Student complaints and appeals procedures - for students studying an award-bearing programe | Institute of Continuing Education skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education

About the complaints and appeals procedures

These procedures apply to all students taking a University of Cambridge award with the Institute of Continuing Education. Please note that matriculated students taking MSt courses are subject to the University’s disciplinary procedures as set out in the University’s Statutes and Ordinances: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/university-formal-procedures.

The Institute’s formal complaints and appeals procedures do not cover complaints that relate to matters of academic judgement. Complaints on such grounds are therefore not likely to be accepted, and will ordinarily be dismissed or otherwise deemed ineligible for consideration. This position corresponds in principle to that adopted by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) with regard to its reviews of student complaints (OIA Rule 3.2).

An appeal or complaint can normally only be made by the student affected. Where issues raised affect a number of students, those students can submit a group complaint or appeal, although to manage the process the group will be asked to nominate one student to act as the group representative.

The complaints process

About the complaints procedure

The University is committed to high quality of educational and other provision for students, and encourages students to say where there is cause for concern in individual or general matters.

The University aims to handle complaints in a way which is sympathetic, fair, and efficient, which encourages informal conciliation, facilitates early resolution, maintains individual privacy and confidentiality, and permits useful feedback.

The University's Student Complaints Procedure and guidance can be found at www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/student-complaints. The procedure can only be used by a Registered Student, which includes ICE students pursuing a course of study leading to the award of a certificate or diploma. Before making a complaint, students are asked to consult the procedure, read the explanatory notes on the procedure and are encouraged to seek support from an advisor of their choice.

ICE offers procedural support through the ICE Appeals and Complaints Procedures Advisor (qa@ice.cam.ac.uk). The Advisor cannot instruct students on the merit or otherwise of their complaint or act on the students’ behalf, but will guide them through the process and provide procedural advice at each stage. Communication with the Advisor may be shared within ICE to enable the complaint to be handled more effectively.

The  University’s Student Complaints Procedure has three stages: Local Resolution, Formal Resolution and Review. The Local Resolution procedure, dealt with by ICE, is outlined below.

Local Resolution

This  procedure should be read in conjunction with the full Student Complaints Procedure and guidance (www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/student-complaints).

Because the purpose of the complaints procedure is to resolve problems, it is very important to voice concerns or to register the nature of a complaint as early as possible, as it often enables the problem to be resolved quickly and informally. It is expected that an issue will be raised as soon as possible and in any event within 28 calendar days of it occurring, to enable swift resolution. Complaints or evidence submitted outside of this timeframe will not be accepted unless there is a valid reason for delay, which will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Complainants should raise raise complaints, in writing or in person, to the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) at qa@ice.cam.ac.uk.

The Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) will acknowledge the complaint and investigate and consider the case, consulting with appropriate individuals, as required.

A complaint may be resolved quickly and efficiently by simple consultation or discussion with the appropriate people, such as those listed below:

  • Tutor
  • Course Director
  • Academic Director
  • Supervisor
  • Academic Programme Manager/Public Programmes Co-ordinator
  • Director of International Programmes
  • Director of Programmes
  • Admissions Manager
  • Education and Student Services Manager
  • Appropriate departmental administrator

The Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) may invite the Complainant to a meeting as part of an investigation, but is not obliged to hold such a meeting. If such meeting is held, the Complainant may be accompanied or represented by someone of the Complainant’s choosing.

Once the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) has completed the investigations on the complaint, s/he will respond, in writing, in a timely manner and normally within 21 calendar days of its receipt. Where a response cannot be provided within 21 calendar days, the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) will write to the Complainant within that period to indicate the reasons for delay and when a response is likely to be provided. The written response will inform the Complainant about the next stage of the Procedure where the Complainant remains dissatisfied with the response.

 

Academic appeals from students

The academic appeals procedure is limited to instances where a student has failed to be approved for the qualification for which s/he has been examined. The following procedure must be observed, except in the case of the Institute’s International Programmes Division where credit is only awarded by an external body. In such cases, appeals concerning award of credit must be taken up with the relevant external institution.

Requests for consideration regarding personal difficulties that significantly affect a student’s study should be made through the mitigating circumstances procedure.

The appeals process has two stages:

  • Stage 1: Formal process
  • Stage 2: Review process

A student may withdraw an appeal or stop the process at any time in Stage 1 and in Stage 2, with the consent of the University Reviewer by contacting the Education and Student Services Manager at qa@ice.cam.ac.uk.

If a student is contemplating making an appeal relating to the award of a qualification s/he may wish to contact the ICE Appeals and Complaints Procedures Advisor at qa@ice.cam.ac.uk. The Advisor cannot advise the student on the merit or otherwise of the appeal or act on the student’s behalf, but will guide the student through the process and provide procedural advice at each stage. Communication with the Advisor may be shared within ICE to enable a student’s appeal to be handled more effectively.

Stage 1: Formal stage

As the first stage in making an appeal, the student should contact the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) by completing the Student Appeals Form (Stage 1). If students require an alternative format of the form they should contact the Education and Student Services Manager (qa@ice.cam.ac.uk). This initial contact should be made within 14 calendar days after receiving formal notification of the failure to achieve the qualification for which the student has been examined. If there are exceptional circumstances, ICE may consider accepting an appeal after the 14-day appeal period has expired.

The Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) will acknowledge the request for a review when received. If the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) requires additional documentary evidence from the student, it should be provided by the student within 14 calendar days of the request.

The review will be conducted by the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) who will consult the relevant Subject Moderation Panel and other persons or bodies, if appropriate.

Following full consideration of the case, the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) may make one of the following decisions:

  • dismiss the appeal giving reasons
  • require the Chairperson of the Subject Moderation Panel to reconvene the meeting of the examiners (which could be by remote means) to reconsider their earlier decision
  • require the appointment of an additional examiner and reconvene a meeting of the original examiners (which could be by remote means), together with the additional examiner to reconsider their earlier decision
  • require re-examination of the student’s course work and, where relevant, examination papers, under whatever arrangements may be specified by the Deputy Director of ICE (or delegate)
  • determine such other procedure as appears fair and appropriate in the circumstances.

The review will normally be completed within 21 calendar days of receiving the request for a review or receiving the requested additional documentary evidence.

The Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) will advise the student in writing of the outcome of the review.

If the student is not satisfied with the outcome, whether the appeal is upheld or not, s/he may consider whether to pursue the appeal through Stage 2 (review process).

 If the appeal is taken to Stage 2, the student will be expected to explain in the Student Appeal Form (Stage 2) the grounds on which the appeal should be carried forward by stating in what way the appeal had not been fully addressed through the Stage 1 formal process.

Stage 2: Review Stage

If a student decides to pursue an appeal to Stage 2, s/he may contact the Director of Continuing Education by completing the Student Appeals Form (Stage 2) within 14 calendar days of receiving notification of the outcome of Stage 1. The ICE Appeals and Complaints Procedures Advisor (qa@ice.cam.ac.uk) will direct the student to the relevant online form.

If this case is considered by the Director of Continuing Education to be frivolous, vexatious or without grounds the complaint will not proceed.

On receiving an appeal form, the Director of Continuing Education will request the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate) to provide, normally within 14 calendar days, a full written report covering all the circumstances leading to the request for review, a copy of which will be provided to the student.

The Director of Continuing Education will invite the student to make representations in writing on the written report within a further 7 calendar days, or longer where appropriate, and will then appoint a University Reviewer with no prior involvement in the case.

The University Reviewer will be appointed by the General Board of the Faculties and will be a member of the Regent House or a senior member of a Cambridge College. The appointment of a University Reviewer is a formal procedure that will normally be completed within 30 calendar days.

The University Reviewer will consider all documents relating to the case, including the report of the Acting Quality Assurance Officer (or delegate), the student’s representations and the results of any further enquiries the University Reviewer may make, at his/her discretion. All documents considered by the University Reviewer will be made available to the student.

The University Reviewer will issue a written summary containing the findings about the appeal. The University Reviewer will consider:

  • the nature and progression through Stages 1 and 2 of the appeal
  • the fair and accurate implementation of the Institute’s procedures
  • the Institute’s judgements on the appeal.

The ICE Education and Student Services Manager will assist the University Reviewer and prepares the draft summary of the findings and any recommendations.

The University Reviewer may make recommendations as to remedies to be adopted or other action recommended to be taken. The University Reviewer will provide reasons for the decision.

The University Reviewer may terminate the proceedings at any time or determine that an appeal is rejected as vexatious or unjustified.

The Director of Continuing Education will communicate the decision of the University Reviewer to the student, in writing, normally within 14 calendar days of the completion of the review, along with a completion of procedures letter.

The decision of the University Reviewer is final within the University and will be reported to the ICE Academic Policy and Operations Committee.

Students who remain dissatisfied following completion of the University’s formal internal review and appeals procedures and after receiving a completion of procedures letter may refer the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

If a student remains dissatisfied following completion of the University’s formal internal review and appeals and complaints procedures, and after receipt of a completion of procedures letter, s/he may refer the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. The OIA provides a statutory system of review by an independent national adjudicator, pursuant to the Higher Education Act 2004. The service is free to students.

The OIA operates strict time limits for applications and there are narrowly defined rules over the areas that can be reviewed – matters of academic judgement and issues relating to admissions, for example, are excluded. Information about the service can be found at: www.oiahe.org.uk.

Course type: 
Part-time Master's Degree
Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma
Undergraduate Certificate/Diploma
Topic: 
Appeals and complaints
Policies

How can we help?

Telephone

Course enquiries: +44 (0)1223 746262

International Summer Programmes: +44 (0)1223 760850

Madingley Hall reception: +44 (0)1223 746222

Hours: 9.00am to 4.30pm (Mon - Fri)

 

Email

Short courses at Madingley Hall:
ice.admissions@ice.cam.ac.uk

Online courses:
onlinecourses@ice.cam.ac.uk

International Summer Programmes:
intenq@ice.cam.ac.uk

Undergraduate Certificates and Diplomas:
ug-awards@ice.cam.ac.uk

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas:
pg-awards@ice.cam.ac.uk

Part-time Master's degrees (MSts):
pg-awards@ice.cam.ac.uk

General enquiries:
enquiries@ice.cam.ac.uk