Complaints and academic appeals

Approach to complaints and academic appeals

If you have cause for concern, then often initially discussing it with us informally will lead to a satisfactory resolution.

However, if you remain dissatisfied, then other procedures are available to you. These are set out on the University Complaints and academic appeals web page, and explain which procedure you should follow, and whom to contact. (These will depend on the type of issue, and on which part of the University is involved—department, library, admissions office, college, and so on.)

All student complaints and academic appeals are managed under these procedures, and there is further guidance below about specific arrangements for Continuing Education students.

Making a complaint

See also the University web pages Complaints and academic appeals and University Student Complaints Procedure.

Which process to use, and whom to contact

  • Complaints about departmental facilities (other than libraries), or teaching and supervision can be raised initially with the Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) for informal resolution (see “1. How to resolve a complaint informally” below).
  • Complaints about the behaviour of a member of staff in the University, or a case of a conflict of interest should be raised with the Director under the University Harassment Policy.
  • Complaints about any other matters are dealt with under University Complaints and academic appeals and related web pages.

1. How to resolve a complaint informally ("First Stage")

This section assumes that OUDCE has been identified as the ‘local’ body for informal resolution of a complaint under University Complaints and academic appeals procedures.

a) You should first seek to resolve your concern or complaint informally with your course director,  tutor or administrator; in the interests of resolving the issue, they may need to refer to other staff.

b) If this does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, you should set out in writing to the OUDCE Casework Panel ( the nature and grounds of your complaint, the steps already taken in seeking redress, and the remedy which is being sought. Your complaint will be acknowledged when received. It will be dealt with as quickly as is consonant with a thorough investigation of the matter, and normally within not more than thirty working days of receipt.

c) If deciding to uphold the complaint, the Panel may, as appropriate, close the issue with a letter of apology and/or some other form of redress.

d) If deciding not to uphold the complaint, the Panel will respond to you in writing setting out the reasons for its decision.


2. How to register a formal complaint (“Second Stage”)

If you are not content with the outcome of the informal stage (or “First Stage”) above, you may raise your complaint with the Proctors under the University Student Complaints Procedure. Please note the limitations of what may be considered under this procedure, and see also

How we deal with feedback and complaints

  • We hope and intend that cause for complaints will be infrequent. We are committed to maintaining an effective system for managing and reviewing concerns raised, and for resolving them swiftly. We aim to make clear to students how matters should be raised, and how they can expect matters to be treated.
  • We encourage general areas of concern about provision affecting students as a whole to be raised through student feedback channels, such as questionnaires, discussions with course leaders, student representatives, and course committees. This does not preclude concerns being raised through the University Student Complaints Procedure, however, including those raised on behalf of a group of students.
  • Complaints will be dealt with confidentially by all parties involved, except where it is necessary to disclose information to carry out a fair investigation (so, for example, student X’s identity will usually need to be disclosed to person Y if student X’s complaint involves person Y).

Academic appeals

See also the University web page Academic appeals for full details

When you can raise an academic appeal

An academic appeal is an appeal against the decision of an academic body (e.g. boards of examiners, transfer and confirmation decisions etc.) in terms of whether the procedures were followed properly, errors were made or the process was biased in some way. There is no right of appeal over matters of academic judgement – i.e. decisions that can only be made by applying an academic expert opinion. Therefore a student cannot appeal because they disagree with the examiners’ assessment of how well they met the assessment criteria.

How to make an academic appeal

The full University procedure is described under Academic appeals.

Specific arrangements for Continuing Education students

If you are dissatisfied with a decision relating to the award of credit, a mark, or a grade, you should set out your case in writing to the OUDCE Casework Panel ( You should not contact the marker or Course Director, because students are not permitted to discuss marks with Examiners.

  • The “First stage: local resolution” referred to in the University Academic appeals web page will be conducted by OUDCE for courses whose students do not have an Oxford college.
  • Only concerns relating to finalized assessment may be escalated to the ‘Second stage: formal appeal’ of the appeal procedure.


Revised February 2023