To state the policy, including the principles to be applied and the procedures to be followed, in the management of student complaints and appeals in order to resolve complaints and appeals fairly, promptly and efficiently, and to improve University practice.
Any current or former JCU student can make a complaint or submit an appeal under this policy.
JCU or any JCU unit, staff member or student can be the respondent to a complaint under this policy.
When a complaint or appeal falls within the provisions of another University policy, then the complaint will be dealt with under that policy.
If a complaint has been dealt with as a formal complaint under another University policy, the same complaint cannot be the subject of a formal complaint under this policy. If a decision about a formal complaint has been the subject of an appeal processed under another University policy, the same decision cannot be the subject of an appeal under this policy.
Nothing in this policy is intended to exclude or in any way affect the application of the legislation in force in the place where a decision, act or omission leading to a Complaint, arises or occurs.
Definition of terms used in this policy are as per the Policy Glossary with the following additions:
Complainant: A current or former JCU student who makes a complaint.
Complaint: A complaint is a student’s expression of dissatisfaction that their 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, services, and decisions, 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.
Contact Officer: A Contact Officer means a Contact Officer appointed under the Discrimination and Harassment policy or where no Contact Officers have been appointed, then the Discrimination Advisor under the same policy.
Discrimination: Discrimination means discrimination as defined in the Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
Formal complaint: A formal complaint is a complaint that is submitted in writing to the University in accordance with clauses 2.1 to 2.4 of the Procedures in this Policy.
Harassment: Harassment means harassment as defined in the Discrimination and Harassment Policy
Informal complaint: An informal complaint is where a complainant seeks to resolve the matter before a formal complaint has been submitted under this Policy.
Investigation Panel: A panel formed to investigate research candidature matters.
JCU Student Association Student Advocate: A JCU Student Association Student Advocate includes any staff member of the Student Association so designated by either the Cairns or Townsville Directors of the JCU Student Association.
Natural justice: Natural justice, also known as procedural fairness, is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker, rather than the decision reached. It requires a fair and transparent procedure be used when making a decision, which includes the respondent being informed of the complaint. All parties to a complaint (complainant and respondent) must be afforded natural justice. Natural justice requires:
These rules involve parties to a complaint having a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present a case and to have their cases considered justly.
Respondent: A person or entity about whom a complaint is made, which may include a student, a staff member, a unit of the University, the University and/or a person or entity associated with the University.
Responsible Officer: The University staff member who is responsible for the determination of a formal complaint.
Staff member: A member of staff of James Cook University, James Cook University Brisbane or James Cook University Singapore.
Student Appeal: A student appeal is a statement by a student that is submitted to the University in accordance with clauses 3.1 to 3.3 of the Procedures in this Policy.
Student Appeal Panel: A panel formed to consider a student appeal.
University working day: University working day means a day other than Saturday or Sunday, or a public holiday or a Vice-Chancellor declared University holiday in the place or places in which an act or event (including the making of a determination or decision) is to be done under this Policy.
1.1 Students are encouraged to resolve their complaint informally in the first instance by making an initial approach to the relevant staff member or student to discuss the matter. This informal method of resolution allows the parties to explore options and make their own decisions about how to resolve a complaint rather than having a third party make and enforce a decision.
1.2 A student wishing to make a complaint is encouraged to seek advice from a person independent of the complaint and knowledgeable about this complaint resolution process, such as a JCU Student Association Student Advocate or an appropriate staff member (including a Contact Officer). Together with the independent person, the student should:
2.1 If a student’s complaint cannot be resolved as outlined in section 1, the student may make a formal complaint.
2.2 A formal complaint must be submitted in writing to the Director, Student Services.
2.3 The University will not accept a formal complaint submitted more than 12 months after the latest relevant action, notification of a decision, or omission with regard to the matter that is the subject of the complaint, other than in exceptional circumstances as determined by the Director, Student Services.
2.4 The formal complaint statement must include, where relevant, the following details:
Relevant documentary evidence should be attached to and referenced within the statement.
2.5 Students are encouraged when making a formal complaint to seek assistance from a JCU Student Association Student Advocate, an appropriate staff member, or, in relation to allegations of discrimination and/or harassment, from a Contact Officer.
2.6 The Director, Student Services will promptly acknowledge receipt of a formal complaint. If the Director, Student Services determines that a submission is not made in accordance with clauses 2.1-2.4 it will be referred back to the complainant. An anonymous complaint will be recorded: further action with regard to that complaint will depend on the ability to consider the complaint without being able to seek to verify claims made in it through further contact with the complainant.
2.7 The Director, Student Services may make an assessment that a complaint is frivolous, trivial or vexatious, dismiss the complaint and notify the complainant. The decision of the Director, Student services is final and not subject to further review within the University. This does not preclude a student from seeking review by an appropriate external body.
2.8 Subject to clause 2.7, the Director, Student Services will refer a Formal Complaint within five (5) days of its receipt.
Where the complaint falls within the provisions of another University policy, the complaint will be referred to be dealt with under that policy.
Where the complaint is to be managed under this policy, the complaint will be referred to the relevant College Dean, Director or equivalent, or, with regard to research candidature matters, the Dean of Graduate Research (the “Responsible Officer”). Where the Director, Student Services determines that a conflict of interest or apprehension of bias exists, the next most senior officer will be appointed as the Responsible Officer.
The Director, Student Services will advise the complainant of the Responsible Officer, the date of referral of the complaint and anticipated time-frame for response.
2.9 The Responsible Officer will determine a process for resolving the complaint. This may include:
The Responsible Officer shall ensure all parties are afforded natural justice, which includes providing the respondent with the opportunity to respond in writing to the complaint.
Where the complaint relates to an allegation of discrimination or harassment, the Responsible Officer shall seek advice from the. Dean Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement
2.10 The Responsible Officer will consider whether or not the complaint is substantiated and the appropriate response.
2.11 The Responsible Officer will report in writing on the complaint resolution process and the determination concerning the complaint (“the Responsible Officer’s Report”) to the complainant, any respondent and the Director, Student Services within not more than fifteen (15) University working days of receipt of the complaint, other than where the Director, Student Services has approved an extension (see 2.12 and 2.13)
The Responsible Officer’s Report will:
For record-keeping purposes, the Responsible Officer will also provide the Director, Student Services with a copy of all documentation relevant to the complaint.
If the Responsible Officer has made any recommendations for actions required as a result of the determination, including the review of policies or procedures, the Director, Student Services will consider the recommendations and take action as appropriate.
2.12 Where the Director, Student Services makes the assessment that, due to the nature of the complaint, the Responsible Officer will require more than fifteen (15) days to reach a determination, the Director, Student Services when referring the allegation to the Responsible Officer may nominate a longer timeframe for the Responsible Officer to provide a report.
2.13 Where a determination has not been able to be reached by the due date, the Responsible Officer may seek an extension from the Director, Student Services of the time required to provide a report. The request for an extension will outline the steps already taken and those steps still to be taken to finalise the complaint resolution process. If an extension is granted, the Director, Student Services will advise the complainant of the new timeframe anticipated for response.
2.14 Where a Responsible Officer fails to act with regard to clauses 2.8-2.13, the Director, Student Services will refer the complaint to the next most senior officer, who then becomes the Responsible Officer. The Director, Student Services will advise the complainant of the new Responsible Officer and date of referral of the complaint.
3.1 If a complainant, after receiving a determination of their formal complaint, believes they have grounds for a student appeal, they may initiate that appeal. The grounds for a student appeal are limited to a breach of natural justice having occurred in the resolution of a formal complaint.
3.2 Student appeals under this policy must be submitted in writing to the Director, Student Services within twenty (20) University working days of the date of the notice to the complainant of the determination of the formal complaint.
3.3 The student appeal statement should:
A student appeal statement must not exceed ten (10) pages in length.
3.4 Students are encouraged, when preparing a student appeal statement and in the course of the appeal process, to seek assistance from a JCU Student Association Student Advocate or an appropriate staff member.
3.5 The Director, Student Services will promptly acknowledge receipt of a student appeal. A submission not made in accordance with clauses 3.1-3.3 will be referred back to the complainant.
3.6 The Director, Student Services will prepare a set of the existing documents related to a determination that is subject to an appeal and provide those documents to the Review Officer and/or Appeal Panel as appropriate. Where a student appeal is made against a determination under another policy, those who were responsible for the determination will provide all relevant documents to the Director, Student Services upon the latter’s request.
3.7 If the complaint determination which is the subject of the appeal was made by a College Dean, Director or equivalent (otherwise, see clause 3.10), the Director, Student Services will refer the appeal within two (2) University working days of its receipt for review to the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
3.8 The Review Officer will provide a written response (“Review Officer’s Report”) to the parties to the appeal and to the Director, Student Services within five (5) University working days of the referral, advising:
3.9 The Director, Student Services will provide the parties to the appeal with a copy of the Review Officer’s Report within two (2) University working days of the receipt of that report and:
3.10 The Director, Student Services will convene a Student Appeal Panel within ten (10) University working days in the event of:
The membership of the Student Appeal Panel will be in accordance with Schedule A, clause 2, unless the complaint concerns a research candidature matter, in which case the Student Appeal Panel membership will be in accordance with Schedule A, clause 2.1.
3.11 The Student Appeal Panel will consider the complainant’s student appeal statement and any complainant’s response to the Review Officer’s Report. The Student Appeal Panel will determine whether or not the complainant has made a case for the original determination to be reconsidered. If there is a case to consider, the Student Appeal Panel will make reasonable inquiries or otherwise investigate the matter before making a decision on that case.
3.12 The Student Appeal Panel can uphold or dismiss the student appeal.
3.13 The Student Appeal Panel will provide advice in writing of its decision to the parties to the appeal and to the Director, Student Services within five (5) University working days of making the decision. The Student Appeal Panel’s advice will:
The Student Appeal Panel should also note any policy or procedure that the Panel believes, as a result of its deliberations, needs to be reviewed.
For record-keeping purposes, the Student Appeal Panel will provide the Director, Student Services with a copy of all documentation relevant to the appeal.
3.14 If the Student Appeal Panel upholds the student appeal and sets aside the determination of the formal complaint, the Director, Student Services will refer the formal complaint, including the Student Appeal Panel advice, back to the Responsible Officer for the complaint to be re-heard in accordance with the procedures outlined in Section 2. The Director, Student Services will also invite the complainant to provide, within ten (10) University working days of that invitation, an additional written statement of no more than ten (10) pages in length, for consideration by the Responsible Officer.
4.1 If a complaint is upheld, the Responsible Officer must give consideration to an appropriate remedy and should take into consideration any remedial action the complainant has sought.
4.2 A remedy must be within the authority of the staff member who has determined the complaint or considered the appeal, or, if not, recommended by that staff member to another staff member who has the authority to grant such a remedy and approved by that authorised staff member.
4.3 If a remedy is approved, then the University will action its corrective and preventative actions as soon as possible. The staff member who authorised the remedy will keep the complainant informed of progress in implementing the remedy.
5.1 A student has the right to contact or lodge a complaint with external organisations at any time. The University notes that many external bodies advise that, ordinarily, students should first attempt to resolve their grievances internally using the procedures of the University before seeking external assistance.
5.2 The following complaints handling services provide free and impartial external appeals processes that complainants may choose to access:
5.3 Students studying at the JCU Singapore campus who remain dissatisfied with the determination of their complaint by JCU may use the Singapore Government’s approved dispute resolution scheme managed by the Council for Private Education (CPE) in Singapore. The student may approach the CPE’s Student Services Centre (SSC) for help. Note: after reviewing a complaint, the SSC may refer students to the CPE Mediation – Arbitration Scheme and there may be additional costs to use this Scheme.
5.4 The University will deal promptly with all requests from the Queensland Ombudsman, Australian Human Rights Commission and similar bodies related to complaints and appeals.
6.1 Where the complainant is an International Student visa holder, the University will only report to Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations against the students ‘Confirmation of Enrolment’, if otherwise required to, once the internal complaint management process as per sections 2 to 3 of this policy has been concluded.
7.1 Where the outcome of a student complainant or student appeal for a Singapore Student Visa holder might entail the reversal of the restrictions or conditions on his/her enrolment, including suspension or termination, the University will not report to the Singapore Immigration Check Point and Authority about a student’s non-attendance until the internal complaint management process as per sections 2 to 3 of this policy has been concluded
8.1 Maintenance of confidentiality to the greatest possible extent at all stages of these procedures is essential to the best interests of the parties to a complaint. Communication about the complaint must be limited to persons to whom disclosure is consistent with official position and responsibilities.
8.2 Many accusations are potentially defamatory. In order that defences to a defamation action are available to the University or to persons involved in the grievance, the following procedures must be observed:
8.3 In certain circumstances the University may be legally required to release confidential information.
9.1 The Director, Student Services will provide a quarterly written report to VCAC and the Academic Board which will include:
9.2 Records will be kept in accordance with relevant University policy.
Other than where specified below, a Student Appeal Panel will comprise
Where the formal complaint concerns a research candidature matter, a Student Appeal Panel will comprise:
1 “In general terms, personal information is any information about an identifiable individual, and includes a person’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, marital status, employment history, criminal history, financial and medical details, and information about the person’s family and relationships." Queensland Ombudsman’s Office, Better Decisions Project, Nov 2005.
The University complies with all the requirements of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (Cwlth) and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students.
The University notes AS ISO 10002-2006 Customer satisfaction—Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations.
NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students)
Date for next Major Review
NOTE: A minor amendment will not result in a change of the next major review date.
Approval date - the date the approval authority approved the establishment, minor or major amendment or disestablishment
Implementation Date - the date the policy was published in the Policy Library and is the date the policy takes effect
Changes made to reflect headline restructure 30/04/2018.
|Quality, Standards and Policy|
|17-3||25/03/2017||27/04/2017||Further edits to align with changes made in versions 17-1 and 17-2 relating to merit reviews: removal of Clause 1 from Schedule A; Schedule A re-numbered.||Manager Student Complaints and Quality Improvement|
Removal of last sentence at 2.4 and removal of 2.10 (both referencing HDR Merit review process); numbering updated.
|Quality, Standards and Policy Officer|
|17-1||10/02/2017||15/02/2017||Removal of clause 3 and second sentence of clause 4 (in the procedures section) referencing HDR Merit reviews; numbering updated.||Dean Graduate Research School|
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
Minor amendments to replace Registrar role with Director, Student Services
Approved by Council
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There are no related procedures.
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