Submitting a Stage Three complaint

The third stage of the Complaint Procedure involves a review of the case by another person, usually the Student Casework Team Manager, or another senior manager. Stage Three complaints should normally be submitted within four weeks of the completion of Stage Two.

Make a Stage Three complaint

Staff and students can submit a complaint to the Student Casework Team Manager by completing the Stage Three complaint form.

Stage Three complaint form (Word)

If you are a student you may wish to contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre for support and guidance before submitting the complaint.


A Stage Three complaint should be submitted as soon as possible and within 28 Days (four weeks) of the date of the Stage Two outcome letter - the greater the time delay, the more difficult it will be for the complaint to be thoroughly investigated.

The Student Casework Team Manager will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within three working days, giving an indication of the likely timescale before a full response is provided.

The Student Casework Team Manager will ensure that a timely response is sent, i.e. within 42 days (six weeks) of the Stage Three complaint being received, provided there are no undue delays (for example in obtaining further evidence from the complainant). Where it is not possible to respond within this time limit, the Student Casework Team Manager will contact the complainant every four weeks to update on progress.

The Stage Three process

The Student Casework Team Manager will be expected to conduct an impartial review of the complaint, though this will not necessarily mean carrying out a full new investigation of the matters raised. They will review the case, the way in which it was investigated and the response given. Any new evidence supplied will be considered only if there is a clear case to do so i.e., it was reasonably not supplied at the time of the original complaint.

In exceptional cases, the Student Casework Team Manager may arrange a meeting with the complainant and any other relevant persons. They may (or may not) seek further information from the complainant and/or those members of staff involved in the earlier investigation of the complaint. They may also consult a senior colleague responsible for the area under investigation.

The Student Casework Team Manager may decide:

  1. That the investigation was properly carried out and the response given was appropriate and consistent with other responses, and no further action is required.
  2. That there were shortcomings in the investigation carried out and/or the response given and/or that new evidence had been provided which warranted further investigation. In such cases the Student Casework Team Manager may make a decision regarding resolution of the complaint, or may refer the complaint back to the caseworker for further action.

The Student Casework Team Manager will ensure that a response is sent to the complainant in writing, copied to all other relevant parties. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Student Casework Team Manager may respond directly or ensure that a response is sent directly by an appropriate colleague.

The response will indicate the outcome and reasons for the outcome, and will confirm that internal procedures are complete; it will outline the right of the complainant to pursue the complaint further through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (in the case of complaints from current and former students) if they are not satisfied with the response. The Student Casework Team Manager will provide the complainant with a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter in line with OIA guidance.

Referral to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) has been set up to provide an independent scheme for the review of student complaints. A complaint by a current or former student may be taken to the OIA once the University’s internal complaints procedures have been exhausted and a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter has been issued.

You can find out more information about a Completion of Procedures Letter and when you should expect one on the Completion of Procedures Letters page of the OIA’s website.

After a complaint has been referred to the OIA, the OIA will write to the University asking for additional information. The Student Casework Team will respond to such enquiries, and will do so in accordance with OIA timeframes.

The OIA will investigate the complaint, and if the complaint is found to be justified may ultimately make recommendations to the University, which are actioned via relevant departments and reported on in an annual report.

Complainants who are not current or former students are not able to pursue a complaint through the OIA. Any complainant has the right to pursue legal action against the University. The Student Casework Team Manager will coordinate the University’s response to such action.

You can find more information about making a complaint to the OIA, what it can and can not look at and what it can do to put things right on the Student tab of the OIA’s website.