Policy Academic Governance Student Complaints Policy

Student Complaints Policy

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This policy and its procedures promote and underpin JCU’s commitment to transparent, fair and timely resolution of student complaints.

JCU recognises that student complaints provide useful information to improve the student experience and University practices.


This policy applies to students (including prospective and former students), staff and affiliates.

However, where another policy or procedure contains a mechanism to consider a student’s complaint, the complaint must be referred for consideration under that policy or procedure. This includes where the policy or procedure, for a reason other than its Scope, does not allow the mechanism to be used.

Any JCU student can be a complainant. They may make a complaint about any aspect of their experience with JCU, its agents or related parties.

JCU is the respondent to a complaint under this policy. When a University community member has allegedly made the University liable to remedy a complaint, action if required regarding that person will proceed under the relevant conduct policy.

In addition to this policy, a student has rights of external review and legal redress available.


Definition of terms used in this policy are as per the Policy Glossary with the following additions:

Complainant means a student who has made a complaint under this policy.

Complaint means a student’s expression of dissatisfaction that their rights (including human rights), existing interests and/or reasonable expectations have been adversely and unjustifiably impacted because of an action, decision or omission within the control or responsibility of the University. Any circumstance related to University operations and services, or the conduct of its staff, its students or people associated with the University or using University facilities may be the subject of a complaint.

Student means a person who:

  • has engaged with the University or its external agents regarding admission to the University, from their enquiry about admission through to their admission to the University,
  • is admitted to the University, or
  • has been admitted to a course at the University.


JCU promotes a culture ready to hear student complaints and continuously improve the student experience. Students have the right to make a complaint to the University, free from reprisal or harassment.

JCU provides an effective student complaint management system, with informal and formal procedural mechanisms which resolve student complaints.

Complaint resolution will be procedurally fair.

Students are encouraged to seek assistance and support from the JCU Student Association Advocates at all stages of the complaints process.


1. Complainants' rights and obligations

1.1 In making a complaint to the University, a complainant is entitled to:

a) provide their complaint on an anonymous basis, although this might limit how the University can respond to the complaint;

b) have their complaint dealt with confidentially to the greatest possible extent, including in response to reasonable requests for anonymity;

c) have personal information arising out of their complaint managed under JCU’s Information Privacy Policy;

d) engage the assistance of a JCU Student Association Advocate or other support person in preparing, submitting and resolving their complaint;

e) make a formal complaint submission if their informal complaint resolution under the Student Complaints Procedures is not reasonably satisfactory, or informal action is not available;

f) withdraw their complaint at any stage of the complaints process. If a complaint is withdrawn, the University may decide to continue or discontinue any other procedure that has arisen consequentially; and

g) contact an external organisation (such as those referred to in clause 6 of the Student Complaints Procedures or the Queensland Police), or seek external advice regarding the subject matter of their complaints.

1.2 In making a complaint to the University, a complainant is obliged to:

a) conduct themselves honestly and courteously in all correspondence and communications with the University;

b) engage in the complaints resolution process in good faith and in a manner which seeks to amicably resolve their complaint in the shortest possible timeframe;

c) make their complaint as soon as reasonably possible, because the timeliness of a complaint submission might affect the University’s capacity to respond to a complaint; and

d) refrain from making frivolous, trivial or vexatious complaints. The University may refuse to accept a complaint on the basis that it is frivolous or vexatious. A complaint can be determined to be frivolous, trivial or vexatious in circumstances where:

  • the complaint has no reasonable substance;
  • the substance of the complaint has already been considered by the University and measures have been taken to resolve the complaint; or
  • the complaint contains dishonest or misleading information.

2. JCU’s handling of complaints

2.1 In receiving, considering, investigating and determining a complaint under this policy, JCU will have regard to contemporary complaint handling practices and will strive for continuous improvement. The University will:

a) not charge a fee;

b) promote the Student Complaints Policy and its accompanying procedures to staff and students via the JCU website;

c) provide resources, training and support to any staff member who is asked to respond to a complaint received under this policy; and

d) report to the Academic Board as the corporate governing body. That report will include relevant recommendations for quality improvement which arise from the consideration of a complaint under this Policy.

2.2 Staff at each stage of the complaint must have regard to:

a) the University’s duty of care to all parties to a complaint;

b) a staff member’s rights under the JCU Enterprise Agreement where the actions of that staff member might amount to misconduct or serious misconduct, or a student’s rights under the Student Code of Conduct where the actions of that student might amount to misconduct;

c) the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (QLD) and JCU’s Public Interest Disclosure Procedure; and

d) the human rights of the complainant and of any other member of the University community who is a party to the complaint.

2.3 JCU will not report a student to an immigration authority if this would otherwise be required if that student has made a complaint and the complaint’s resolution has not been determined and opportunities for appeal of that complaint resolution determination exist.

2.4 A complainant will be kept informed of the progress of their complaint.

2.5 Decision makers must consider whether one version of events is more likely than an alternative version of events when making a determination.

2.6 As soon as possible, parties to a formal complaint will be provided with written advice of the University’s determination(s) in relation to the complaint, the reason(s) for the determination(s) and the avenue(s) of appeal that exist.

2.7 When a complaint is wholly or partly found to have merit, the University must determine an appropriate remedy and promptly implement it.

2.8 A student can appeal the University’s determination of their formal complaint under the Student Review and Appeals Policy, unless the complaint is determined to be frivolous, trivial or vexatious.

Related policy instruments

Student Complaints Procedure

Information Privacy Policy

Public Interest Disclosure Procedure

Related documents and legislation

Human Rights Act 2019

Ombudsman Act 2001


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainAcademic Governance
Policy Sub-domainStudent Experience

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Education

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date






Policy reviewed and amended in line with contemporary complaints management practices and to comply with relevant Acts. Policy title amended,  procedural content moved to newly created Student Complaints Procedure.

Student Complaints and Misconduct Advisor




Administrative amendment to update Committee name (previously Council for Private Education, now Committee for Private Education)

Quality, Standards and Policy Officer




Minor amendment to reflect establishment of Student Appeals Policy.

Chair of Academic Board




Minor amendment to reflect current organisational structure.

Quality, Standards and Policy Officer




Removal of last sentence of 2.4 and removal of 2.10 (both referencing HDR Merit review process); numbering updated.

Quality, Standards and Policy Officer




Removal of clause 3 and second sentence of clause 4 (in the procedures section) referencing HDR Merit reviews; numbering updated.

Dean Graduate Research




Minor amendments to align with Council approved Academic and Student Delegations Register

Associate Director, Enrolment and Client Services




Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework

Quality, Standards and Policy Officer




Minor amendments to replace Registrar role with Director, Student Services





Approved by Council



complaint, appeal, complaint resolution

Contact person:

Chair of Academic Board