required for an appeal are available by accessing the links contained in Appendix B or at:

- (complainant use)

- (staff use)





5 Withdrawing a complaint


5.1 A complainant may withdraw their complaint or appeal at any time; however the University may continue to consider any of the matters raised.





A complainant must notify the Responsible Officer of their decision to withdraw their complaint or appeal in writing under 5.1 above. The Responsible Officer must confirm receipt of the decision and advise the complainant if the University will take any further action.




6 Dismissing a complaint


6.1 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may dismiss a complaint that they determine to be:


(i) frivolous;

(ii) vexatious;

(iii) lacking in substance; or

(iv) unable to be reasonably considered by the University.


6.2 The University does not normally dismiss a complaint solely because of minor procedural deficiencies.




A request to dismiss a complaint under 6.1 must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit.




7 Implications of complaint outcomes for other students


7.1 Where a complaint brings to light an error which may affect other students, the University will action all necessary changes to ensure that these students are not unduly advantaged or disadvantaged.



8 External resolution


8.1 Nothing in this policy precludes a person or the University from reporting an alleged criminal action to the police or other relevant authority.


8.2 A complainant may seek resolution of their complaint through an external body at any time.


8.3 The University reserves the right to suspend any internal complaint or appeal process where the matter has been referred to an external, relevant authority.



9 Record keeping


9.1 University staff must ensure that records in relation to a complaint are administered in accordance with the University Policy on: Records Management. Responsible Officers must also meet any applicable record keeping requirements specified in Appendices A and B.


Policy or Procedure?

Policies are statements of the principles1 which govern decision-making.

Procedures are the functional steps used to implement policies.

1 Principles in this context are to be understood as being both broad and detailed.

The policy statement makes clear the intent of the policy. It must be written in clear, precise and direct language. Short sentences are preferable. Any specialist words or acronyms must be defined at the beginning of the statement. (A guide to writing styles will be available soon.)

If the policy includes procedural elements you will need to identify these as Procedures by including this word above the relevant text. The procedures style from the styles drop-down list must be applied to the whole of the procedures text, including the word Procedures. Note: Administrative procedures can be approved by the relevant Director.

Related forms: (Link)

Provide links to any forms associated with the policy (eg Approved Leave form) and/or to information on on-line submission.

Note: Forms are a means through which policy is processed, not made. Forms must reflect policy and must not be used to create policy.


TRIM File No:


Insert the appropriate TRIM file number. All policies must have a TRIM file for storing information relating to policy development and other related information. Note this is not the policy number. Apply for a TRIM file number at http:/


Contact position:

Manager, Complaint Resolution Unit

State the name of the position that is to be contacted for any queries regarding the policy, eg University Secretary. Note: As this will link through to the Universitys Contact Directory, the position name must be given exactly as it appears in that directory.



Related Policies or legislation:

UWA Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

Statute No. 17: Student Discipline

Regulations for Student Conduct and Discipline

Charter of Student Rights and Responsibilities

UWA Collective Agreements

University Policy on: Review and Appeal of Academic Decisions Relating to Students

University Policy on: Waiver of rules and policies applying to courses

University Policy on: Fraud and Corruption

University Policy on: Managing Alleged Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Research and Allegations of Research Misconduct

University Policy on: Prevention and Resolution of Bullying on Campus

University Policy on: Sexual Harassment

University Policy on: Mental Health

Provide details of, and, if appropriate, web links to, other policies, legislation or committee resolutions that relate to the subject of the policy, if known, eg Statute(s), University General Rule(s). If unsure what these might be, try one or more of the following:

Conduct a search on TRIM.

Make an enquiry to Archives and Records.

Seek help from staff in the relevant section.

If related policies are stored in University Policy format on the University Policies site, please provide the relevant policy number(s).



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