Student Complaints Procedure

This Students Complaints Procedure gives effect to a decision of the Executive Board to put in place procedure whereby registered students of the Institute, if unhappy with the quality of service provision, can raise their concerns in a timely, transparent and efficient manner. This Procedure applies to all registered students of the Institute, individually or as groups. This procedure does not cover Academic Reviews and Rechecks for which there is a separate procedure. (www.gmit.ie/academic).

No student will be disadvantaged by availing of this Procedure in good faith. However the Institute expects that in raising possible issues of complaint, students themselves will have observed their obligations and responsibilities in keeping with the Student Code of Conduct. The Institute also expects that students will not engage in frivolous or vexatious complaints, or make false allegations. The following list indicates indicative examples of the type of complaint covered by this procedure:
• Problems arising within the learning experience
• Deficiencies in information published by the Institute
• A failing in an Institute service, academic or non-academic
• Inadequate facilities Difficulties with a member of Institute staff.

Any person involved in a complaint has the right to be accompanied and represented by a person of his/her choice from within the Institute community or by a student/trade union representative at every relevant stage of the procedure.
All complaints must be made within 7 days of the occurrence of the event complained of unless exceptional circumstances prevented the making of the complaint within that 7 day period, in which case a complaint must be made within 28 days of the date.

Stage 1 – Informal Resolution
1. The student should first try to address the issue with the person complained of or with the immediate manager/supervisor of the service/event complained of. Where a student feels uncomfortable or unable to address the issue informally with the person concerned the student may document the complaint in writing and continue to have it dealt with informally.
2. Stage I will generally be an oral, informal process, which will be recorded, though not formally, and retained in the respective school/administration unit.
3. If the complaint is not resolved locally and informally then Stage II of the procedure, outlined below, should be followed.

Stage 2 – Formal Resolution
1. There may be occasions where Stage I is inappropriate and/or a more formal approach is necessary. In such circumstances stage II can be the first stage in the complaint process.
2. At this point the student, or group of students, should complete a Complaint Form (Appendix 1: Form SCP), which can be obtained from the School Office or the Student Union. Where a complaint is progressed to Stage II by a group of students, it is essential that the completed complaint form contains the names and details of all complainants. The completed Complaint Form should be forwarded to the student’s Head of School. The Complaint should be specific and comprehensively documented. The Complaint Form must detail the complainant(s) name(s) and contact details, any relevant documentation, and dates, locations and witnesses as appropriate, and must be signed by the complainant, (or all the complainants, where there is a group complaint). Any previous efforts to resolve the matter should also be specified.
3. The Head of School (or Registrar’s nominee) will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within five working days. It is the Institute’s aim that all complaints under Stage II will be decided upon within 10 working days, of the date of acknowledgement of the complaint form.
4. The Head of School (or Registrar’s Nominee) will:
a. Meet the complainant (s) to discuss the compliant and explore possible outcomes, including mediation if appropriate.
b. Meet the respondent to discuss the compliant, seek a response and, if possible, seek resolution, including proposing mediation if appropriate and /or
c. Engage in mediation, if appropriate. In many cases, mediation will not be required.
5. The Head of the School/Registrar’s nominee may invite the complainant(s) and the respondent to engage in a process of confidential and without prejudice mediation as an alternative to investigation
6. If mediation does not occur or fails, the Head of School will hold a meeting with the respondent, and may also meet any material witnesses. The Head of School will make a written record of the meeting(s). The Head of School will notify the complainant(s) and the respondent in writing of his/her decision on the complaint and the reasons for the decision. Where the decision includes consequent action or recommendations, the Head of School shall notify the appropriate person(s) or committee, internal or external to the School, without undue delay.

ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
a) Persons may be accompanied by a colleague or staff member or student representative who may speak on their behalf.
b) In the case of class group complaints, the meeting will be with 2-3 representatives of the group.

Stage 3 – Executive Review
Either party (the complainant or the respondent, if dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2) may write to the Registrar, outlining their dissatisfaction.
1. The Head of School will be asked to submit the complaint to the Registrar, the evidence considered at Stage II and the Head of School’s report on the complaint.`
2. The Registrar will forward the complaint and the accompanying information to two members of the Executive Board for their consideration. The Registrar’s nominees will examine the material and may seek further information from the complainant(s) to clarify matters concerning the complaint. They may decide, if in their opinion the evidence justifies it, to uphold (or not to do so) a complaint without proceeding further with the complaint process.
3. The Registrar’s nominees will otherwise interview separately, the student and the respondent and any appropriate witnesses and agree a written record of these meetings.
4. The Institute will aim to complete this stage of the complaints procedure within 5 working days. The parties to the complaint will be informed if delays are expected.
5. The Registrar will notify both parties in writing of the decision / recommendations reached at this stage of the procedure and the reasons for it, together with any recommended consequent action.

Stage 4 – Appeal
Either party may appeal the outcome of Stage III within 5 working days of receipt of the decision. The relevant party must confirm the wish to appeal in writing to the Secretary, Governing Body.

1. The Institute will establish a Governing Body Appeals Committee who will deal with this appeal.
2. The Governing Body Appeals Committee will receive and consider the documentation so far generated with reference to the complaint.
3. The Governing Body Appeals Committee will consider the way in which the complaint has been handled at any previous stage of the procedure and/or to reconsider the appropriateness of the result of the previous stage of the procedure. However, the hearing will not be conducted as an alternative to any part of the disciplinary procedures which apply to members of staff.
4. The Secretary, Governing Body will inform both parties, in writing, of the decision of the Governing Body Appeals Committee and the reasons for the decision.
5. If the Complaints Committee decides that certain actions have to be taken as a consequence of the complaint or appeal, the President will nominate an individual to monitor such actions.
6. Where either of the parties dispute the decision arrived at 5.4 above, then under the provisions of the Institutes of Technology Act 2006, Section 21 E(3), the Institute’s Governing Body will provide for consideration of the issues in dispute by an independent person, or Ombudsman, as appropriate.