Student Grievance Policy

Reference Code: SPL0009 Classification: Student Services
Approved Date
01 Dec 2017
Date Effective
01 Dec 2017
Review Date
20 June 2020
Approved By
Academic Board

Definitions

Bullying Repeated unfair or unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group that belittles, scares, intimidates, or offends, to the extent that it could put someone's health, safety, or welfare at risk, including their psychological or emotional health. All violent behaviour which is not self-defence is regarded as unacceptable.
Complainant, Appellant or Grievant The person making a complaint or submitting an appeal or a grievance.
Complaint or Grievance A clear statement expressing dissatisfaction with an act, decision, or omission which a person considers to be unjust, wrongful, unfair, or discriminatory and within the control of the Institute.
Discrimination Treating someone unfairly or differently because of their sex, pregnancy, race, disability, sexual preference, religion, carer's responsibilities, marital status, social origin, political belief, employee association activity, irrelevant criminal record, or age. Direct discrimination is treating someone unfairly compared to someone else in the same or similar circumstances because of their sex, race, disability, etc. Indirect discrimination is treating someone the same as everyone else, but where the result of doing so unreasonably disadvantages substantially more people of that person's sex, race, disability, etc.
Harassment Unwelcome behaviour that makes a person feel belittled, intimidated, offended, or apprehensive and that a reasonable person, taking into account all the circumstances, would expect to cause offence, intimidation, or apprehension.
Respondent The person against whom a complaint, appeal or grievance is brought. 
Staff Member   Any employee, visiting appointee, or member of a committee of the Nan Tien Institute.
Student Any person currently enrolled with Nan Tien Institute as a student.
Mediator A person appointed by the CEO as a mediator to help the parties to consider all possible solutions and reach a joint agreement.

 

Scope

1. Purpose

1.1  Nan Tien Institute is committed to providing a safe, harmonious, supportive, and productive environment for its students free from unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, vilification, bullying and conflict. The Institute has a duty of care to students to resolve grievances promptly and with the minimum of distress. The Institute has a legal responsibility to resolve equity-related grievances alleging unlawful behaviour, such as sexual harassment, matters covered by anti-discrimination laws and assault.

1.2  The emphasis is on resolving problems as close as possible to the source and directing complaints to the most appropriate resolution mechanism for a specific grievance.

1.3  This policy and procedures do not remove the right of students to take action under Australia's consumer protection laws (including the ESOS Act 2000) nor do they replace or modify procedures or any other responsibilities which may arise under other higher education provider policies or under statute or any other law.

2. Scope

2.1  This policy applies to all students and persons seeking to enrol at the Nan Tien Institute who have a grievance about unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, vilification and/or bullying. In particular, all students of the Institute, or those seeking to enrol in a course of study with the Institute, are entitled to access the grievance procedures set out in this policy regardless of the location of the campus of the Institute at which the grievance has arisen, the student's place of residence, or the mode in which they study.

2.2  The policy covers both academic and non-academic matters. Academic matters include grievances that relate to student progress, assessment, curriculum, and awards and apply to students in a course of study. Non-academic matters include complaints in relation to personal information held by the Institute in relation to the person and administrative matters and apply both to students and people seeking to enrol in courses. The policy does not cover:

  • Occupational health and safety, or
  • Use of information technology.

Policy Statement

3. Principles of Grievance Resolution

The prime objective of the Grievance Policy is to achieve a resolution of a grievance in accordance with the following principles:

3.1  Grievances will be handled within an appropriate timeframe and will be treated sensitively and impartially, having due regard for procedural fairness;

3.2  Resolution of the grievance will be as close as possible to the source, unless it is serious, unlawful, or not practical;

3.2  It is expected that all parties involved will approach proceedings with a desire to resolve the grievance constructively and in good faith;

3.4  Individuals will not victimise or harass other parties in the matter;

3.5  Confidentiality will be strictly observed by all participants and at all stages of the grievance procedure,and 

3.6  Complainants and respondents will be informed of the outcomes.

Possible outcomes from the grievance policy where a complaint is upheld, include personal apology, written undertaking or apology, written agreements on future behaviours or actions, remedial action (for example, correction of records, improved practices), new internal procedures or guidelines, and conciliation/mediation under guidance of a mutually accepted third party (internal or external).

4. Principles of Procedural Fairness and Natural Justice

4.1  All parties to a complaint must know all the allegations affecting them and have a full opportunity to respond

4.2  All relevant submissions and evidence must be considered

4.3  Matters not relevant will not be considered

4.4  Persons who make the complaints may not determine the outcome

4.5  Decision makers must be disinterested and unbiased

4.6  Decisions must be based upon evidence

4.7  Anonymous complaints will not be considered.

4.8  Where it can be demonstrated that there is a conflict of interest or the potential for a perceived conflict of interest, a grievance investigator should immediately request that the matter is referred to an alternative investigator. The complainant or respondent may request an alternative investigator.

5. Representation

5.1  Each complainant has an opportunity to formally present his or her case at minimal or no cost to himself or herself

5.2  Each party may be accompanied and assisted by a support person at any relevant meetings

5.3  No party shall have legal representation at meetings convened under these procedures.

 

Systems and Procedures

6. Procedures

Who may bring a grievance?

Any student or person seeking to enrol at Nan Tien Institute may bring a grievance about an action or a decision relating to study or work at Nan Tien Institute and falling within the scope of this policy. The policy provides three stages to address grievances:

a) informal procedure,

b) formal procedure and

c) external review.

The first two stages are free of charge. There may be a cost attached to an external review as explained further below.

7. Withdrawal of Grievance 

A complainant may, at any time in the process, declare that the grievance is withdrawn. Such a declaration must be in writing, even in the informal stage, to protect all parties. It is not necessary for a complainant to provide any reason for the withdrawal of a grievance.

8. Time frames

8.1  There is no prescribed time within which a complaint may be lodged, but for complaints made more than one month after the specified event, the Dean or designated person will exercise discretion in permitting the complaint to be made through the Institute's processes.

8.2  The following are planned times for consideration of grievances:

8.2.1   Ten (10) working days is the planned time allowed for each stage in the resolution of grievances, complaints or appeals.

8.2.2   If an extension of time is provided all parties must be informed and a time frame negotiated, with the final decision to be made by the Dean or designated person.

8.2.3   Former students must register complaints within two months of leaving the Institute.

9. Documentation

9.1  Each complaint, grievance, or appeal, and its outcome, are recorded in writing through a process determined by the Dean or designated person.

9.2  Due care is taken about accurate documentation, dates, times, and outcomes.

9.3  All documents are kept confidential and are accessible only to the parties to the complaint and persons authorised by the Dean or designated person or through legislation.

9.4  Records of grievances and their outcomes are filed separately (not kept in the student file) and stored in confidential files in the Dean's Office for a period of at least 5 years.

9.5  Each complainant and respondent will be given a written statement of outcomes, including reasons for a decision.

10. Informal procedure

10.1  When a problem or issue arises, students are encouraged to seek information, advice, and resolution from an appropriate staff member e.g. their tutor, lecturer, Head of Program, supervisor, or a management staff member. Those who are unsure how to proceed may seek assistance and advice from any staff member.

10.2  Where a student is dissatisfied with the assessment of an assignment and/or an examination result the student must approach the relevant Subject Coordinator or teacher in the first instance and as soon as possible to discuss and/or request a review of that assessment.

10.3  When actions taken during the informal stage have not resolved a grievance, but the complainant chooses not to proceed to a formal complaint within 10 working days of that decision, the grievance is deemed to be withdrawn.

10.4  Staff members dealing with an informal complaint will ensure that they:

10.4.1   Listen and understand the nature of the complaint.

10.4.2   Explore all the options and possible implications for resolving the issue with the complainant.

10.4.3   Avoid behaviour that might be misinterpreted.

10.4.4   Look for a resolution. The issue may be resolved at the local level with the least amount of disruption for all parties.

10.4.5   Produce a written record for the CEO or designated person for record in a manner to be decided by the CEO or his/her representative.

10.4.6   The outcomes and reasons will be given to the complainant and respondent in writing by the reporting officer, through the CEO or designated person.

11. Formal procedure

11.1  If the informal process does not resolve the grievance, a formal complaint is the next step. Students or persons seeking to enrol may make a formal complaint in writing addressed to the CEO or designated person who will be an independent and impartial senior officer to the person who handled the complaint in the initial informal procedure. The contact details for the designated person for academic and non-academic appeals are:

  • For English Language students, the Principal Administrator, English Language Centre, Nan Tien Institute; Telephone (02) 4272 0648, Email info@nantien.edu.au
  • For all other students, the Dean, Nan Tien Institute; Telephone: (02) 4258 0733  Email: info@nantien.edu.au.

11.2  Complainants who are unsure how to proceed may seek assistance and advice from any staff member. The formal process includes the following steps:

11.2.1   Complainants lodge formal written complaints with the CEO or designated person.

11.2.2   Complainants outline the incident/issue in writing or agree that notes taken are accurate.

11.2 3   The desired outcomes requested by the complainant are noted.

11.2.4   The formal grievance, appeal, or complaint is entered in a Complaints Register.

11.3  If a written complaint has not been received within 10 working days after initial notification by a complainant, the grievance shall be deemed to be withdrawn and all affected parties involved up to that point in the investigation will be advised in writing written to that effect. The CEO or designated person may appoint a committee to make final decisions based on all the evidence, with this committee to be the final point of appeal within the Institute, or appoint a mediator to try to resolve the matter. In any process, complainants and respondents have the following rights:

11.3.1   To be present or make a written presentation to anybody convened to hear the complaint.

11.3.2   To be accompanied by any person chosen by them at anybody convened to hear the complaint.

11.3.3   To receive and respond to any documentation, as appropriate, that is submitted in connection with a complaint.

11.3.4   To have a complaint treated confidentially with details only disclosed with permission unless the Institute has reasonable grounds for believing the use of the information will be a threat to the life or health of any person, or the use is authorised by law.

11.3.5   A copy of outcomes and reasons will be given to the complainant and respondent in writing by the reporting body, through the CEO or designated person.

11.4  The Committee appointed to consider the matter shall determine its own procedures in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The Committee may conduct hearings, authorise investigations, and seek written or oral submissions from people it believes can assist in its deliberations by way of evidence or expert opinion.

12. External review procedures

There are a number of avenues that may be followed by any person who believes that a complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved within the Institute. Any person is entitled to take a matter outside the Institute. The Institute will advise persons bringing a complaint of their right to access the external appeals process and of any costs associated with that process. Only one external appeal is allowed under this policy.

If a student complainant chooses to access the complaints and appeals processes in accordance with this policy, the Institute will maintain the student's enrolment while the complaints and appeals process is ongoing. If the appeal is lodged by an international student against a deferment, suspension, or cancellation decision, the Institute may not wait for external appeals to be concluded before reporting the decision to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC),

If the internal or any external complaint handling or appeal process results in a decision that supports the complainant, the Institute will immediately implement any decision and/or corrective and preventative action required, and advise the complainant and respondent of the outcome.

External agencies may include:

External Agency Web Contact Details Phone
Overseas Student Ombudsman http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/contact 1300 362 072
Fair Trading, New South Wales  https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/contact-us 13 32 20
Australian Human Rights Commissioner https://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/contact-us 1300 656 419
Privacy Commissioner https://www.oaic.gov.au/about-us/contact-us 1300 363 992
13. Enrolment Status of the Student during the Appeals Process

13.1  Until the complaints and appeals process is completed, the student will continue to be enrolled in Nan Tien Institute. There will be no notification to the Department of Education or the Department of Immigration of any change to the student’s enrolment status until the resolution of the internal complaints and appeals process.

13.2  During the complaints and appeals process Nan Tien Institute has the right to exclude a student from attending classes and visiting the Institute, but provide work to complete outside the class environment. This will ensure the student is not disadvantaged should the appeals process be in the student’s favour and they return to class.

13.3  If the complaint is about a decision on misconduct, then Nan Tien Institute may notify the Department of Immigration of any change in the student’s enrolment on the release of an outcome from the internal appeals process. If the complaint is about an academic matter and if the complaints and appeals process is taken to an external agency, the student will continue to be enrolled with Nan Tien Institute until the completion of the external process.

13.4  Once the Department of Education or the Department of Immigration has been notified of a deferment, suspension or cancellation of a student’s enrolment, the student has 28 days to either leave Australia; show DIAC a new Confirmation of Enrolment; or provide DIAC with evidence that an external appeals process has been accessed.

Version Date Approved Date Effective Approved By Amendment
1 21 Jun 2011 21 Jun 2011 Academic Board
2 12 Apr 2013 12 Apr 2013 Academic Board
3 28 Feb 2014 28 Feb 2014 Academic Board
4 18 Mar 2014 18 Mar 2014 Board of Directors
5 01 Dec 2017 01 Dec 2017 Academic Board