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Student Appeals and Complaints Policy

1       Introduction 

ALO aims to treat all complaints and appeals appropriately, fairly and with regard to applicable law, and in line with ALO’s Equality and Diversity Policy and Disability and Additional Needs Policy.

Both the ALO academic appeals and student complaints procedures give due consideration to the needs of ALO students to raise issues of concern with the assurance that such issues will be treated in confidence and with impartiality. ALO has an obligation to ensure that students submitting a complaint or an appeal are placed on an equal footing procedurally; this may involve facilitating a student in making a complaint or an appeal.

There is the opportunity within both the complaints and appeals processes for the student to present their case. ALO however reserves the right to exclude or remove a student from a programme if he/she makes repeated, unfounded or vexatious appeals and/or complaints regarding the programme and/or its delivery where, in the opinion of ALO, his or her conduct is considered to be mendacious or frivolous. 

2       Academic appeals

ALO defines an appeal as ‘a request for a review of a decision taken by an individual or academic body charged with making decisions about students’ progression, assessment, and awards’. Appeals are normally, but not exclusively, related to decisions on admissions or decisions regarding Academic Malpractice or Mitigating Circumstances, however appeals cannot be made against academic judgment.                                            

2.1     The appeal process

The first stage is an informal stage where students raise their query in writing with the relevant person or department.

Nature of Appeal

 

Relevant person or department at stage 1

Appeal an assessment result

 

The assessor

Appeal and award result

 

Programme leader

Appeal an admissions decision

 

The admissions team

Appeal an academic malpractice decision

 

Module leader

Appeal a mitigating circumstances decision

 

Mitigating circumstances panel

The query must be raised in writing within 10 working days of the result/decision/outcome you wish to appeal against. All ALO staff are encouraged to deal with issues raised by students in a timely and effective manner and where no resolution can be reached at stage 1 to advise students of the appropriate next stage. After stage 1, students have the right to raise their issue as an appeal so long as it falls within the criteria listed within the supporting documentation as described in stage 2 (formal stage).

Stage 2 appeals must be submitted in writing, using the ‘Student Appeals Form’, within 10 working days of the stage 1 outcome.  

Nature of Appeal

 

Relevant person or department at stage 1

Appeal an assessment result

 

The internal verifier

Appeal and award result

 

Another programme leader or a member of the senior leadership team (not the principal)

 

Appeal an admissions decision

 

A member of the senior leadership team (not the principal)

 

Appeal an academic malpractice decision

 

Programme Leader

Appeal a mitigating circumstances decision

 

A member of the senior leadership team (not the principal)

 

 

ALO will consider the case and respond to the students accordingly. At any stage, if an appeal is upheld ALO will undertake to offer the appropriate remedial action, depending on the nature of the appeal. Stage 2 will be completed within 30 working days of receipt of the stage 2 appeal. Where no resolution can be reached at stage 2 the students will be advised on the appropriate next stage. After stage 2, students have the right to escalate their issue for consideration by the principal.

If all internal procedures are exhausted and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeal, then the case may be eligible for consideration by SQA, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales as appropriate. 

3       Student complaints

ALO defines a complaint as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more students about ALO’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by, or on behalf of ALO’. If a complaint is considered to be an appeal as defined in section 2 above, then the appeals process will apply and the student will be notified of this.  

When handling complaints, ALO is committed to resolving complaints in a timely manner in line with ALO’s complaints process and with due regard given to confidentiality and potential conflicts of interest.

3.1     The complaints process

A student should submit their own complaint. All ALO staff are encouraged to deal with issues raised by students in a timely and effective manner in line with ALO’s complaints process. Complaints should be raised as soon as possible and normally no later than 20 working days after the issue has arisen. I no resolution is reached at stage 1 (informal stage), the complaint should be forwarded to stage 2 of formal complaint. Every effort will be made to resolve complaints informally at source in the first instance. The department at the source of the complaint should respond to the stage 1 complainant as soon as possible and within 20 working days of ALO’s receipt of the informal complaint. 

If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome and wishes to proceed to stage 2, they must normally notify ALO within 20 working days of receiving the outcome of stage 1. At stage 2 (formal stage), ALO will allocate the complaint to an Investigating Officer  who is a member of Senior Staff who has had no previous involvement with the complaint. A written response will be issued to the student within 20 working days.

At any stage, if a complaint is upheld, then ALO undertakes to offer appropriate remedial action, depending on the nature of the complaint, and meet where appropriate incidental expenses necessarily incurred by the complainant. 

If all internal procedures are exhausted and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint, then the case may be eligible for consideration by SQA, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales as appropriate. 

4       Completion of Procedures 

For both student complaints and appeals, a Completion of Procedures Letter will be issued to the complainant or appellant at the end of the internal procedures, when there are no matters outstanding and the final decision has been reached by ALO regarding the matter raised. This will confirm one of the following complaint/appeal outcomes: 

  1. a) not upheld
  2. b) upheld
  3. c) partly upheld

The letter will contain the following information: 

  • Date of completion of internal procedures;
  • Summary of the issues considered;
  • The outcome of the investigation;

5       Handling personal information 

ALO will treat student information gathered on complaints and appeals confidentially, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Relevant case information will only be disclosed to those who need to investigate the matter and provide a response. Student information on complaints will be retained for a minimum of 15 months from the date at which the student has completed the complaints or appeals process). 

6       Additional information and support 

Issues may be raised which fall into the category of both a complaint and an appeal.  In such circumstances, ALO will inform and advise the complainant/appellant on which specific matters will be considered under which procedure. In such circumstances, ALO may suspend the consideration of an appeal until the complaints procedure has been completed. A formal complaint cannot be raised whilst a matter is in the process of being considered as an appeal.

7       Review

This policy is subject to review every 3 years

 

Signed by:       …………………………………………….

                        Louise Ainley

                        Principal

 

Date:              ……………………………………………..