Feedback and complaints procedure

General principles

  1. At the University of Exeter we are committed to the provision of high quality, fair and transparent admissions procedures for all our applicants. If applicants have cause for concern about the way their application has been handled, they may use these procedures to inform us of their concerns through either informal or formal channels.
  2. Our procedures do not apply to applicants whose programme of study is offered at a partner institution or to applicants whose programme is wholly delivered by a partner FE or HE Institution, except where selection for the full programme is the responsibility of the University of Exeter.
  3. We recognise that there may be occasions when applicants will wish to ask why their application has not been successful, or believe that they have cause for complaint. Applicants should note that they have no right to challenge or complain about decisions that are based on academic grounds.
  4. These procedures outline the way the University handles feedback, complaints and appeals. In this context, feedback is defined as communication from the University, on request from the applicant who has been unsuccessful in gaining an offer of a place. A complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction about the way in which an application has been handled or the outcome of the selection. In either case, it may concern actions or inaction by the University or its staff. An appeal is defined as a request for a formal review of the outcome of an admissions decision.

Feedback

  1. In the case of all applications, a decision will be communicated clearly in written format for postgraduate programmes.
  2. The University makes efforts to provide clear minimum entry requirements for all programmes and typical offers for postgraduate programmes are based on attainment grades at level 6 and 7 (Bachelor and Masters Degree level). These typical attainment levels are intended as a guide only, and we cannot guarantee that achievement or prediction of specified grades will guarantee an offer. Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes can be found within the individual programme descriptions on the taught programme webpages. Entry requirements for postgraduate research (MPhil/PhD) programmes can be found on the individual research programme pages. The University also provides clear information on assessment criteria and admissions processes on postgraduate study and individual college web pages together with other key indicators which are used to judge an applicants’ potential. The University expects applicants to have read the available information on entry requirements and assessment criteria before requesting further feedback, as in many cases this will explain why their application has been unsuccessful.
  3. If an application has been deemed unsuccessful, applicants will receive the response along with a brief description of the reasons as part of the decision notification.
  4. Requests for further individual feedback should be submitted in writing. Applicants must request their feedback within 6 weeks of a decision being made.
  5. In most cases lack of success is due to the level of competition for places rather than any specific weakness in an application, and consequently, we will not be able to advise applicants on how to strengthen any subsequent application. The exceptions are if an applicant did not have, for example, a crucial element such as work experience for the professional programmes, or if they did not meet the minimum entry requirements.
  6. Further information on the Feedback Policy can be found on the website, or you can request a copy by contacting the Admissions Office (admissions@exeter.ac.uk or telephone 0300 5556060 (UK callers)* +44(0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers).

Complaints

  1. Applicants have no right of appeal against a decision not to offer them a place at the University on academic grounds. Due to the level of competition particularly for selective programmes of study, there will inevitably be occasions when an applicant is disappointed with a selection decision. Providing that the decision can be shown to have been reached fairly and in accordance with the University’s published selection criteria, the original decision will not be overturned.
  2. Complaints may be made by individual applicants or by groups of applicants. They may only be made by a representative, a parent, academic institution, agent or any other third party if the admissions team has received the appropriate notification from the applicant.
  3. These procedures set out how applicants may seek to have complaints addressed. It should be recognised that the vast majority of applicant complaints can be handled fairly, amicably, and to the satisfaction of all concerned without recourse to the formal complaints procedure.
  4. In the first instance, applicants with a complaint should contact the Admissions Office at admissions@exeter.ac.uk to ask for feedback and an explanation of why their application was unsuccessful.
  5. If this programme of action proves unsatisfactory, then the formal complaints procedure should be followed.
  6. The University will seek to ensure that all complaints are treated seriously and constructively. It will also seek to ensure that complaints are dealt with promptly, with fairness and consistency. If a complaint is upheld, the University will take such action or provide such remedy as may be appropriate and will do so promptly. If a complaint is not upheld, the reasons for the decision will be communicated to the applicant.
  7. There will be no discrimination against any applicant who makes a complaint.
  8. Applicants lodging a complaint and those against whom complaints are made may expect complaints to be dealt with confidentially and with respect for their privacy. However, it may be necessary to disclose information to others in order to deal with the complaint and in these circumstances the parties concerned will be informed of such disclosure.
  9. Anonymous complaints will not be dealt with under this procedure.
  10. The Complaints Procedure provides for both informal and formal stages in the handling of a complaint. At each stage of the process, the person to whom the complaint has been referred shall, if it is upheld apply such remedies as are within their powers. If they consider that the remedy is outside their power, they shall refer the matter to the appropriate authority. If they feel unable to fulfil the requirements of the Complaints Procedure objectively because of prior involvement in the case, they will refer the matter to a senior colleague.
  11. The Head of Admissions will monitor, on an annual basis, formal complaints which have been referred, and will be responsible for implementing any changes to systems or procedures suggested by the nature and pattern of the complaints received.
  12. The Complaints Procedure was approved by the Admissions Policy Group and will be reviewed annually.

* Calls to this number are charged at 3p per minute from a standard BT line. Calls from a mobile may vary.

Procedures for Complaints

Stage one: informal complaint

  1. The applicant should normally first raise their complaint in writing with the Admissions Office outlining the nature and details of their complaint.
  2. The complaint must normally be made within 10 working days of the actions (or lack of actions) that prompted the complaint. The complainant will be contacted within ten working days and a record and any action taken as a result will be retained. If it proves impossible to respond fully within ten working days, the complainant shall be informed of the timescale for the receipt of a full response.
  3. If the complaint is about non-selection, the Admissions Office must confirm that the application was considered fairly and that the procedure for decision making was correctly applied. Provided that the Admissions Office is satisfied that this is the case, a response explaining the context in which the decision has been made is deemed to be an acceptable response. In the event that the complaint is upheld, the Admissions office will advise the complainant of the proposed remedy.

Stage two: formal complaint

  1. If the applicant is dissatisfied with the response they receive from the Admissions Office regarding their informal complaint (stage one) they should submit a formal written complaint within ten working days of receiving the response to the Director of Education and Student Experience.
  2. The written complaint should set out briefly: the nature of the complaint; any informal steps already taken; details of any response received; and a statement as to why they remain dissatisfied. The Director of Education and Student Experience shall investigate the complaint and shall respond to the complainant within fifteen working days of the receipt of the complaint. If it should prove impossible to respond fully within fifteen working days, the complainant shall be informed in writing of the timescale for the receipt of a full response.
  3. The Director’s decision following completion of this process will be considered final.

Admissions Office (amended as at February 2016)