Social Sciences are biggest complainers

By Rosannah Jones


Reports on the number of student complaints per year show that students in the College of Social Sciences have made the most complaints in each of the last four academic sessions.

Since the 2009-10 year, the highest number of academically-related complaints have come from students studying Social Sciences, with the most recent year for which there is data, 2012-13, having the highest number of complaints so far with a total of eleven.

In the academic year 2008-09, before the introduction of the college structure the University is organised into today, the faculty which grouped together Law, Business and Social Sciences again received the largest number of complaints.

The 2012-13 report also showed that the total number of complaints regarding the College of Social Sciences numbered twice as many as those regarding the College of Arts, which ranked second highest with four complaints. The College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences received just two complaints, as did Science & Engineering.

The data from the most recent report highlights “quality of teaching” and “harassment/discrimination/equality” complaints as being the most frequently recorded across all colleges. In the four years previous to 2012-13, complaints regarding the quality of teaching had never been more than four. In the past academic year – coming after the increases in tuition fees for RUK students – there were nine complaints criticising the quality of teaching.

Undergraduate students are also responsible for the most complaints, making up 56% and 61% of complaints in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively, while staff made no academically-related complaints in the last two years.

The absence of data and information regarding student complaints in other areas such as residential services and University facilities means a large proportion of student complaints are unaccounted for in this most recent report..

The University recently adopted a new Complaints Procedure in August 2013, which conducts a quarterly review of complaints. Under the new procedure, students and staff can complain about any of the following: the quality and standard of any service the University provides; the quality of facilities and learning resources; the quality and standards of academic services and personal support services; the quality and standards of University administrative processes; unfair treatment by a student or staff member.

The University website claims that this new Complaints Procedure is a fair and formal method of dealing with complaints received: “The Complaints Procedure allows complainants to raise matters of concern without fear of disadvantage and in the knowledge that privacy and confidentiality will be respected.”

Outside of the University, complaints can be made via the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman, where students who are dissatisfied with the final outcome of investigations can appeal for an external review.


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