Complaints Against a Research Supervisor
Take a look at the responsibilities of your supervisor as per the QUT policy. If you feel like those standards aren’t being met, you can initiate grievance procedures to try and get it worked out.
Level One – Informal resolution of grievance
Most grievances are resolved informally, through discussion with the involved parties.
A student is strongly encouraged to resolve matters as soon as possible and directly with the person/s concerned.
Students are encouraged to review relevant policies and procedures and may seek information, advice and support as appropriate from the Student Ombudsman and/or from relevant school/faculty/division/institute and services such as Student Business Services, Equity Services, the Counselling Service, and the QUT Student Guild. For Higher Degree Research students this can include the Research Student Centre or the Faculty research support office.
After seeking information and advice in relation to a matter of concern, a student may:
- take no further action; or
- make an informal approach to the person/s concerned; or
- request that a relevant university officer assist them to informally resolve the grievance; or
- ask the Student Ombudsman to assist with informal resolution of the grievance.
Any relevant university officer receiving a request for assistance to resolve a grievance should normally commence action to resolve the matter within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint.
A student seeking assistance from the Student Ombudsman is expected to advise the Student Ombudsman of all matters of concern and outcomes sought. After consultation with the student the Student Ombudsman may contact the relevant school/faculty/division/institute, or persons concerned to facilitate resolution of the grievance.
If the grievance is not able to be resolved quickly and relatively informally, the Student Ombudsman may nominate an appropriate individual to assist with informal resolution of the grievance.
Resolution may involve information gathering, consultation, liaison or conciliation with relevant parties.
Where the Student Ombudsman requests another person to facilitate the process, this person must advise the Student Ombudsman in writing of the proposed resolution including the reasons and recommendations for action.
The Student Ombudsman or relevant university officer will notify the complainant (and relevant parties) in writing of the outcome. Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman may make recommendations for further action. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area, or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.
Where a student is dissatisfied with the outcome, they may apply for Level Two formal grievance resolution.
Level Two – Formal resolution of grievance
The complainant may request in writing that the Student Ombudsman refer their grievance to the relevant senior officer. The request should identify all matters of concern and outcomes sought. The Student Ombudsman will normally facilitate the process and advise the complainant of available support services where appropriate. Following consultation with the complainant, the Student Ombudsman may elect to handle the complaint in the first instance by discussions with the relevant parties. Resolution of the matter at this level should normally be commenced within 10 working days of receipt of the grievance by the Student Ombudsman.
The senior officer will normally be requested to initiate a formal process where an informal approach has been unsuccessful; or an informal process is not appropriate.
The senior officer may undertake any of the following to resolve the grievance:
- discuss options for resolution with the relevant parties
- consider all relevant matters and where appropriate make further enquiries
- discuss the situation with the complainant and relevant parties to the grievance in an attempt to conciliate the grievance
- conduct an investigation or, in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, appoint a suitably qualified person to do so on their behalf.
The complainant and/or the respondent may elect to be supported by a person of their choice who could be a representative of the QUT Student Guild or the relevant staff union. This person must not be a practising lawyer.
The senior officer, in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will determine how the grievance is to be resolved. The Student Ombudsman will be advised in writing of the reasons for the senior officer’s decision, and proposed actions.
The Student Ombudsman will advise the complainant (and relevant parties) in writing of the outcome.
Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman may make recommendations to the senior officer, as relevant, for further action. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.
Level Three – Formal grievance determination
A complainant cannot proceed to Level Three of the formal resolution process without an attempt to resolve the grievance at Level Two.
Where the grievance is not resolved at Level Two, the complainant may request that the Registrar progress the grievance to Level Three. The request must be made within 10 working days of notification of the outcome at Level Two.
The matter will not be accepted at Level Three unless the application presented by the complainant includes:
- new information that may have had a material effect on the result at Level Two had it been known at the time; or
- reasons why the decision made at the conclusion of Level Two does not comply with QUT policy, rules or procedure.
The Registrar will not progress complaints to Level Three that are lacking in substance or repeat and pursue issues which have been previously addressed. The Registrar will be provided with access to all university records related to the management of the grievance.
Where the Registrar decides that the matter should proceed to Level Three, an independent investigation will commence. The Registrar following consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will elect for this to be undertaken either:
- by a panel; or
- by an independent person with specific skills, expertise or knowledge relevant to the grievance; or
- by seeking an independent investigator to provide a report on factual findings, which is provided to a panel to determine whether the grievance is substantiated.
Once the Registrar has determined the method for investigation, and the panel membership/investigator the relevant parties will be advised of the process and expected timeframe.
An investigation panel will consist of members with expertise in the relevant area:
- an independent Chair (internal or external to the University)
- a senior staff member of the University (Where the complainant is a Higher Degree Research student, and the complaint is research related, this panel member may be a member of Research Degrees Committee.)
- a nominee of the Vice-Chancellor, (the Vice-Chancellor will consult with the QUT Student Guild before making the nomination).
A nominee of the Registrar will act as secretary.
The complainant and/or the respondent may elect to be supported by a person of their choice who could be a representative of the QUT Student Guild or of the relevant staff union. This person must not be a practising lawyer.
The panel/investigator will establish procedures in accordance with the rules of natural justice, and advise the parties of the procedures to be adopted. This may include:
- interviewing (or taking written statements from) the complainant, respondent, and other relevant parties including those who handled the grievance at earlier levels
- reviewing all relevant documents
- considering the grievance in the context of QUT policy and procedures
- seeking advice from any person deemed appropriate; and
- giving the complainant and the respondent an opportunity to respond to all relevant information gathered.
The panel/ investigator will advise the Registrar of the findings and recommended actions based on all relevant circumstances. The Registrar will advise the appropriate senior officer of any accepted recommendations arising from the investigation. The Registrar will advise the complainant and relevant parties of the outcome.
A copy of the panel/investigator’s report will be provided to the Student Ombudsman by the Registrar. Where appropriate, or where any underlying systemic issues are identified, the Student Ombudsman, may make recommendations for further action to the Registrar. Actions recommended by the Student Ombudsman and accepted by the Registrar must be implemented as soon as practicable by the relevant operational area, or a rationale provided for not accepting the actions recommended.
Applying to external agencies
A complainant remaining dissatisfied by the University’s management of the grievance may apply to external agencies, such as the Queensland Ombudsman, for an external review. QUT will fully cooperate with external agencies investigating any such grievance. However, QUT is committed at all times to facilitating the resolution of grievances without the need to have recourse to external agencies.
If a complainant, while participating in these procedures, chooses to involve an external agency then:
- the Student Ombudsman must be notified in writing, and
- the Registrar, in consultation with the Student Ombudsman, will determine whether or not internal proceedings will cease. In the event of cessation of proceedings before a resolution is achieved, all decisions and agreements arising from these procedures will cease to be implemented and all records will be annotated accordingly.
Full details on how to lodge a grievance can be found here http://www.mopp.qut.edu.au/E/E_09_02.jsp