Manual of Policies and Procedures

E/9.2 Grievance resolution procedures for student related grievances

Contact Officer

Student Ombudsman

Approval Date

18/09/2017

Approval Authority

Vice-Chancellor and President

Date of Next Review

30/09/2020

9.2.1 Purpose
9.2.2 Application
9.2.3 Roles and responsibilities
9.2.4 Three level grievance resolution process
9.2.5 Applying to external agencies
9.2.6 Other considerations
9.2.7 Recordkeeping and reporting
9.2.8 Definitions
Related Documents
Modification History

9.2.1 Purpose

QUT is committed to promoting an environment for study, research and learning that is harmonious, fair and just and underpinned by principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. These procedures emphasise resolution of grievances as early as possible and as close to the source as possible.

Students and/or staff involved in these procedures are expected to participate in good faith, and behave according to the relevant Code of Conduct for students (E/2.1) and for staff (B/8.1).

It is recognised that persons involved in these procedures may require support. Students with a grievance, or involved in a grievance resolution process, may consult with the Student Ombudsman to discuss access to QUT support services.

Top

9.2.2 Application

Except in special circumstances, as determined by the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, a grievance will not be accepted where it is lodged later than six months after the date on which the grievance was alleged to have arisen.

These procedures are limited to grievances raised by current or immediate past QUT students arising from QUT teaching, learning, research or administrative activities. In particular, these procedures may apply to grievances concerning:

  • academic or administrative decisions
  • delivery or quality of a product or service by QUT
  • behaviour of an individual or individuals in undertaking QUT activities
  • supervisory practice, interpersonal relationships, research facilities and resources relating to higher degree research candidates.

These procedures will not apply if the grievance relates to any of the following:

i) matters where the complainant is not fulfilling the role of current or immediate past QUT student

ii) matters where procedures are already specified in QUT policies, in particular:

  • failure to maintain academic integrity (including cheating and plagiarism) (C/5.3)
  • reviews of grades and academic rulings (E/9.1 and D/5.3.9)
  • admission and exclusion (E/6.7)
  • attendance by holders of an Australian Government student visa in courses regulated by the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (the ESOS National Code) (QUT International College Attendance policy)
  • any matter where an appeal right exists to Appeals Committee (E/1.2)

iii) harassment or discrimination related matter (A/8.5)

iv) allegations of student misconduct (E/1.3) or managing and investigating potential breaches of the QUT Code for responsible conduct of research (D/2.7)

v) public interest disclosures (B/8.3)

vi) decisions of QUT Council (A/3.1)

vii) the content of approved University policy and procedures

viii) matters where the complainant or the respondent have referred the matter to an external agency such as the Queensland Ombudsman or engaged a practising lawyer, and the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar has determined that these procedures will cease as per Applying to external agencies (E/9.2.7).

The Student Ombudsman or relevant university officer receiving a grievance may take advice as necessary from other areas of the University such as the Human Resource Department or Equity and Student Counselling Department. The University reserves the right to determine under which policy or procedures a grievance will be handled.  Where it is determined that an action initiated under these procedures should be managed under a different policy or procedure, the complainant will be advised of the procedures under which the grievance will be managed.

Top

9.2.3 Roles and responsibilities

The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar is responsible for the overall conduct of these procedures.

Where a student seeks assistance to resolve a grievance, responsibility for receipt and resolution of student-related grievances at the different levels is as follows.

Level of grievance process
Person responsible for receipt of grievance
Person responsible for investigation or other resolution
Reporting of outcome

Level One

Informal resolution

Relevant university officer or Student Ombudsman
Relevant university officer or Student Ombudsman
If the grievance is resolved no further report is required.

Level Two

Formal resolution

Student Ombudsman
Senior officer
Senior officer provides a report to the Student Ombudsman.

Level Three

Formal determination

Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar
Investigation panel/Investigator

Panel/Investigator reports to Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar with copy to Student Ombudsman.

De-identified information is reported in the grievance management database.

Annual reporting to Audit and Risk Management Committee, University Executive Committee, Research Degrees Committee, and (if required) the QUT Annual Report.

Top

9.2.4 Three level grievance resolution process

Grievances should be resolved within a reasonable timeframe, as appropriate to the nature of the grievance.

a) Level One - Informal resolution of grievance

Most grievances are resolved informally, through discussion with the involved parties.

A student is strongly encouraged to resolve matters as soon as possible and directly with the person/s concerned.

Students are encouraged to review relevant policies and procedures and may seek information, advice and support as appropriate from the Student Ombudsman and/or from relevant school/faculty/division/institute and services and departments such as HiQ and Library Services, Equity and Student Counselling and the QUT Student Guild. For higher degree research students this can include the Research Student Centre or the Faculty research support office.

After seeking information and advice in relation to a matter of concern, a student may:

  • take no further action; or
  • make an informal approach to the person/s concerned; or
  • request that a relevant university officer assist them to informally resolve the grievance; or
  • ask the Student Ombudsman to assist with informal resolution of the grievance.

Any relevant university officer receiving a request for assistance to resolve a grievance should normally commence action to resolve the matter within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint.

A student seeking assistance from the Student Ombudsman is expected to advise the Student Ombudsman of all matters of concern and outcomes sought. After consultation with the student the Student Ombudsman may contact the relevant school/faculty/division/institute, or persons concerned to facilitate resolution of the grievance.

If the grievance is not able to be resolved quickly and relatively informally, the Student Ombudsman may nominate an appropriate individual to assist with informal resolution of the grievance.

Resolution may involve information gathering, consultation, liaison or conciliation with relevant parties.

Where the Student Ombudsman requests another person to facilitate the process, this person must advise the Student Ombudsman in writing of the proposed resolution including the reasons and recommendations for action.

The Student Ombudsman or relevant university officer will notify the complainant (and relevant parties) in writing of the outcome. Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman may make recommendations for further action. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area, or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.

Where a student is dissatisfied with the outcome, they may apply to the Student Ombudsman for Level Two grievance resolution, or the Student Ombudsman may determine that it is appropriate to progress the matter to Level Two.

b) Level Two - Formal resolution of grievance

The complainant may request in writing that the Student Ombudsman refer their grievance to the relevant senior officer. The request should identify all matters of concern and outcomes sought. The Student Ombudsman will normally facilitate the process and advise the complainant of available support services where appropriate. Following consultation with the complainant, the Student Ombudsman may elect to handle the complaint in the first instance by discussions with the relevant parties. Resolution of the matter at this level should normally be commenced within 10 working days of receipt of the grievance by the Student Ombudsman.

The senior officer will normally be requested to initiate a formal process where an informal approach has been unsuccessful; or an informal process is not appropriate.

The senior officer may undertake any of the following to resolve the grievance:

  • discuss options for resolution with the relevant parties
  • consider all relevant matters and where appropriate make further enquiries
  • discuss the situation with the complainant and relevant parties to the grievance in an attempt to conciliate the grievance
  • conduct an investigation or, in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, appoint a suitably qualified person to do so on their behalf.

The complainant and/or the respondent may elect to be supported by a person of their choice who could be a representative of the QUT Student Guild or the relevant staff union. This person must not be a practising lawyer.

The senior officer, in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will determine how the grievance is to be resolved. The Student Ombudsman will be advised in writing of the reasons for the senior officer's decision, and proposed actions.

The Student Ombudsman will advise the complainant (and relevant parties) in writing of the outcome.

Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman may make recommendations to the senior officer, as relevant, for further action. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.

c) Level Three - Formal grievance determination

A complainant cannot proceed to Level Three of the formal resolution process without an attempt to resolve the grievance at Level Two.

Where the grievance is not resolved at Level Two, the complainant may request that the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar progress the grievance to Level Three. The request must be made within 10 working days of notification of the outcome at Level Two.

The matter will not be accepted at Level Three unless the application presented by the complainant includes:

  • new information that may have had a material effect on the result at Level Two had it been known at the time; or
  • reasons why the decision made at the conclusion of Level Two does not comply with QUT policy, rules or procedure.

The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar will not progress complaints to Level Three that are lacking in substance or repeat and pursue issues which have been previously addressed. The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar will be provided with access to all university records related to the management of the grievance.

Where the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar decides that the matter should proceed to Level Three, an independent investigation will commence. The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar following consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will elect for this to be undertaken either:

  • by a panel; or
  • by an independent person with specific skills, expertise or knowledge relevant to the grievance; or
  • by seeking an independent investigator to provide a report on factual findings, which is provided to a panel to determine whether the grievance is substantiated.

Once the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar has determined the method for investigation, and the panel membership/investigator the relevant parties will be advised of the process and expected timeframe.

An investigation panel will consist of members with expertise in the relevant area:

  • an independent Chair (internal or external to the University)
  • a senior staff member of the University (Where the complainant is a higher degree research student, and the complaint is research related, this panel member may be a member of Research Degrees Committee.)
  • a nominee of the Vice-Chancellor and President, (the Vice-Chancellor and President will consult with the QUT Student Guild before making the nomination).

A nominee of the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar will act as secretary.

The complainant and/or the respondent may elect to be supported by a person of their choice who could be a representative of the QUT Student Guild or of the relevant staff union. This person must not be a practising lawyer.

The panel/investigator will establish procedures in accordance with the rules of natural justice, and advise the parties of the procedures to be adopted. This may include:

  • interviewing (or taking written statements from) the complainant, respondent, and other relevant parties including those who handled the grievance at earlier levels
  • reviewing all relevant documents
  • considering the grievance in the context of QUT policy and procedures
  • seeking advice from any person deemed appropriate; and
  • giving the complainant and the respondent an opportunity to respond to all relevant information gathered.

The panel/ investigator will advise the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar of the findings and recommended actions based on all relevant circumstances. The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar will advise the appropriate senior officer of any accepted recommendations arising from the investigation. The Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar will advise the complainant and relevant parties of the outcome.

A copy of the panel/investigator's report will be provided to the Student Ombudsman by the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar. Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman, may make recommendations for further action to the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman and accepted by the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area, or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.

Top

9.2.5 Applying to external agencies

A complainant remaining dissatisfied by the University's management of the grievance may apply to external agencies, such as the Queensland Ombudsman, for an external review. QUT will fully cooperate with external agencies investigating any such grievance. However, QUT is committed at all times to facilitating the resolution of grievances without the need to have recourse to external agencies.

If a complainant, while participating in these procedures, chooses to involve an external agency then:

  • the Student Ombudsman must be notified in writing, and
  • the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar , in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will determine whether or not internal proceedings will cease. In the event of cessation of proceedings before a resolution is achieved, all decisions and agreements arising from these procedures will cease to be implemented and all records will be annotated accordingly.

Top

9.2.6 Other considerations

a) Student support

It is recognised that persons involved in these procedures may require support. Options for accessing QUT support services may be discussed with the Student Ombudsman before applying these procedures.

b) Frivolous or vexatious grievances

Where it is believed that a grievance is frivolous or vexatious, this may be dealt with under the Management of student misconduct policy (E/8.1).

c) Reprisals or victimisation

Disciplinary action in accordance with relevant University policies may be taken against any person who initiates or incites adverse action against another person because of their involvement in these grievance resolution procedures.

d) Confidentiality

Confidentiality will be respected and maintained by all persons involved with the grievance at all times, except where it is necessary to afford natural justice or to ensure matters are investigated. Where it is necessary to disclose confidential information relevant parties will be advised.

e) Student satisfaction

Persons involved in a grievance process may be surveyed to monitor satisfaction and to obtain feedback on the effectiveness of these procedures. This survey will be conducted by the Student Ombudsman in consultation with the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar . De-identified data will be used to analyse and report on the survey.

f) Duty of disclosure

By participating in these procedures, a complainant agrees that the nature of their grievance may be disclosed to the Director, Governance and Legal Services. Such disclosure is for the purpose of liability assessment.

g) Third Party Authorisation

Requests for information made to the University from third parties acting as a representative of a person involved in this procedure, will only be considered if a verifiable, signed authorisation from the person is provided.

h) Anonymous complaints

A grievance may be discussed anonymously by a complainant or respondent (or their representative) for the purposes of seeking advice or guidance. A grievance may be lodged anonymously, and where possible such complaints will be considered for investigation having regard to the limitations which may be imposed by that anonymity.

i) Withdrawing grievance

A student may withdraw their grievance at any time, however, the University may determine that the seriousness of the matters raised warrant the University continuing to review the matter.

j) Misconduct identified during grievance process

Where it is considered that the alleged actions or behaviours of a student which constitute the grievance may involve misconduct (as defined in the Student Code of Conduct E/2.1), the matter will be managed according to the Management of student misconduct policy (E/8.1).

Where it is considered that the alleged actions or behaviours of a staff member which constitute the grievance may involve misconduct or serious misconduct (as defined in the relevant enterprise agreement or policy), the matter must be referred to the Executive Director, Human Resources.

Top 

9.2.7 Recordkeeping and reporting

Records must be managed according to QUT’s Records management policy (F/6.1). Records must be kept at all stages of a grievance resolution process. Where the Student Ombudsman has been involved in resolution of the matter, records are kept on a confidential Student Ombudsman file.

Otherwise capturing confidential records is the responsibility of the operational area. Records should include, but are not be limited to:

  • the complainant's name
  • meeting notes
  • recordings, transcripts, or summaries of discussions and interviews with relevant stakeholders
  • the outcome; and
  • whether or not the grievance was resolved to the complainant's satisfaction.

A report on student-related grievances is prepared by the Vice-President (Administration) and Registrar and presented to University Executive Committee and the Audit and Risk Management Committee annually. Information on higher degree research student research related grievances is provided to Research Degrees Committee. Statistics will also be provided for the QUT Annual Report.

Top 

9.2.8 Definitions

Complainant means the QUT student/s submitting a grievance under these procedures.

Grievance means a real or perceived cause for complaint, disagreement, conflict, dispute or similar problem.

Higher degree research (HDR) candidate means a candidate for an award defined by the University as a higher degree undertaken by research (i.e. Doctor of Philosophy, Professional Doctorate by research, Masters by Research) (D/5.3). For the purpose of these procedures, reference to a student includes higher degree research candidates.

Informal resolution can include a direct, respectful approach to the other party to seek a resolution, or a process of conciliation, mediation, or a facilitated discussion with the relevant parties.

Relevant university officer means a university staff member, usually in the school/faculty/division/institute of the complainant, who because of their work responsibilities is in a position to assist parties to informally resolve a grievance.

Respondent means the person/s subject to a complaint under these procedures.

Senior officer means the relevant Executive Dean, Associate Dean, Head of School, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development), Head of Division or the Executive Director of an Institute.

Student Ombudsman means the QUT officer performing the functions set out in the Student Ombudsman policy (E/9.3).

Top

Related Documents

MOPP A/8.5 Grievance resolution procedures for discrimination related grievances

MOPP B/8.1 Staff Code of Conduct

MOPP B/8.5 Disciplinary action for misconduct and serious misconduct - senior staff

MOPP B/8.7 Conflict of interest

MOPP C/5.3 Academic integrity

MOPP D/5.1 Management of higher degree research courses

MOPP D/5.2 Research Degrees Committee

MOPP D/5.3 Higher degree research candidates

MOPP E/2.1 QUT Student Code of Conduct

MOPP E/8.1 Management of student misconduct

MOPP E/9.1 Review of grades and academic rulings

MOPP E/9.3 Student Ombudsman

MOPP F/3.2 Social media

MOPP F/6.1 Records management

MOPP F/6.2 Information privacy

QUT International College – Course progress and attendance

Disciplinary action - Clause 45 QUT Enterprise Agreement (Academic Staff), Clause 50 QUT Enterprise Agreement (Professional Staff) (QUT staff access only)

Good practice guidelines for higher degree research studies and supervision at QUT (QUT staff and student access only)

Infrastructure provisions for QUT Higher Degree Research students (QUT staff and student access only)

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015

Higher Education Provider Guidelines 2012 issued under the Higher Education Support Act 2003

National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000

Ombudsman Act (2001) Qld

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (Cwth)

Top

Modification History

Date Sections Source Details
09.01.19 All Director, Governance and Legal Services Revised policy to include department name change from HiQ to HiQ and Library Services, and approved position title change from assistant dean/s to associate dean/s
18.09.17 All Registrar Periodic review - minor changes and simplified policy
25.05.16 All Vice-Chancellor Revised policy, incorporates rescinded policy D/5.5 Grievance resolution procedures for higher degree research students
05.05.15 E/9.2.6(c) Vice-Chancellor Policy revised to clarify progression to Level Three
11.04.14 E/9.2.4, E/9.2.6 Vice-Chancellor Policy revised to amend Level Three reporting from Student Ombudsman to Registrar and clarify management of the process at Level Three
24.06.13 All Vice-Chancellor Policy revised on recommendation from Queensland Ombudsman
21.04.11 All Vice-Chancellor Periodic review - minor changes only
26.04.07 All Vice-Chancellor Revised grievance resolution procedures
24.07.02 E/9.2 Vice-Chancellor Approved new student grievance procedures

Top