Help and Advice
Royal Holloway is a friendly and caring community, offering an extremely high level of student welfare support to help you get the most out of your time at the College. We understand that there are a large number of factors that can negatively influence your university experience, but there are also many places you can go for advice and guidance. Please follow this link to the College’s Student Welfare pages.
The Advice & Support Centre at the Students’ Union is able to provide support and advice before, during and after a complaint (tel. +44 (0)1784 276700).
If you are still not sure how to express your complaint, you can contact the College Secretary’s Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Support and Advisory Services (SupportandAdvisory@rhul.ac.uk).
Third Party Assistance
It is expected that you will act on your own behalf when communicating with the College. You are not prevented from obtaining advice and assistance from any party, including lawyers, but a complaint is an internal rather than a legal process so it is inappropriate for you to be represented by a lawyer, and no advantage will be gained by doing so.
If you do appoint a third party representative, the College will proceed to communicate directly with that representative and not with you until advised otherwise. You must therefore be sure that your representative knows about your complaint and is able to devote sufficient time to it.
If you decide to appoint legal representation, the College reserves the right to appoint their own which may result in your complaint taking considerably longer to investigate.
If the complaint relates to an administrative matter, or is about an administrative function or a service, you are advised raise it informally with a member of that office or service (either in person or in writing).
If you have a complaint about an academic matter you are advised to try to resolve it informally with your Academic Co-ordinator, Head of Department or other appropriate member of staff (eg. Director of Graduate Studies if you are a postgraduate student). If in doubt about whom to approach for an academic manner, you should ask for advice from your Personal Adviser.
If you are unsure of who to contact for a non-academic matter, please seek advice from the Advice & Support Centre at the Students’ Union (tel. +44 (0)1784 276700).
There is no need to complete a complaint form for complaints made informally. Records of such complaints will not normally be kept by the College Secretary, unless you and the member of staff dealing with it wish them to. In this case a complaint form should be completed and logged with the College Secretary Office.
A formal complaint means that:
- the details of the complaint are recorded on a complaint form
- all complaint forms are sent to the College Secretary and kept on file
- a report on all formal complaints (not including the names of students or stafsf) is made annually to the College Council
You are urged to submit your complaint as quickly as possible, and within three months of the incident or action being complained about. If you submit a complaint outside of this deadline it will not normally be investigated.
An electronic copy of the Formal Complaint Form can be found here and is also attached as an appendix to the Complaints Procedures. If you cannot access the form this way, your department/school or the Students’ Union can download one for you.
You should submit your completed complaint form electronically to email@example.com.
If your complaint is considered by the College Secretary to be frivolous or malicious, disciplinary action may be taken under the regulations governing non-academic offences.
Once the College Secretary’s Office receives a complaint form, they will consider the content and:
- forward the complaint to an appropriate Investigating Officer (see below for examples)
- provide an immediate written acknowledgement to the student(s) concerned
- inform any member(s) of staff concerned that a complaint has been received, including their line manager if appropriate
The College Secretary’s Office will appoint an appropriate Investigating Officer. This might be:
- your Head(s) of Department for academic matters
- the Heads of Administrative Departments for matters relating to the work of their Departments
- the Director of Information Services for matters concerning the Computer Centre
- the Librarian for matters relating to the Library
- the Director of Resources & College Secretary for complaints about the Heads of Administrative Departments or matters relating to the Health & Safety Office
- the Principal for complaints about the work of a senior member of staff (such cases will normally be referred to a Vice-Principal)
The appropriate Investigating Officer will investigate your complaint, seeking relevant documentation from any member of staff and, at his/her discretion call a meeting at which you and any other persons involved may submit your views on the complaint.
Following the investigation, the Investigating Officer will write to you with their initial findings, explaining the facts, judgements and conclusions. The Deputy College Secretary will also receive a copy of the initial findings, along with your case file for review.
Where possible, the College will take appropriate action to deal with your concerns and will reimburse any necessary expenses where appropriate. At any stage of this procedure it may be found that your complaint is partly or wholly justified and that some form of remedy is appropriate, which will depend on the particular circumstances of your case.
Please remember that no academic outcome can be altered as a result of the complaints process and academic judgement cannot be overturned in any form.
Responding to the Initial Findings
If you are not for any reason satisfied with the content of the initial findings letter, you will be given 2 weeks from the date of receiving the initial findings letter in which to comment.
This stage is managed by the College Secretary’s Office who will ask you to submit a statement in which you should clearly state how your response relates to one or more of the following grounds:
- You feel that you have been misunderstood in relation to your complaint
- There were administrative or procedural errors in the investigation, or the principles of natural justice were not followed
- There is new documentary evidence to be taken into account which you could not possibly have provided before or during the investigation
If you have not submitted a response by the 2 week deadline, the College Secretary's Office will issue you with a Completion of Procedures Letter (see below).
If you do decide to respond to the initial findings on one or more of the grounds stated above, the Vice-Principal or nominee will consider the details of the case and all relevant documentation provided by the Investigating Officer. He/she will review the case, along with your response, and may, if necessary, take further advice.
It may be possible for the Vice-Principal or nominee to review your complaint using the documentation provided, otherwise a meeting may be called at which both you and any other persons involved may put your views forward.
Once the College Secretary's Office is satisfied that the investigation is complete, you will be sent a Completion of Procedures Letter confirming the College’s final decision on your complaint.
Once all internal procedures have been exhausted the College will not investigate the matter any further.
If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, however, you can ask for your case to be reviewed by the OIA.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA)
This option only becomes available to you after the College’s internal procedures have been completed. The College will send you a Completion of Procedures Letter at the appropriate time, after which you will have three months in which to refer your case to the OIA, if you meet their grounds for investigation.
In cases where your concerns are about academic standards and quality, to the extent that your concerns indicate serious systemic or procedural problems, you may also be able to register your concerns with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.