What is an official complaint?
The G31 Student Complaint Regulation defines a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction that warrants a response.
However, it cannot provide an academic related outcome, such as a change in progression decision, and should therefore be distinguished from academic appeals.
We are committed to considering and investigating genuine complaints from students, which we see as an invaluable source of feedback, and undertake that any student submitting a complaint will not be treated less favourably in their university life or subsequent academic career.
Important to know:
- Any complaints which are deemed to be frivolous or vexatious may be terminated.
- The university does not accept anonymous complaints.
In this article:
- Understanding the complaints process
- Making a complaint
- Making a complaint about the impact of special circumstances
Stage 1: Local informal resolution
In the first instance, you should attempt to resolve any issues informally and locally with the relevant person, at the earliest opportunity. This individual will not conduct a formal investigation, but will attempt to resolve the matter quickly and informally.
If no satisfactory resolution can be reached, you may escalate your complaint to Stage 2 of the complaints process.
Although you don’t have to, generally it is expected that you wait for the outcome of a Stage 1 Complaint before escalating your case to Stage 2.
We encourage you to seek advice both prior to and during the use of the complaints procedure from any of the following sources:
- Your Personal Tutors or Graduate Tutor
- Student Adviser
- Disability Support
- Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team
- KCLSU Advice
- Student Conduct & Appeals
- Programme or student representative
- Your PhD or project supervisor
- The Centre for Doctoral Studies
- A nominated person in the relevant service area, e.g. in Students & Education, Estates & Facilities, Library Services and Information Technology Services, as appropriate
- Residences Services Manager
- Assigned mentor
Stage 2: Formal Investigation
If you wish to make a Stage 2 Complaint, this should be made no later than 3 months after the incident complained about or the last event in a series of incidents. A complaint received after this deadline will only be accepted at the discretion of Student Conduct & Appeals.
Stage 3: Appeal
Following completion of a Stage 2 Complaint, you may submit a Stage 3 Appeal if you are dissatisfied with the previous outcome.
When can appeals be made?
In accordance with the Academic Regulations (see G31, pg. 84) the Vice-Principal (Education) will allow an appeal to be heard, if they are satisfied that one or both of the following grounds are met:
- Where there is new evidence that could not have been, or for good reason was not, made available at the time of the investigation by the Director of Students & Education, and that sufficient evidence remains that the complaint warrants further investigation;
- Where evidence can be produced of a significant procedural error on the part of the university in investigating the complaint, and that sufficient evidence remains that the complaint warrants further consideration.
Key things to know:
- The Vice-Principal (Education) also has the discretion to grounds other than those stated above, including grounds of compassion, in deciding whether to allow an appeal to be heard.
- The Vice-Principal (Education) will determine whether the criteria for an appeal have been met. Where they have, an Appeal Committee will be convened; otherwise, the appeal will be dismissed.
- This decision will normally be communicated within 20 working days of receipt of the Stage 3 Complaint.
What happens in the appeals process?
- Where an Appeal Committee is convened, you will normally receive at least 10 working days' notice of the hearing, and you will be invited to present your case to the Panel.
- Relevant staff from the department(s) complained about will also be invited to present evidence.
- The Committee will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to challenge the decision arrived at during Stage 2; where it concludes such evidence is present, it will make a judgment on the complaint, and make appropriate proposals or recommendations to resolve the complaint.
- The decision of the Committee communicated to you and appropriate staff within 5 working days of the decision.
Can the appeal be reviewed?
When all internal procedures are complete, you may request an independent review of your case by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), if you are dissatisfied with the university’s . For more information, please read I’m not happy with the final decision of the university, what can I do?
In the first instance, complaints should be raised informally with a relevant individual, such as a Personal Tutor, Senior Tutor, or Head of Department for a local level investigation to be undertaken at Stage 1 of the Student Complaints Procedure.
If your complaint relates to the conduct of another student, it will be considered under the Misconduct Regulations, as outlined in the article How does the university handle academic misconduct? King’s College London is committed to providing and promoting a positive environment for all members of the King’s.
If you are seeking an academic outcome, such as a resit, it will be considered under the Appeals Procedure.
Can I make a joint complaint with other students?
You may submit a ‘group complaint’ to the university for consideration, in accordance with the stages set out in the Student Complaints Procedure above.
To manage the complaint, Student Conduct & Appeals may ask your group to nominate one student to act as group representative. In such cases, they will normally communicate with the nominated representative only.
I’m not happy with the outcome of my Stage 1 complaint, is there anything I can do?
If you are not satisfied with the resolutions proposed at Stage 1, you can initiate a formal Stage 2 Complaint.
A Stage 2 Complaint Form should be submitted to Student Conduct & Appeals, by email, within 3 months of the incident or the last incident in a sequence of events giving rise to the complaint.
For more detail about this, please refer to our guidance for Stage 2 above.
When will I receive the result of my Stage 2 complaint?
Stage 2 complaint outcomes should normally be communicated within 25 working days of the submission of the Stage 2 Complaint Form.
The outcome will be communicated by email only to your KCL and personal email accounts, as stored on your student record. If you have not received a decision within this timeframe, please contact Student Conduct & Appeals for an update on your case.
I’m not happy with the outcome of my Stage 2 complaint, is there anything I can do?
You may submit a Stage 3 complaint appeal if you wish to challenge the decision made by the Complaint Investigator at Stage 2.
However, an appeal can only be submitted under certain grounds, which are set out on the form and in the regulations. Appeals based on disagreement alone are not permitted.
The Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form should be submitted within 10 working days of the Stage 2 Complaint outcome to Student Conduct & Appeals by email.
For more detail on what happens at this stage, please refer to our guidance for Stage 3 above.
When will I receive the result of my Stage 3 complaint?
- Stage 3 complaint outcomes should normally be communicated within 20 working days of the submission of the Stage 3 Complaint Form.
- The outcome will be communicated by email only to your KCL and personal email accounts, as stored on your student record.
- If you have not received a decision within this timeframe, please contact Student Conduct & Appeals for an update on your case.
For more detail on what happens at this stage, please refer to our guidance for Stage 3 above.
I’m not happy with the final decision of the university, what can I do?
If you have exhausted the university's internal procedures and are dissatisfied with the final decision, you may escalate your case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (‘OIA’) for an independent review to be undertaken.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is an independent body set up to review student complaints. It is free to students and deals with individual complaints against Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales.
When all internal procedures are complete, you may request an independent review of your case by the OIA, if you remain dissatisfied with the university’s . Provided the complaint is eligible under the rules of the OIA’s complaints scheme, the OIA will look at whether King's has applied its regulations properly and followed its procedures correctly. It also considers whether any decision made by King's was fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
For further information and detail on the OIA please visit Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).
A marking and assessment boycott was called by the University and College Union (UCU) from 20 April 2023 until September 2023.
If you believe your studies have been impacted by the boycott you may wish to see the information in our article How might industrial action – including the marking and assessment boycott – affect my exams, assessments, progression and graduation?
If you are not satisfied with the university in respect of the marking and assessment boycott, you may wish to make a complaint to Stage Two of the Student Complaints Policy. To do so, please complete this form.
Please note the following:
- You should not submit this form if you hope for an academic outcome, such as a further attempt at an assessment or a review of assessment marks. In such cases, please refer to the Academic Appeals Procedure, information about which can be found in our article How can I make an academic appeal?
- You should submit a Stage Two Complaint Form within three months of the incident complained about or the last event in a series of incidents. Complaints received after this deadline will only be accepted at the discretion of the Head of Student Conduct & Appeals. Complaints must be submitted by the student making the complaint, and you must be logged in to your own King’s IT account to complete the form. If you no longer have access to your King's account, do not continue with this form using anyone else's login. Instead, email firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance on submitting your complaint.
Before completing this form, please refer to the Student Complaints Policy, as it contains important information about the complaint procedure.
How can I make a complaint about the industrial action in terms one and two?
What support is available?