Student Welfare and Grievance Policy and Procedure

Student Welfare and Grievance Policy and Procedure

PURPOSE

The purpose of this document is to outline avenues available for students to seek guidance and resolution on academic and non-academic issues, to make appeals and to lodge grievances. This document aims to provide a general framework for addressing student issues; it does not attempt to catalogue specifics of any departmental procedures, which are determined by each area in accordance with the general principles outlined in this policy.

SCOPE

This policy applies to all ACK staff and to all students enrolled in programs offered by Schools of Engineering and Business, including English Language Program.

POLICY STATEMENT

  • ACK is committed to providing academic and welfare support, information and guidance to its students in an effort to help them achieve their potential and improve their experience in the College.
  • All students at ACK are encouraged to raise issues and complaints with full confidence that appropriate actions will be duly undertaken to address and resolve issues and complaints raised.

Academic Matters

  • The College appoints Academic Advisors to provide students advice, guidance and academic support with regards to matters related to enrollment, academic progress or educational outcomes. ACK registered students should contact their Academic Advisors with all academic inquiries, including inquiries related to the following:
    • Course Selection and Schedule Planning.
    • Academic Plans and Progression.
    • Academic Policies and Procedures.
    • Dropping Units or Withdrawing from ACK.
    • Deferral of Studies.
    • Changing Majors.
    • Academic Complaints.
    • Assessment Appeals.
    • Mentoring and Career Planning.
  • Students should always discuss any academic inquiries with their designated Academic Advisors first. Academic Advisors may decide to refer complex cases to the relevant Dean to the Vice President – Academic Affairs for resolution. All referrals should be made using a Student Referral Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.04). Students may not submit a Student Referral Form after a decision has been made on their appeal.
    Student inquiries that do not fall under the remit of Academic Advisors are referred to the Student Affairs Department.
  • For further information, please refer to the Academic Advisor Policy and Procedure (ACK.PLR.VPAC.41).

Non-Academic Matters

  • The Student Affairs Department supports students in their social and cultural development, and provides resources to address matters of student welfare. To this end, the Department deals with matters related to the following:
    • Student Clubs, Organizations and Campus Events: Through a variety of student clubs, organizations and campus events the Student Affairs Department provides opportunities for the students to connect with the College and with each other.
    • Excused Absences: All applications for excused absences should be made to the Student Affairs Department in accordance with the terms of the Student Attendance Policy (ACK.PL.VPAC.01). The College reserves the right to not grant excused absences.
    • Accommodations for students with disabilities: Student Affairs administers disability accommodation under the terms of Students with Disabilities Policy and Procedure (ACK.PLR.SA.02) to provide a supportive learning environment for students with disabilities. It is the individual student's responsibility to identify him/herself as a person with a disability and to provide the College with required diagnostic documentation within the time frames set by the policy.
    • Matters related to the Student Code of Conduct (ACK.PLR.SA.01): ACK expects the highest standards of conduct from all its students. Students are required to observe College regulations while on campus or attending College-related events outside of campus. Students are responsible to inform themselves of and abide by all ACK policies and procedures, which are available on the ACK Student Portal. When in doubt about interpretation or applicability of a regulation, students can seek clarification from the Student Affairs Department.
    • Non- Academic Complaints: Student Affairs Department serves as liaison between administrative personnel, faculty and students in resolving issues relating to non-academic matters. Students whose issues remain unsettled following informal channels of resolution can lodge an official complaint with the Student Services Department Officers following steps explained in section 7 of this document. Students should not contact anyone beyond the Student Services Department Officers for their non-academic complaints.
    • Student Orientation Programs: Student Affairs organizes orientation programs for new and existing students to inform them about College rules and regulations, campus resources and support services.
    • Inquiries from parents: Student Affairs Department serves as the contact point for ACK parents. Parents should not contact Head of Departments, Academic Advisors or any member of executive management directly without making prior appointment via the Student Affairs Department.
  • Students should always discuss any non-academic inquiries with the Student Service Department Officers first. Student Service Department Officers may decide to refer complex cases to the Student Affairs- Senior Manager and the Student Affairs- Senior Manager to the Vice President – Academic Affairs for resolution. All referrals should be made using a Student Referral Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.04). Students may not submit a Student Referral Form after a decision has been made on their appeal.
  • Student academic inquiries that do not fall under the remit of Student Services Department are referred to the Academic Advisors.

Student Complaints

  • ACK recognizes that from time to time students may raise complaints about matters or issues relating to their experiences at ACK. The College has existing mechanisms in place to ensure that these are addressed in a fair, consistent and timely manner across College and are monitored/analysed to improve quality of education and services offered.
  • ACK believes complaints should be resolved with a minimum of formal procedures and as close to the source as possible. Students should follow the appropriate procedures detailed in the Section 7 of this document.
  • Academic Complaints: Academic Complaints are complaints related to the provision of educational services. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Faculty related complaints comprising of allegations of inappropriate behaviour or unfair treatment by faculty, allegations of inadequate teaching, allegations of improper academic advice, allegations of faculty not following appropriate College policies and procedures
    • Dissatisfaction on any other aspect of the educational process that affects student enrollment and performance, including dissatisfaction with the College academic policies and procedures, with course registration systems and the lack of/quality of learning resources.
  • Non- Academic Complaints: Non-academic complaints include, but are not limited to:
    • Issues with peers and non-academic staff, including allegations of inappropriate behaviour or allegations of non-compliance with College policies and procedures.
    • Dissatisfaction about the lack of/ quality of campus facilities, including sports facilities, IT facilities and parking.
  • All complaints are handled with an appropriate level of confidentiality and due diligence. Information is only released to those who need it in order to investigate or respond to a complaint.
  • Where a complaint is of a personal nature against a staff member, the complainant’s identity may need to be revealed to the staff member concerned in order to have a fair investigation.
  • In case of collective complaints, each student under the complaint is required to complete a separate form providing their individual details. The College does not action forms signed by more than one student.
  • No students are penalized for making a complaint in good faith. Students whose allegations are eventually found to be malicious or without foundation will be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct (ACK.PLR.SA.01).
  • ACK will make best efforts to resolve complaints as promptly as possible and keep students informed with the outcome in writing. Students who do not respect the College’s grievance procedures outlined in this document, who disrupt college operations and/or exhibit disorderly behaviour seeking resolution for their complaint, will be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct (ACK.PLR.SA.01).

Appeals

  • ACK attempts to resolve all appeals as close to the source as possible. Appeals in the first instance should be discussed informally with the instructor/staff involved. If no resolution is reached a formal appeal can be made in accordance with terms of the policy appropriate to the subject of appeal.
  • Appeals against accommodations offered for students with disabilities or appeals against decisions taken under this policy should be submitted directly to the Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs in writing (Please note this does not include reviews of Assessment Appeals decisions). In such cases, the Vice President – Academic Affairs will meet all necessary parties required to make a determination. The decision of the Vice President – Academic Affairs will be final.

CONTROL OF PROCESS

Procedure for Academic Complaints related to Faculty

  • Informal Resolution:
    • Students should make every effort to resolve their faculty related issues with the staff directly concerned. The faculty should try to provide satisfactory solutions as promptly as possible to prevent unnecessary escalation. If one-to-one discussion does not resolve the issue satisfactorily, the faculty may choose to involve the Academic Advisors, their Head of Department or Dean of School (if applicable) for resolution. It is expected that very few complaints would remain unresolved after this stage.
  • Formal Resolution:
    • Students whose complaints remain unresolved after discussion with the faculty or students who do not feel comfortable discussing their issues with the faculty concerned can lodge a written complaint with their Academic Advisors using Academic Complaint Form. (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.01). All complaints must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than within 15 working days of the occurrence of the alleged incident or 5 working days after the informal resolution processes have been exhausted.
    • Students whose complaints are concerned with their Academic Advisors can lodge a written complaint directly with their Deans of Schools by completing the Student Concern Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.06).
    • The Dean of School (or Head of Department in case of English) will have ten (10) days to resolve the complaint in accordance with the internal procedures for his/her respective area, which cannot be in contradiction with this over-arching Student Welfare and Grievance Policy and Procedure. It is at the discretion of the Dean of School (or Head of Department in case of English) to address the issue through administrative decision in conjunction with Line Manager of the faculty directly concerned or to refer the case to a grievance committee to be formed in their respective division.
    • The outcome of the complaint is documented in the designated section of the Academic Complaint form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.01) and communicated to the student.

Procedure for Academic complaints not specific to faculty

  • All complaints related to the educational process in the College that are not related to a specific faculty, can be filed with the Academic Advisors using the same Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.01). All complaints must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than within 15 working days of the occurrence of the alleged incident or 5 working days after the informal resolution processes have been exhausted.
  • The Academic Advisor will have ten (10) business days to resolve the complaints in liaison with relevant parties in accordance with the internal procedures for his/her respective area, which cannot be in contradiction with this over-arching Student Welfare and Grievance Policy and Procedure. In circumstances where the issue cannot be resolved by the Academic Advisor, the Academic Advisor can choose to escalate the case to Dean of School.
  • The outcome of the complaint is documented in the designated section of the Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.01) and communicated to the student.

Procedure for Non- Academic Complaints

  • Informal Resolution:
    • ACK believes non-academic complaints should be resolved wherever possible at the local level with a minimum of formal procedures. Students should make every effort to resolve their issues with the parties directly concerned. It is expected that very few complaints would remain unresolved after this stage.
  • Formal Resolution:
    • Students whose complaints remain unresolved after informal procedures or students who do not feel comfortable discussing their issues with parties concerned can lodge a written complaint with their Student Service Center using Non-Academic Complaint Form. (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02). All complaints must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than within 15 working days of the occurrence of the alleged incident or 5 working days after the informal resolution processes have been exhausted.
    • The Student Services Department Officer will ensure that Non-Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02) is properly filled in English and signed. The Complaint form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02) should provide a detailed background on the case and make reference to the specific policy/procedure that was unfair or misapplied if applicable.
    • If the complaint is in relation to a non-academic staff member, the Student Services Department Officer will refer the case to the director/head of the department of the staff member involved for resolution. The director/head of department will have ten (10) business days to resolve the complaint in accordance with the internal procedures for his/her respective area, which cannot be in contradiction with this over-arching Policy and to inform the Student Services Department. It is at the discretion of the director/head of department to address the issue through administrative decision in conjunction with the Line Manager of the staff directly concerned or refer to the matter to a grievance committee to be formed in their respective division. The outcome of the complaint need to be documented in the designated section of the Non-Academic Complaint form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02).
    • Complaints related to the Student Service Department need to be submitted to the Senior Manager of Student Affairs and complaints related to the Senior Manager of Student Affairs will need to be submitted to the Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs.
    • If the complaint is not related to a staff member, the Student Services Department Officers will have ten (10) business days to resolve the case in accordance with the internal procedures for the Student Services Department. The Student Services Department Officer can escalate complex cases to Senior Manager Student Affairs. It is at the discretion of the Senior Manager to address the issue through administrative decision or to refer the case to a grievance committee.
    • The outcome of the complaint is documented in the designated section of the Non-Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02) and communicated to the student.
  • ACK Quality Assurance processes require that all student complaints and their outcomes are logged and recorded for monitoring purposes and to identify opportunities to improve standards of education and services offered in the College. Accordingly, all complaints need to be electronically logged onto the Student Complaint Log including all details as required per the associated template (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.03), kept up-to-date by each Department or School as agreed internally Student Complaint logs are monitored monthly by Senior Manager of Teaching and Learning Centre. An analysis report is completed each semester and provided to the Vice President – Academic Affairs and the President.

Procedure for Student Appointments with the Vice President – Academic Affairs

  • All students who wish to meet the Vice President – Academic Affairs must provide a Student Referral Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.04) signed by the Vice President – Academic Affairs or the Student Affairs Senior Manager as applicable. Students may not submit a Student Referral Form after a decision has been made on their appeal.
  • Requests to meet the Vice President – Academic Affairs are not granted automatically. The Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs will require supporting documentation and evidence in advance before a meeting request is granted. The Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs may refuse meeting requests related to certain matters where students have not attended mandatory meetings with Academic Advisors or other applicable persons; been given the correct advice and/or proper procedures have been followed.
  • The Academic Administration Officer - Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs shall book an appointment for the student that falls within 5 business days after the receipt of the completed form and inform the student of the time/date of his/her appointment with the Vice President – Academic Affairs.
  • If the Vice President – Academic Affairs is on holiday or on leave, the deputy person shall meet with the concerned student on the Vice President – Academic Affairs behalf.
  • All Appeal processes shall be finalized within five (5) working days from meeting with the Vice President – Academic Affairs.

TERMS AND DEFINITIONS

  • Complaint: Is a student’s expression that his/her rights, interests and/or expectations have been unfavourably and wrongly impacted by a decision, action or lack of action taken by ACK. A complaint can be academic or non-academic. Routine requests for information or explanation on College policies and procedures and suggestions for improvement are not considered to be complaints. The terms “complaints” and “grievances” are used interchangeably in the document.
  • Appeal: Is a request to review a decision or outcome.
  • Line Manager: Is the direct manager of an employee per ACK’s organizational structure.

ATTACHMENTS

  • Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.01)
  • Non- Academic Complaint Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.02)
  • Student Complaint Log (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.03) – System generated
  • Student Referral Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.04)
  • Appeal Request Form Office of the Vice President – Academic Affairs (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.05)
  • Student Concern Form (ACK.FO.VPAC.13.06)
  • Workflow for Addressing Complaints Involving Faculty (ACK.FC. VPAC.13.01)
  • Workflow for Addressing Academic Complaints Not Specific Faculty (ACK.FC.VPAC.13.02)
  • Workflow for Addressing Complaints in relation to a Non-Academic Staff Member (ACK.FC.VPAC.13.03)
  • Workflow for Addressing Non- Academic Complaints Not Specific to Staff Member (ACK.FC.VPAC.13.04)

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