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​​Complaints Handling



Edinburgh Napier University has always been committed to attempting to resolve any matters of concern our services users have via a fair, efficient and transparent process. The University will look to resolve any issues informally in the first instance and as quickly as is possible.


The information on this page is aimed at providing staff with an overview of how students and other individuals can make complaints, what to do when you receive a complaint (via the link to the guidance document for staff handling complaints), how you as a member of staff can make a complaint and more.

Changes to the Complaints Handling Procedure from 1st September 2020 

Edinburgh Napier University, like all Scottish Public Sector Organisations, must use an adaptation of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s (SPSO) Model Complaints Handling Procedure for the handling, recording and reporting of all complaints we receive. Organisations cannot make changes to the procedure; any changes can only be made by SPSO. SPSO have recently introduced an updated procedure. All organisations must adopt a version of the SPSO’s updated procedure by 31 March 2021. Edinburgh Napier University adopted the new procedure effective from 1st September 2020 and full detail of this and the changes it brings are detailed in this document. All procedural documents can be found by clicking here. Should there be any queries in relation to this please email complaints@napier.ac.uk in the first instance. The University has not had full editorial control over any of the documents as the length, detail and overwhelming majority of the text is set by SPSO and cannot be changed by the organisations and institutions required to adopt the procedure.   

Options for informal resolution 

For students:

Where our students are concerned, we urge them to make us aware of any problems they are encountering or issues they have with any University process as soon as they arise. The sooner we are made aware of any issue the chances of an effective resolution being implemented, the prevention of the issue getting worse and the prevention of any new issues developing are all increased. 

Before making a complaint, we ask that students consider the following sources of support and feedback mechanisms when a problem is first identified and encourage our staff to also offer this advice to students:

  1. Discuss the matter with the member of staff concerned.
  2. If option 1 is not favoured/possible, discuss with Programme Leader or Personal Development Tutor to see if they can assist with a resolution.
  3. Raise any issues with the Class Representative who can in turn raise through the Staff-Student Liaison Committee and Programme Board of Studies processes.
  4. Make contact with a member of the Edinburgh Napier University Students’ Association’s advice team –  ENSA Advice. Advice provided by this service is independent of the University and ENSA Advice staff can assist and advise on a number of issues.
  5. Contact the University’s Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Manager (ACCM) for advice by contacting  complaints@napier.ac.uk in the first instance. Full detail on our Complaints Handling Procedure can be found by clicking here​. It is presented in four parts. Those wishing to make a complaint are welcome to read all four parts but for a quick overview of the process, it is recommended that the document entitled Procedural Guidance is consulted. 

For non-students e.g. applicants, parents of students, other campus users, external stakeholders:

For non-students who, with the exception of the Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Manager, do not have recourse to the above services to assist them with any issues they have with the University, issues raised will generally have to be considered via the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) straight away. The procedure is presented in four parts. Those wishing to make a complaint are welcome to read all four parts but for a quick overview of the process, it is recommended that the document entitled Procedural Guidance is consulted.

Making a complaint – How our students and other service users can do this 

We recognise that not all issues can be resolved informally and where an attempt to resolve a matter informally has not resulted in a satisfactory resolution or a matter is deemed too serious to go through any informal resolution, the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP) documents can be used. Those wishing to make a complaint are welcome to read all four parts and the supporting guidance document in full but for a quick overview of the process, it is recommended that the guidance document is used.

The CHP is open to any user of University services with the exception of members of staff complaining about employment related issues which should be channelled via their line manager in the first instance. The CHP is designed to ensure that any issues are investigated as thoroughly as possible before providing the final response/offer of resolution.\

Universities and Colleges across Scotland are required by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to use an adaptation of their Complaints Handling Procedure. 

Revisions to the procedure will be managed by the Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) on behalf of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. Further information can be found in the Higher Education Guide to Implementation

This page contains information on the Edinburgh Napier University adaptation and how staff are expected to use it if they are in receipt of a complaint. 

Links to useful documents providing information on how to make a complaint, the procedure document and supplementary guides:

We recommend anyone making a complaint first reads our Privacy Notice​.

Training for Staff 

There is online training available in relation to Stage 1 (Frontline Resolution) of the procedure which all staff who may have to deal with complaints are encouraged to undertake. This is provided by the SPSO in the form of training modules covering the essentials of the Model Complaints Handling Procedure. All staff are strongly encouraged to complete this training. The training is best accessed using Internet Explorer as your browser as this best supports the training package. The University has a number of trained Investigators who will investigate complaints at Stage 2 (Investigation). These individuals are senior staff who have undertaken appropriate training.

Reporting Requirements

All complaints received must be recorded by the area concerned.

Each School/Service has a member(s) of staff who act as Departmental Complaints Contact (DCC). All staff should make themselves aware who their contact is and of the local process for recording complaints. If you remain uncertain as to who this is in your area, please raise this with your line manager or the Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Manager. 

All complaints must be logged on this Record of Complaint spreadsheet.

The Departmental Complaints Contact (DDC) will be responsible for providing the Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Manager (ACCM) with a copy of the completed spread sheet on a quarterly basis as follows:

  • December - covering the period 1st September to 30th November
  • March - covering the period 1st December to 28th (29th) February
  • June - covering the period 1st March to 31st May
  • September - covering the period 1st June - 31st August

The ACCM will advise the DCC in advance of the precise dates completed quarterly complaints logs are required to be submitted and they will in turn ask their colleagues to report all complaints received for the quarter to them.

The ACCM will issue updates on complaints to relevant University committees and will continue, as is current practice, to use the information received to produce an annual report. Privacy of individuals will be respected in line with Data Protection legislation.

In line with the requirements of the Complaints Handling Procedure a quarterly report is produced for the University’s senior management and reported to University Leadership Team by the ACCO as follows:

  • January – covering reporting quarter 1; period 1 September to 30 November inclusive
  • April - covering reporting quarter 2; period 1 December to 28/29 February inclusive
  • July - covering reporting quarter 3; period 1 March to 31 May inclusive
  • October - covering reporting quarter 4; period 1 June to 31 August inclusive

Internal annual reporting on complaints is done as part of the annual report on Appeals, Complaints and Conduct which is presented to University committees including Academic Board and Court.

We also, in line with a requirement of the CHP, publish brief statistical annual report on our external website. Reports are located here.

Information and support for anyone making a complaint to you 

Please direct individuals to Richard Bews, Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Manager (ACCM):

Email: R.Bews@napier.ac.uk or complaints@napier.ac.uk 

Telephone: 0131 455 2396

Contact is preferable via email in the first instance in order to arrange a suitable appointment time but short notice consultations and telephone appointments may be available, though cannot be guaranteed.

In addition to the ACCM, you may also wish to direct students to a member of University Academic or Administrative staff such as their Programme Leader, Year Tutor, Personal Development Tutor (PDT) or a member of School Office administration staff.

All students have the right of access to the services provided by Edinburgh Napier Students' Association (ENSA) representative or member of staff from ENSA Advice

To guarantee they will get to see someone and to avoid a wasted journey, contact via email or telephone is advisable in the first instance to determine a suitable appointment time.

Drop in appointments may be available though no guarantee can be made that they will be able to see someone straight away, or even on the day, on a "drop in" basis.

Those who are not matriculated students may wish to seek support from the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance or Citizens Advice Scotland.  

Information and support for staff on anything complaints related 

For details of support for staff who are handling complaints, making complaints or are the subject of a complaint please refer to the document Complaints – Support for Staff.

Dealing with a complaint made anonymously/protecting a complainant’s anonymity 

Our CHP states that we will consider complaints submitted anonymously if there is enough information in the complaint to enable us to make further enquiries. If, however, an anonymous complaint does not provide enough information to enable us to take further action, we may decide not to pursue it further. However, the University may give consideration to the issues raised, and will record the complaint so that corrective action can be taken as appropriate.

Any decision not to pursue an anonymous complaint must be authorised by the University Secretary or his/her nominee. If an anonymous complaint contains serious allegations, it should be referred to the Dean of the School/ Director of Service concerned immediately for consultation with the University Secretary.

On rare occasions we may withhold the name of a person making a complaint during either stage of the CHP but this will only be done in exceptional circumstances with the recognition that withholding names may mean that it is not possible to investigate/pass judgement on the complaint.

Members of staff wishing to make a complaint 

Members of staff looking to make a complaint should refer to this document Guidance for Staff Making Complaints which explains how staff can go about making complaints on a range of matters including employment related complaints, complaints about colleagues and complaints about students and other campus users.

Reporting Verbal or Physical Abuse 

All users of our campuses should be able to do so without fear of or being subject to any form of verbal or physical abuse. The documents for staff and for students explain how to report abuse and how any reports made will be handled.

Unacceptable Actions Policy 

The University believes that complainants have a right to be heard, understood and respected. Occasionally, the behaviour of individuals using our Complaints Procedure may make it very difficult for us to deal with their complaint. In a very small number of cases, the behaviour becomes unacceptable because it involves abuse of our staff or our processes. When this happens we have to take action to protect our staff. We consider the impact of the behaviour on our ability to do our work and provide a service to others. The University's Unacceptable Actions Policy​ explains how we will approach these situations.

Page last updated 28 August 2020