Different types of complaints are dealt with by different areas of the University, and some complaints may be taken to authorities outside of the University.
If you have been sexually assaulted or harassed, remember that it is not your fault. There are options available to file a report or lodge a complaint. SUPRA caseworkers can give you confidential advice and support. What you decide to do is always your choice.
Complaints regarding discrimination, harassment and bullying can be lodged with the University, or with the NSW Ombudsman, NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, or the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Read the following articles for information about how to make these types of complaints:
Academic appeals versus complaints
The university has two separate processes through which students can raise concerns: academic appeals, and complaints.
An academic appeal allows you to raise concerns over, or request a review of, a specific academic decision, or a breach in due process in making an academic decision. There are shorter timeframes for an appeal than a complaint. Academic decisions include:
Serious issues with the course content, exam conditions or format can be included in an appeal only when you can clearly show how these issues impacted on your mark for an assessment.
If you lodge both a complaint and appeal in the same unit of study at the same time, your appeal will not be considered until the complaint is resolved. This means a complaint can delay the release of your results or ability to graduate.
A complaint is a way to raise an issue with the faculty or the University over matters such as discrimination, harassment and bullying, or against the quality of teaching or assessment. Making a complaint is not the appropriate process to change your mark. If you do not want to challenge your mark but you want to raise other issues, it is your right to make a complaint to the faculty or to the University via the Student Affairs Unit (SAU). Complaints could also be made about:
Students are encouraged to try to resolve issues informally. You may contact your unit coordinator or the Associate Dean of Education in your faculty as a starting point. If this is not appropriate in your situation, or if the response from your faculty is not satisfactory, you can lodge a complaint with the SAU. You can make a complaint verbally or in writing.
The University is committed to resolving complaints in a fair and timely manner. If you make a complaint to the SAU, they should notify you of the next relevant steps within 5 working days. At the preliminary stage, the SAU may decide that the complaint is not able to be handled by the University and will notify you with reasons. If the SAU decides that the complaint can be handled by the University, you will be assigned a case manager who will start a preliminary assessment to determine appropriate action.
A complaint that could constitute an act of misconduct, or could involve criminal behaviour, will be referred to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Registrar).
Read more information about complaints, procedures for lodging a complaint, investigations, and timeframes on the University website.
Complaints to do with intellectual property are also considered by the University. Contact us for advice on intellectual property from our legal service.
If you are doing a group work assessment and experience conflict with your group members, try to discuss your issues directly with your unit coordinator, or contact us for advice. Try to resolve group work issues as they come up and document your efforts. Keep emails or messages sent between your group members or with your unit coordinator, record a clear timeline of incidents, and always keep a copy of relevant documentation.
Group work complaints are different from making an academic appeal if you receive a low mark for your group work assessment. Contact us if you need assistance.
In most cases, you have 12 months from the time of the incident to make a complaint to the SAU. You can submit a complaint later than this date, but the SAU may decide not to act if no further incidents have occurred in the past 12 months.
When you receive your written report on the outcome of the investigation into your complaint, the SAU will advise you if you have the right to appeal the decision. If eligible for an appeal, you will need to contact the SAU within 10 days of being notified of the outcome.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, you may also choose to contact external bodies such as the NSW Ombudsman, NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, or the Australian Human Rights Commission. Contact us for advice on these options.
If you receive notice that a complaint has been made about you, we strongly recommend that you contact us for advice. We can help you understand the complaint and what your options are.
The University has two free helplines to assist students with any questions or concerns.
Taking the first step to lodge a complaint can be hard. It is reasonable to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious. If you need someone to talk to, the University’s Student Counselling Service may be helpful.
You can always contact us for support and guidance from our professional caseworkers.
All policies are available on the University Policy Register:
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Last updated February 2022.
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