Guide to Effective Complaining

Are you unhappy with some aspect of your course? Has the University failed to follow its procedures in some way? Or has a member of staff or another student behaved inappropriately towards you? A complaint may be an effective way to address the problem.

You can find the University Complaints Procedure in the University Calendar. It is designed to deal with problems ranging from the quality of teaching or supervision to bullying and harassment. You can use the procedure whether your complaint is against a member of staff or another student.

GUSRC has also produced a Guide to the University Complaints Procedure leaflet.

What Should I Do?

The first stage of the University Complaints Procedure is known as “frontline resolution” and this simply requires you to raise the complaint with a member of University staff. This does not have to be in writing although it may be helpful to submit the complaint in this way as this may assist you in presenting your complaint as concisely as possible. Should you wish to put the complaint in writing the University has a Stage 1 Complaint form that you can download from their website: Stage 1 Complaint form. You don’t have to use the form if you are more comfortable writing a letter or an email. The time limit for submitting a complaint is normally 6 months from the date you first became aware of the problem although in some circumstances an extension of up to 12 months may be permitted by the University’s Clerk of Senate.

Stage 1 complaints should be investigated and a decision provided within 5 working days however in certain circumstances a further 5 working day extension can be requested by the University where information or staff members are unavailable. At any time during this process, if you are at all unsure, want to talk it over with someone or would like to request representation, please contact The Advice Centre and our trained and experienced staff will be happy to help.

What if I’m unhappy with the decision?

If you’re unhappy with the resolution offered after this first stage of the procedure you can ask the University to further investigate your complaint. This is known as Stage Two and to proceed to this stage you simply have to put your complaint directly to the Senate Office at the University by:

In writing: The Senate Office, The University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ.
By telephone: 0141 330 3292.
In person: The Senate Office, Gilbert Scott Building, University of Glasgow.

It may be helpful for you to read our Tips for Writing a Stage 2 Complaint guide. If your complaint is about harassment, the University has specially trained Harassment Advisors who may be able to help: Equality and Diversity Unit Harassment Advisors.

Complaint Form Checklist

Use this list to check that you’ve included all the information that the Complaint Investigator will look for before you submit the complaint form.

  • Have you included your name, address, phone number and email address?
  • Have you clearly stated what the problem is that you are complaining about?
  • Have you given enough detail for the investigator to understand the situation?
  • Have you included your evidence? If you’ve mentioned things like a doctor’s letter or excerpts from your course handbook, you should include these.
  • Read through your complaint — have you stuck to the facts? Is your complaint easy to read? If not, it’s likely the complaints investigator will also think this.
  • What remedy have you asked for? Is it realistic?

Once you’ve checked that you have everything, you’re ready to submit your complaint. If you’re not sure about anything in your complaint form, one the Advice Centre staff members can read through it to see if they think you’ve missed any important details.

After Stage 2…

If you have been through Stages 1 and 2 and are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with, you may wish to consider a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. Click here to view the SPSO complaints leaflet.