White Paper Conferences organised a day on various issues surrounding student complaints. This was obviously a popular topic as the location changed before the day due to the numbers of people attending! The day was framed around a series of speakers from different aspects of the complaints process – from the QAA, OIA to University Registrars and Governors – who had all been given a particular question or set of questions to address. This should have made for an engaging series of presentations but sadly the styles were very mixed. Those speakers who addressed the questions were the best (unsurprisingly!). The solicitor who took us through various scenarios, such as the segregation of lecture theatres, and the legal position was interesting. Presentations from Universities such as Swansea and Hertfordshire who have developed different processes to deal with complex complaints – such as “hyrid” complaints/appeals processes and “third party” policies – were useful examples to consider at City. And the presentation on social media and addressing complaints had some useful tips on how if social media is mishandled it can be bad for the University’s reputation. However, those of us who attended from City (Andrea, Helen Fitch from Student and Academic Services and myself) felt that at the end of the day we were left with more questions than answers. The very general nature of the presentations did not enable us to really address the very complex and thorny complaints that we are often faced with, as are many others in the audience. It was heartening to know that we are not alone, but we needed more case studies and opportunities to work through some “real” examples to get more out of the day.
All the presentations should be on the White Paper website above but at the time of writing are not there yet.