Carlow College seeks to resolve as quickly and fairly as possible any complaints made by a student or students about services provided by the College or about their treatment by any staff member or student. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that such concerns can be investigated with the aim of reaching a satisfactory solution.
When people have a problem they usually want:
- To be listened to;
- To have their problems accepted as important;
- To be offered an apology if there are reasonable grounds for such;
- To be offered a solution;
- To be reassured that the problem will not happen again.
Not all problems have perfect solutions and some people may seem unreasonable but it is important that everyone is heard.
Step One – Problem Solving – Informal
The Student Advice and Information Officer dealing with the informal stage should take four important steps. (If the Student Advice and Information Officer is the subject of the student’s dissatisfaction, the College Counsellor should be consulted as a replacement.) He or she should establish the reasonableness of the complaint by taking the following steps:
Listen with interest and concern and give the person time to present their problem. It can be difficult when somebody is angry or upset. The person complaining should be allowed to say as much or as little as they want. It is important to try and empathise with the individual and to find out what outcome is desired by the person.
The problem may be addressed immediately by offering appropriate advice or information. It may be possible to make a phone call or write an email to seek clarification on the student’s behalf or to seek further information. The student may not be aware of certain policies and procedures that govern the issue that they have raised and the rationale for these might need to be explained. The party complained of (where this is the case) must be alerted in the interests of an informed resolution.
In cases where the person wants to make a formal complaint the college student complaints’ procedure should be fully explained. A request for an appointment with either the relevant Academic Adviser (academic matters) or the Student Affairs Team Representative (non-academic matters) should be made if there is no conflict of interest. If the complaint is of a serious nature it should be immediately referred to the Registrar to be dealt with by the Registrar’s Office.
The complainant should be assisted by the Student Advice and Information Officer to put their complaint in writing and should be informed that a copy will be sent to all relevant parties.
A record should be kept on file of any referral to the formal complaints’ procedure and all paperwork should be stored in the HR office.
Step Two – The Investigation (Formal)
In relation to academic matters, the Student Advice and Information Officer should arrange to meet with the Academic Adviser, a student union representative and the complainant. A support person of the complainant’s choice may also be invited to this meeting and all subsequent meetings if the complainant wishes.
In the case of non-academic matters, the Student Advice and Information Officer should arrange to meet with the nominated member from the Student Affairs Team (SAT) designated by SAT, a student union representative and the complainant. A support person of the complainant’s choice may also be invited to this meeting and all subsequent meetings if the complainant wishes.
Details of the complaint will be fully discussed and documented at this meeting by the Student Advice and Information Officer. An agreement will be reached as to the relevant paperwork to be reviewed and the appropriate people to be interviewed.
The investigation will be undertaken by the Academic Adviser and Student Union representative (academic matters) or the SAT and Student Union representatives (non-academic matters). This should be completed within 14 days. The Academic Adviser and Student Union representative, or the SAT and Student Union representative, will arrange to meet with the complainant to inform them of their findings. If appropriate, other parties relevant to the complaint may also be invited to that meeting.
|Academic Issues||Non-Academic Issues|
|Student Advice and Information Office||Student Advice and Information Office|
|Academic Advisor and Student Union||Student Affairs Team and Student Union Representative|
Step Three – The Appeal
The complainant can appeal in writing within 28 days of the result of the investigation being made known to them. In the case of academic matters, the Registrar and one member of the Academic Council will be appointed to conduct a further investigation. They will do so by reviewing all documentation and will interview all relevant parties, including the complainant. Where necessary a special meeting of the Academic Council may be convened. This phase should be completed within 28 days.
In the case of non-academic matters, the House Manager and another member of the Management Board will be appointed to conduct a further investigation. They will do so by reviewing all documentation and will interview all relevant parties, including the complainant. Where necessary a special meeting of the Management Board may be convened. This phase should be completed within 28 days.
A meeting will be held with the complainant to inform them of their findings. If appropriate, other parties relevant to the complaint may also be invited to that meeting.
Students have a right to complain, a right to be heard, a right to have their complaint looked into and a right to have it resolved as quickly as possible. It is not possible for all complaints to be fully resolved. However, even those complainants who do not achieve their desired outcome should know that they were listened to, that someone took the time and trouble to look into their concerns and to offer an explanation.
|Academic Issues||Non-Academic Issues|
|Registrar and one member of the Academic Council||House Manager and member of the Management Board|