The University is committed to ensuring as high a quality student experience as possible while studying at St Andrews. Occasionally things may go wrong and students who experience a difficulty, or are dissatisfied with the academic experience should raise concerns as soon as possible. In general there are four methods of resolution:
- Provide Feedback on the course or facilities.
- Raise a concern.
- Make a complaint.
- Make an appeal; either of an academic decision or a Phase 2 (years 4 to 6) allocation decision.
Feedback – proposals to change or modify procedures or policy
There normal routes are:
- Consult the module controllers. This would be relevant for issues relating to sequencing of the module, provision of study material, module content etc.
- Bring the matter to the Student / Staff Consultative Committee. This would be relevant for the conduct or delivery of the course, access, school infrastructure etc.
- Address the matter to the School President. This is relevant to University level student requests.
Request for further information
A request of this nature can be addressed to the module controller, the personal tutor or the relevant member of staff.
There is a separate Handbook section on this topic; see the ‘Raising Concerns’ post
Students who are dissatisfied with the quality or standard of service that they have received from any part of the University, either academic or non-academic should consult the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure
Students who wish to request a formal review of an academic decision (for example, the University has made a judgement about your assessed work or progression within a course of study which you have grounds to query) should consult the University policy which is outlined in the University handbook. The University will normally seek to resolve matters of concern as close as possible to the level at which they arise. Only when such channels are fully exhausted will procedures be initiated to escalate academic appeals to a higher level. Students must therefore complete the first stage of appeal (to the Head of School).
Appeals about allocation to Phase 2 (years 4-6)
Students who wish to appeal a decision taken by the Special Circumstances Committee for allocation should see the allocations policies.
Use the Right Procedure
If there are extenuating personal circumstances that may affect your academic performance or impact on your progression you must bring these to the attention of an appropriate member of staff as soon as possible and normally prior to completing any assessment. If you base a subsequent academic appeal on such extenuating personal circumstances, you will be required to provide valid reasons to explain why you failed to notify the examiners or other relevant persons of these circumstances prior to completing the assessment.
Using the Right Procedure
If you are unsure whether to use the Appeals procedure or the Complaints procedure, there is a key question to ask yourself. What kind of outcome are you seeking? If you are seeking to have an academic decision changed (such as a mark or grade, a decision about progression, or termination of studies), then you must use the Appeals procedure. The permissible grounds for submitting an appeal are clearly detailed therein. If you are dissatisfied with the level of service you have received from the University, or if you believe that a service needs to be improved, or that the University has failed (for example) to follow one of its administrative processes properly, then the Complaints procedure is normally more appropriate. For matters involving teaching in general, there are also feedback opportunities through Staff-Student Consultative Councils, module questionnaires and School presidents.
You can make both a personal Complaint and an Appeal, by using both the Appeal and Complaints procedures, but it must be emphasised that changing an academic judgment or decision is not one of the outcomes from the Complaints procedure used alone.
When Things Go Wrong – The Professional Duty of Candour
Building on the GMC’s advice in Good Medical Practice, doctors have a duty to be open and honest with patients and to report when things go wrong. Doctors must follow the GMC’s guidance on The Professional Duty of Candour.
Further guidance and support
The Students’ Association provides independent and confidential help and advice for students who are contemplating submitting an academic appeal, complaint or are having discipline proceedings taken against them. The Students’ Association employs Iain Cupples, the Student Advocate (Education), whose job it is to ensure that you receive help with writing and submitting a submission. Iain can also accompany you to any hearing. He should be your first point of contact as soon as you feel you need help.
Student Advocate (Education)