University Secretary's Group

Complaint Handling Reports

In line with the requirements of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), the University has a two-stage procedure (CHP) for handling complaints.

Stage 1 Frontline Resolution is used in the majority of cases, with likely outcomes being an on-the-spot apology, an explanation or other action to resolve the complaint very quickly (usually within five working days). Stage 2 Complaint Investigation is appropriate where attempts at Frontline Resolution have failed, or where the issue is sufficiently complex, serious or high risk from the outset that Frontline Resolution would not be appropriate.

The University is committed to reporting regularly on:

1) performance statistics detailing complaint volumes, types and key performance information, for example on time taken and stage at which complaints were resolved


2) the trends and outcomes of complaints and the actions taken in response including examples to demonstrate how complaints have helped improve services.

Complaint Report 2013-14

During the 11 month period 1 September 2013 - 31 July 2014, the University recorded a total of 392 complaints. During the full academic year, a total of 20 cases went to Stage 2 Complaint Investigation, meaning that 95% of complaints were resolved at Frontline, the majority within the five day period specified in the CHP.

Investigations should be completed within a maximum of 20 working days, unless an extension is given for good reason. The breakdown of time taken over investigations is as follows:

Within 20 working days 8
Within 25 working days 2
Within a significantly longer period (max 4 months) 8
Withdrawn by complainant before completed 2


In all but one of the cases which took significantly more than 20 days, the delay was wholly or primarily due to the complainant - either due to absence or difficulty contacting the complainant, the complainant taking longer to respond, or because investigation was put on hold at some point at the request of the complainant. In one case, however, the delay was the responsibility of the University.


The breakdown of Stage 2 investigation outcomes is as follows:

Complaint fully upheld 1
Complaint partially upheld* 6
Complaint not upheld 11
Complaint withdrawn 2

*Many complaints cover several issues. Where any of these are upheld, the outcome for the investigation as a whole is recorded as ‘partially upheld’.

Examples of improvements to services arising from complaint investigations include revised guidance to a School about provision of equipment for new PGR students; modified procedures for providing feedback to unsuccessful applicants for admission; guidance to a School regarding PGR supervision during sabbatical leave.