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Make a complaint

We take complaints about our work, staff, members and levels of service very seriously. If you are not satisfied, please follow the process for raising a complaint. Please email and your feedback will be explored. If you feel there is an issue that you feel you would like to make a complaint please see the UPSU Complaints Procedure below.



UPSU Complaints Procedure


UPSU is committed to delivering a high quality service and we encourage customers to advise us when there is cause for concern and a case for improvement.


1: What is a complaint?


A complaint is a formal expression of dissatisfaction made by either an individual student or a group of students about the quality of service, the acceptability of standards, the appropriateness of communications provided by University of Plymouth Students' Union (UPSU), or in connection with an officially authorised Union activity; for which an identifiable outcome is sought.


2: What is not classified as a complaint under this procedure?


Complaints which:

  1. are made anonymously and/or;
  2. are made by a third party (including parents, guardians or friends of registered students) and/or;
  3. have already been investigated and disposed of by UPSU and/or;
  4. are made outside of the time limit and/or;
  5. are malicious, vexatious or frivolous;

will not be dealt with under this procedure.

A complaint is also not the way to express dissatisfaction against UPSU policy or the political decisions of Elected Officers / Representatives. Dissatisfaction on this should be directed to the appropriate Students' Union governance structure and/or full-time officer, advice on which is available via the UPSU Student Voice department.

The complaints procedure does not interfere with licensees' obligations to the Courts concerning the running of licensed premises. A licensee has the right to exclude persons from the premises in appropriate circumstances.


3: Principles


The complaints procedure shall abide by the following principles.

  1. If complainants feel they have reasonable grounds for complaint, they will not be hindered or victimised in making a complaint. UPSU will act without bias or prejudice, with the objective of establishing the facts and coming to a reasonable and just resolution, which is relevant and proportionate.
  2. Any complainant seeking guidance on how to make a complaint to UPSU shall have access to timely and accurate advice.
  3. A complaint must be notified within 20 working days of the event or circumstances which are its cause. If the complaint relates to a series of events, the complaint should normally be within 20 working days of the most recent event.
  4. Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated.
  5. Complaints will be dealt with in a timely manner and the complainant will be kept informed of the progress of the investigation at every stage.
  6. No complainant should be disadvantaged for making complaints in good faith, and all reasonable complaints will be taken seriously and dealt with according to this procedure. However, if it is established that complaints are malicious, vexatious or frivolous, then they will not be considered reasonable, and UPSU may consider taking formal disciplinary action against students making such a complaint.
  7. Complaints will be handled with an appropriate level of confidentiality, with information released only to those who need it for the purposes of investigating or responding to the complaint. No third party should be told any more about the investigation than is strictly necessary in order to obtain the information required from them.
  8. Any person who is the subject of a complaint has the right to be supplied with a copy of the complaint, and to comment on it.

The Director of Student Experience will oversee the complaints process. They will be available to all, both complainant and those subject to complaint, to provide advice and guidance on process. If a complainant wishes to register a complaint against the Director of Student Experience it should be directed to the UPSU Chief Executive.


4: Stages in the Complaints Procedure


The complaints procedure comprises of three stages;

  • Stage 1: the informal stage
  • Stage 2: the formal stage
  • Stage 3: the appeal stage

Stage 1 - Informal Stage

UPSU recognises that most complaints can usually be easily and amicably resolved informally and where possible these should be dealt with as soon as the matter arises. Therefore, in the first instance, all complainants should initially approach those directly responsible within UPSU.

UPSU will attempt to resolve the complaint informally as soon as possible. The nominated staff member shall enquire into the complaint, discuss it with the complainant and advise the complainant of his/her decision normally within 5 working days after the complaint is received. If a complaint has still not been resolved in accordance with this informal procedure, or the complainant feels unable to approach the relevant person directly, the complainant should invoke the formal complaints procedures, as outlined in Stage 2.

Stage 2 - Formal Stage

All stage 2 formal complaints must be submitted by the complainant, to the Director of Student Experience using the UPSU complaints form which is available to download via It must be emailed to This form must be submitted within 20 working days of the event or circumstances which the complainant is wishing to make a complaint on. If a complaint relates to a series of events the form should be submitted within 20 working days of the most recent event.

The UPSU complaints form requires the student to give details of the following:

  1. The name(s) and contact details for the complainant;
  2. The outline of the nature of the compliant;
  3. Any action(s) taken so far to resolve the issue(s) under stage 1 of this complaints procedure;
  4. The outcome/resolution the student is seeking in order to resolve the matter which is the subject of the complaint;
  5. Any supporting evidence which relates to the complaint e.g. emails, copies of letters, witness statements and any other relevant supporting documentation, should be attached to the form when submitted.


On receipt of a completed UPSU complaints form, the Director of Student Experience will officially log the complaint, along with any supporting documentation and dispatch a standard letter of acknowledgement to the email address supplied. This should be sent out within 10 working days of the date of submission. The submission of a completed form constitutes the formalisation of the complaint, and all future correspondence regarding the complaint will be kept on record.


Upon the receipt of a complaints form, the Director of Student Experience will confirm whether the complaint is eligible to be heard under the UPSU Complaints Procedure. If the complaint meets eligibility requirements and thus requires 'further consideration', the Director of Student Experience will then continue with the implementation of this procedure. If the complaint is deemed to be in-eligible, the Director of Student Experience shall write to the complainant to notify them of this decision. This should be sent out within 10 working days of the acknowledgment date and will provide details as to the complainants right to appeal. This appeal must be lodged in writing within 10 working days of the receipt of the email.

Further Consideration / Investigation

All valid complaints that are eligible to this procedure shall be forwarded by the Director of Student Experience to be investigated by the relevant person 'Investigating Manager' who the complaint applies to:

  1. The Departmental Manager will normally be asked to investigate complaints about services / student staff within their responsibility
  2. The Chief Executive or relevant Director will normally be asked to investigate complaints about permanent staff
  3. If the complaint is regarding the behaviour of an individual member, group, sports club or society the Members Disciplinary Bylaw will come into action.
  4. The Chief Executive will normally be expected to investigate complaints about the Executive Officers


Following the investigation, the Investigating Manager will produce a written report which summarises the evidence and will state whether the complaint has been upheld, partially upheld or rejected, the reason(s) for this decision, any recommendations and the student's right to appeal the decision(s). This will be sent to all parties (including the Director of Student Experience) in the complaint normally within 20 working days of the formal complaint having been received and officially logged. Should additional time be required this will be communicated along with the reasons why. It is the responsibility of the 'Investigating Manager' to make sure that a copy of the final report is sent to the Director of Student Experience, who will add this to the case file.


If the Investigating Manager makes a decision to 'Uphold' or 'Partially Uphold' the complaint they are able to offer the following:

  1. An apology;
  2. Access to further UPSU procedures;
  3. Actions to rectify the specific causes of the complaint (which may or may not directly correspond to the desired resolutions of the student);
  4. Make recommendations for financial compensation or restitution (as deemed appropriate following advice and subject to approval of the Chief Executive and Trustee Board).


Stage 3 - Appeal Stage


The complainant will have the right to appeal against the outcome of the investigation should the second stage of the complaints procedure fail to reconcile the parties i.e. either the student(s) or the person(s) at whom the complaint was raised refuse to accept the recommendations/outcome of the complaint report, they have right to appeal the decision.

The grounds of the appeal should be detailed and will normally include one or more of the following headings:

  1. Procedural error
  2. New evidence which could not have been made available at the stage 2.
  3. Unfair or perverse decision by Investigating Manager.
  4. Severity of the decision

The request for an appeal should be submitted in writing to the Director of Student Experience within 10 working days of the complainant receiving the complaints report from the stage 2. The Director of Student Experience will forward the appeal on to the Chief Executive and President who will consider the appeal.

The Chief Executive and President will inform the complainant of his/her/their decision, in writing, within 10 working days after the appeal application. If it is not possible to comply with these timescales (for example if further enquiries are necessary), the complainant will be informed of the delay, the reason for it and when he/she can expect to receive the decision.

If the individual is still dissatisfied, then they may refer their final appeal to the Union Board of Trustees via the President. A review will be led by one External Trustee and one other Trustee not previously included and their decision shall be final.


Download Complaints Form