Curriculum and Quality

FAQs

Who can advise and help me with my complaint?

The University provides many resources for students who need assistance with complaints. The Tasmania University Union has Student Advocates who are able to help you with any issue that affects your study. Complaints & Discipline staff can assist you with any procedural advice and direct you to other support services. There are also Student Counsellors, Disability Advisers, International Student Advisers, Cross-Cultural Support Services and Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers who can help you - see Who else can help at UTAS.

The procedures for complaints resolution and the Self-Help Checklist also provide information on what to do and who may be able to help you.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about any academic or administrative matter or a student support service provided by the University. (This does not include a complaint about student discipline or a complaint about harassment or discrimination.) See the definition of complaints in Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints (PDF 92KB).

What is the difference between an informal and a formal complaint?

An informal complaint is where you attempt to resolve the issue yourself directly with the person involved (a Student Advocate can help you). See also the Self-Help Checklist. A formal complaint is where you invoke Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints in your written complaint (See Part 2 of Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints (PDF 92KB)). Formal complaints are dealt with by Heads of School/Heads of section.

A Student Advocate can help you try to resolve a complaint informally, or with making a formal complaint.

I have a specific issue that I want to complain about. Who deals with this area?

The Self-Help Checklist outlines some common areas of complaint and who to contact initially. It also sets out what to do if you wish to progress your complaint to the formal stages. A Student Advocate can help you with your complaint. Governance & Legal staff can also advise on complaints procedures or where you can seek help.

What types of complaints are covered by Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints?

A complaint can be about any academic process or policy matter, any administrative process or policy, or student support service provided by the University.

There may be initial complaints procedures that you need to undertake before you can lodge a formal complaint under Ordinance 8 - see the Self-Help Checklist.

What types of complaints are NOT covered by Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints?

Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints does not cover complaints about student discipline or a complaint about harassment or discrimination.

How can I complain about issues not covered by Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints?

Student Discipline
Part 4 Appeals under Ordinance 9 - Student Discipline (PDF 78KB) allows a student to appeal against a student discipline decision (about academic or general misconduct).

Harassment and Discrimination
If your complaint is about harassment and discrimination you can talk to a Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officer. See the University of Tasmania Harassment and Discrimination Complaints Procedure.

Can I formally complain using Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints if I am no longer a student?

Unless you began a formal complaint before you graduated or withdrew from your studies, you cannot make a complaint under Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints.

How will my complaint be assessed and decided on? What rights will I have in the process?

You have the right to meet with the Head of School / Head of Section to discuss your complaint and have the right to take a support person with you (that person can be anyone except a lawyer). The Head of School/Section will talk to you about your complaint and to anyone else related to the complaint. The Head of School / Head of Section will make a decision and inform you of the decision in writing. (see Student Complaints procedures and time-frames)

What are the principles of natural justice and what is procedural fairness?

The principles of natural justice, also known as procedural fairness, involve:

  • ensuring a student has the right to be heard and are provided with and have the right to respond to, any information presented or considered in reaching a decision;
  • ensuring any decision is free from bias; and
  • ensuring any decision is made after a reasonable investigation has been conducted into the issue and relevant evidence considered.

The NSW Ombudsman provides a useful "Fact Sheet" explaining procedural fairness, see Procedural fairness fact sheet (PDF 41.1KB).

How long does it take to have a formal complaint resolved?

The Ordinance of Student Complaints sets out the time limits for each part of a formal complaints process. See time-frames to see how long it should take. These time limits are indicative and while the University will do its best to meet the time limits, sometimes this is not possible. If time limits cannot be met the University will let you know what is happening and will resolve things as soon as possible.

I have started a formal complaint but it can be resolved. Do I have to continue?

You don't have to complete the formal complaints process if you can reach a resolution of your complaint with the parties involved in the meantime. You can withdraw a complaint at any time during the complaints resolution process and in this case the matter will be deemed to be resolved. You will need to withdraw your complaint in writing to Complaints & Discipline.

I have been through the University's internal complaints process but I am still not satisfied. What can I do now?

If you have exhausted the internal avenues of complaint within the University complaints procedures and your complaint has not been settled, you can contact the Ombudsman or, for complaints involving alleged discrimination, the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

I am a Vocational Education and Training (VET) student. Does Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints apply to me?

Yes, Ordinance 8 - Student Complaints can assist you to make a formal complaint in relation to administrative and academic services. Complaints relating to assessment, recognition of prior learning and competency decisions are covered by the VET Assessment Appeals Procedure. You may also seek assistance with your complaints externally by contacting the Student Advocates at the Tasmania University Union or the National Complaints Hotline or the relevant State Training Authority.