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Complaints and Appeals Procedures
Student Handbook > Policy Register  >  Policies & Procedures  >  Student-Non-Academic Policies & Procedures  >  Complaints and Appeals
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1.   Governing policy
 
The Complaints and Appeals Procedures (“procedures”) relate to the Complaints and Appeals Policy (“policy”). They describe how students and staff are to enact the policy, including the steps to be taken in managing the complaints and appeals process.
 
2.   Scope
 
These procedures are relevant to all enrolled students, prospective students and past students and any staff involved in a complaint or appeal.
 
3.   Procedures
 
3.1  These procedures sets out the three key internal processes that may be used to resolve a complaint or appeal:
 
Informal resolution – self-managed 
In the first instance, students are encouraged to seek an informal settlement of their issue at the local level, where it is reasonable and appropriate to do so, before a formal complaint or appeal is submitted. 
 
Complaint 
Where a matter cannot be informally resolved, or if a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of a decision,  the student may lodge a formal complaint using the appropriate online form. Students are entitled to lodge a complaint about any academic or administrative matter, including (but not limited to):
  • the conduct and performance of staff;
  • services and facilities provided by or managed by the Institution; 
  • conduct and performance of other students;
  • review of a decision made by the Institution;
  • failure to adhere to relevant policies and procedures.
Former students must submit a complaint within six months of completing their studies.
 
Appeal 
Where a student is not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint the student may initiate a formal appeal provided there are sufficient grounds  as follows:
  • failure to provide natural justice or procedural fairness;
  • where the decision is inconsistent with a published policy or procedures;
  • where there are new or different grounds and/or supporting evidence to those already considered by the original decision maker;
  • the penalty was not commensurate to the incident; and/or
  • on other reasonable grounds, as determined on a case by case by the Chair of the Appeals Committee, beyond the above.
External review
Students who are not satisfied with the outcome or the management of a decision made by the Institution may make a complaint to an appropriate external agency at any time. External agencies normally only act if all the internal processes have been completed.

Table 1. Internal complaints and appeals resolution process

Process

Responsibilities

Timeframe

1.  Informal resolution procedures

  1. Students are encouraged to resolve their concern informally either via email or in person (between to two parties) if it is reasonable and appropriate to do so. This option is not encouraged for students with a grievance relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment. See item 2.c.
  2. Students can also seek advice and support from Student Services, the wellness team, faculty staff or operations staff.
  3. Students seeking a review of a final grade or assessment mark of a subject must refer to the Student Review of Assessment Results Procedures in the first instance.
  4.  All requests to informally resolve a concern, either in writing or in person, will be addressed within five working days.
  5. If a student is dissatisfied with the informal resolution outcome they may lodge a formal complaint.

Lecturers and faculty staff such as the Program Manager

Student Services

Wellness team

Operations staff

 

Requests addressed within five working days

2.  Complaint procedures

  1. If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal resolution process they may lodge a complaint.
  2. Complaints must be lodged on via the online form with any supporting documentation within 20 working days of the issue occurring or upon notification of the initial decision (extensions of this timeframe may be granted in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Institution). This timeframe does not apply for students seeking to complain about sexual assault or sexual harassment.
  3. Students seeking to make a complaint relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment are encouraged to seek assistance from the Student Success Centre Manager who can provide confidential support, counselling, advice on the complaints process and referral to external agencies as appropriate.
  4. The completed online form (and any supporting documentation) is acknowledged and registered within two working days.
  5. Complaints are dealt with by the relevant Associate Dean for academic matters or the Deputy Registrar (Engagement and Student Lifecycle) for non-academic matters. If the complaint relates to the person involved in the complaint handling process it will be referred to the relevant line manager.
  6. An investigation is conducted, which may involve formal meetings/interviews where those involved in a complaint have a right to present their case. The investigating officer takes heed to past precedents and closely follows the Institution’s policies and procedures to ensure outcomes are consistent.
  7. The outcome of a complaint is made and communicated within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint. The student is notified if the investigation takes longer than 10 working days.
  8. If a complaint outcome is in the favour of the student, the Institution will immediately implement the decision or recommendation and/or take the preventative or corrective action required by the decision and notify the complainant accordingly.
  9. However, if the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint they may submit an appeal provided there are sufficient grounds as outlined in these procedures.
  10. Student Services to set up work task to check progress after 20 working days. If an appeal has not been submitted then the case is closed.
  11. Student Services to record outcomes and all correspondence in Student Record Management System.

Associate Dean for academic matters

Deputy Registrar (Engagement and Student Lifecycle) for non-academic matters

Lodge within 20 working days

Acknowledgement within two working days.

Investigation and outcome within 10 working days

3.  Appeal procedures

  1. If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint they may lodge an appeal provided there are sufficient grounds and additional evidence as outlined in these procedures.
  2. Appeals must be lodged on the online form within 20 working days of notification of the complaint decision (extensions of this timeframe may be granted in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Institution). This timeframe does not apply for students seeking to complain about sexual assault or sexual harassment or those with any other compelling and compassionate reasons.
  3. Students seeking to appeal an outcome relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment are encouraged to seek assistance from the Student Success Centre Manager who can provide confidential support, counselling, advice on the appeals process and referral to external agencies as appropriate
  4. The completed online form and any supporting documentation is acknowledged and registered within two working days.
  5. Appeals must include the grounds for the appeal as outlined in paragraph 3.1 of these procedures and additional evidence to support the appeal application.
  6. All types of appeals will be considered by the Appeals Committee, which is convened normally within 10 working days of receipt of the appeal. The student is notified if the investigation takes longer than 10 working days. The Appeals Committee takes heed to past precedents and closely follows the Institution’s policies and procedures in reaching a decision to ensure outcomes are consistent.
  7. The student is notified in writing of the outcome of the appeal within 10 working days of a decision being reached. The correspondence will state a student’s right to access an external review of the decision and will provide full details of the external review options.
  8. If an outcome of an appeal is in the favour of the student, the Institution will immediately implement the decision or recommendation and/or take the preventative or corrective action required by the decision, and notify the complainant accordingly.
  9. The outcome of the Appeals Committee is the final internal avenue of complaint and appeal resolution process. The student can access the external review as outlined in Paragraph 4 of these procedures.
  10. Student Services to record outcomes and all correspondence in Student Record Management System.

Appeals Committee

Lodge within 20 working days

 

Appeals Committee normally convened within 10 working days

 

Acknowledgement within two working days.

 

Students notified of Appeals Committee decision within 10 working days

 

 

 

 

 

 
4. External review 
 
4.1 When students are not satisfied with the outcome of a complaint or appeal, they may seek a review with an external body or agency.
 
4.2 Student may choose to:
  • Request external mediation through the Resolution Institute’s Student Mediation Scheme.  The Institution covers any cost to students utilising this service.
  • Seek a reassessment by an External Reviewer.  The Institution has provided for independent external reviewers to consider decisions on students’ complaints or appeals and this option is available upon request. The Institution covers any reasonable cost to students utilising this service.
  • International students may seek a review by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. If the external review relates to unsatisfactory course progress or attendance decision, the student must notify the Institution of their intention within 10 working days of the notification of the internal appeal outcome. If the student fails to notify the Institution, the Institution will report the cancellation of the student’s enrolment to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
  • Lodge a complaint with the relevant external agency as follows:

Complaint type

External agency

Discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, vilification

Australian Human Rights Commission

NSW Anti-Discrimination Board

FEE-HELP, intellectual property rights, matters relating to competition and consumer legislation

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

OR

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

Refunds, contracts such as Letter of Offer, Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

NSW Office of Fair Trading

Campus safety

Safework NSW

VET Student Loans program and VET FEE-HELP scheme

Commonwealth Ombudsman

Privacy breach and refunds

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

Higher Education Standards, ESOS and National Code compliance

TEQSA

 
5. Student conduct 
 
5.1 Students must make complaints and appeals responsibly and must not seek to raise an issue for trivial or vexatious reasons. The Institution will not tolerate unreasonable behaviour, exaggeration or dishonesty, unreasonable persistence after an investigation has closed, or unrealistic or disproportionate demands. Students are expected to provide serious reasons and factual evidence in support of a complaint or an appeal or request for review. Vexatious complainants will be dealt with in accordance with the General Misconduct Policy and General Misconduct Procedures.
 
6. Compliance and monitoring 
 
6.1 In accordance with TEQSA Standard 2.4, the approach to complaint and appeal handling is intended to be timely, free of cost, consistent, fair, without reprisal and handled confidentially and all subsequent actions are intended to be achieved in good time. Also, in accordance with TEQSA Standard 7.2, information about grievance handling will be easily accessible to students as will information about advocacy and external sources for further appeals.
 
6.2 Additionally, reports on complaints and appeals are provided to relevant departments and committees to ensure that the Institution acts systemically on frequent sources of complaint for students.
 
7. Reporting 
 
7.1 The Executive Management Group (EMG) monitors non-academic complaints and appeals and refers matters for improvement to departments. It may also make amendments to the Complaints and Appeals Procedures as required.
 
7.2 The Learning and Teaching Committee monitors academic related complaints and appeals and reports to Academic Board with recommendations for improvement as required. 
 
7.3 An annual summary report is submitted to the Board of Directors by the CEO  for consideration of possible actions to address underlying causes of all student complaints (both non-academic and academic).
 
8. Records management 
 
8.1 A record of all complaints, notes on actions, notes of appeals committees and outcomes of complaints and appeals will be maintained on Student Record Management System by the Registrar’s Office.
 
9. Related documents
  • Assessment Policy
  • Complaints and Appeals Policy
  • General Misconduct Policy
  • General Misconduct Procedures
  • Student Review of Assessment Results Procedures
  • Academic Integrity Policy
  • Academic Integrity Procedures
See Appendix 1 attached as a PDF to the main Complaints and Appeals Procedures page. 
 
 
Approved by the Board of Directors on 14 September 2020.
 

Further reading
Name View
Complaints and Appeals Flowchart v1.pdf