Student complaints

A complaint is any type of problem, concern or grievance about your studies, student life, the University or the University environment.

What is (not) a complaint?

Resolving your complaint 

In most cases, concerns can be simply and quickly resolved by raising them directly with the person or area responsible. In instances where issues cannot be resolved (see Steps 1 & 2), a complaint can be made (see Step 3).

Step 1. Try to resolve the issue yourself

The University has a range of processes and resources for dealing with common issues experienced by students which can be accessed online.

If you can't find what you are looking for or remain dissatisfied with the outcome of this step, you may wish to proceed to Step 2.

How do I make a complaint?
How will my complaint be resolved?

Step 2. Speak to someone

Complaints are often resolved quickly and satisfactorily through University Assisted Resolution. This usually involves raising the issue with staff closest to the matter. You will not suffer detriment or disadvantage as a direct result of raising your concern with the University.

If your issue relates to a course you are taking, the first step is to speak with your course tutor or coordinator. If you are not comfortable having a conversation with course staff for any reason, Schools have a Grievance Officer whose role is to assist you with any issues related to your studies at UNSW. Below are some tips on who to contact and what to say:

  • Depending on the nature of the complaint, relevant staff members may include:

    • Staff at the Faculty Student Centre
    • Manager of Student Administration (not Faculty based)
    • Course Coordinator
    • School Grievance Officer
    • Head of School

    If you are a Higher Degree Research Student, relevant staff members may include:

    • Your supervisor
    • School Postgraduate Coordinator or Head of School
    • Associate Dean Research or Director of Postgraduate Research in your Faculty
    • Dean of Graduate Research
  • When sending an email to the relevant staff member, be sure to include the following details

    • Context.
      • Explain what your complaint is.
        • Does it involve a staff member, a course, a piece of assessment, or a service provided?
    • Reason.
      • Explain the reasons why you think the decision or action you are complaining about is unfair or wrong
        • Does it break any codes or policies
    • Solution.
      • Think about what outcome you are seeking.
        • What would resolve your complaint?
  • You can access further support through Arc

    Contact Arc

Step 3. Make a complaint

If you have tried Steps 1 and 2 and your concerns have not been resolved, you can lodge a complaint here.

Below are some tips when making your complaint.

  • Be timely. The Complaints Management & Investigations Policy & Procedure requires that you must lodge a complaint within 12 months of becoming aware of the issue. The sooner you lodge a complaint, the quicker the issue can be considered and hopefully resolved. For complaints and reports submitted prior to 12 February 2024, please refer to the relevant complaint and misconduct procedures.
  • Provide evidence. To better support your claim, include as much evidence as possible. This might include copies of email exchanges, notes of discussions you had, assessment pieces or marking schemes. The university will assess your complaint and may request more detail from you to assist in deciding how to handle the issues you raise
  • Be respectful. You might be dissatisfied about something, but please be mindful in communicating your concerns with courtesy and respect to the complaint handlers assigned to your case. They are available to respond to any questions you have about the complaint process.

The University respects the wishes of those wanting to remain anonymous. However, please keep in mind the University’s ability to investigate an anonymous complaint may be limited and you will also not be provided the outcome of your complaint.

What happens to my information?

What happens now?

Once you make a complaint online, you will receive acknowledgement within 24 hours. The Conduct and Integrity Office (CIO) will look to resolve the complaints process within 20 to 30 working days. Some complaints may take longer and you'll be kept informed.

To start, the CIO will assess your complaint to see what steps have been taken at a local level. Except in very serious cases, if you have not attempted to resolve your issue through Steps 1 and 2 above, you will be referred back to the appropriate local area to attempt to resolve the issue.

Once the CIO have assessed that you have taken all reasonable attempts to resolve your issue, we will contact you to confirm the issues you are concerned about and the outcomes you are seeking. If the concerns raised cannot be resolved through mediation, the CIO may commence an investigation into your complaint.

  • If you are dissatisfied with the way your complaint was handled, you may request an Internal Review. An Internal Review may only be requested on the grounds of a lack of procedural fairness in the investigation process, or where there is new and compelling information not available at the time of the investigation.

    You can only request an internal review at the conclusion of the complaints process, and the request must be received within 20 working days of receiving the determination outcome. In exceptional circumstances, the Independent Review Officer (IRO) may extend the deadline of 20 working days following a request for an extension from the student or staff member in writing.

    It is NOT possible to request an Internal Review on the merits of a decision.

    Will I be treated fairly?

    Procedural fairness is about ensuring that:

    • People are provided with all necessary details of the complaint that has been made against them
    • People are given a proper opportunity to respond to the complaint against them before a decision is made (including as to any mitigating circumstances)
    • Persons involved in deciding an outcome do not have any bias or conflict of interest
    • A decision is based only on relevant evidence.

    Once a determination has been made by the appropriate decision maker, you may request an Internal Review.

    For more detailed information, please see the Complaints Management & Investigations Policy & Procedure.

  • You can lodge a complaint to an external agency at any time.

    External agencies include:

    Please keep in mind that some external agencies may require you to have lodged an internal complaint first.

  • You may withdraw your complaint at any time by notifying the University in writing. In most instances the University will take no further action. However, in some circumstances the University may act on matters raised in or related to the complaint or refer the matter to an external agency, where authorised or required to do so by law. In these situations, the University may notify the complainant.

  • UNSW will maintain a record of all complaints on Case IQ, at all stages of the complaints handling process. Records may also be kept of local level complaints. The University respects the wishes of those wanting to remain anonymous. Please keep in mind, however, UNSW's ability to investigate an anonymous complaint may be limited. 

    Learn more about UNSW's Privacy Statement

The new UNSW Code of Conduct & Values takes effect from Friday 17th May 2024
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