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Making a Complaint to the University

If you are unhappy about something that the University has done (or not done) or about a member of staff, you have a right to complain about this, and we can support you in doing so. A complaint may be an effective way to address your problem.

You can complain about things like:

  • The admissions process 
  • The disciplinary process 
  • Wrong information about academic programmes or college services
  • The quality and availability of facilities and learning resource 
  • Accessibility of our buildings or services 
  • Failure or refusal to provide a service 
  • Inadequate quality or standard of service or an unreasonable delay in providing a service 
  • The quality of facilities or learning resources

A full list or a list of what you cannot submit through the Complaints Procedure can be found here.

If you are looking to submit a complaint about HISA – we have a separate Complaints Procedure which you can find here.

How do I complain?

One option is UHI's The Red Button, an informal problem resolution and feedback mechanism. When you submit via the Red Button, an email will be sent to Dr Iain Morrison, Dean of Student Experience.

He will liaise with appropriate colleagues across the University and, if relevant, will keep you informed about the progress of your message. It is often helpful to put you directly in contact with other colleagues at UHI who can help.

If you would prefer to remain anonymous, please mention this in your email, and your name will not be passed on to anyone in relation to your message.

After submitting the Red Button form, you will receive an acknowledgement within three working days.

If you prefer to take the formal route, you can complain in person, by phone, in writing, by email, or via the UHI complaints format

What do I need to know about the Complaints Procedure?

There are two stages of complaint: Stage 1 (sometimes called Frontline Resolution) and Stage 2 (sometimes called Investigation). 

This generally allows for two opportunities for a complaint to be resolved, which can be helpful if, after raising a complaint, you feel it hasn’t been dealt with correctly.

It is normally only possible to complain about matters that occurred in the last six months. If what you are complaining about happened more than six months ago, but you have only just discovered that you have reason to complain, you will still be able to use the complaints process. In exceptional circumstances, complaints can be considered outside this six-month time scale. 

What are the timescales for getting a decision?

For Stage 1 cases, UHI will aim to give you a decision in five working days or less unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you are not satisfied with the response given at this stage, UHI will advise you on what you can do next. If you choose to, you can take your complaint to Stage 2. When cases are in Stage 2, UHI will aim to give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days, but if it takes longer than 20 working days, UHI will advise you of the timescales.

What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the decision after Stage 2?

After UHI provides you with their final decision and you are still dissatisfied, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to review the decision. The SPSO is an independent body that oversees complaints and appeals processes within the university and other public institutions. The SPSO cannot look at the academic judgement and does not have the power to revise course awards. This can only be achieved through an academic appeals process. The SPSO considers complaints about service quality and maladministration, which may include course delivery issues.

If you would like to read more about college and university complaints, you can view the SPSO's student advice leaflet here (PDF 456 KB)

How can the Advice Service help me with complaints?

The Advice Service has experience supporting students who are raising complaints. The process can feel difficult and stressful, and that is where we can help you. 

The Advice Service can assist you in complaining effectively. We can help you compile any evidence you need to support your complaint and prepare your statement. In most cases, we can also help you by attending investigation meetings with you for support and reading through outcomes if you would like support in understanding the decision given.

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