How to Submit a Complaint About the Strikes (Including Compensation)
If your School feels that they are unable to provide a suitable mitigation for an element of your course impacted by the strikes, then they may initially offer financial compensation.
However, on some occasions your School may say that the mitigations in place are acceptable even if you disagree, and your next option will be to challenge this via submitting a formal complaint.
It is important that you are aware of all mitigations put in place for your course before making a complaint, you can check what these by asking your Course Officer.
Until the strikes have finished you will not be clear on their entire impact and therefore submitting a complaint beforehand will likely be ineffective.
In the meantime, we advise that you keep a short note of each time Industrial Action has affected your studies. This could be on a piece of paper, in your phone, or in our disruption diary which you can download here.
You should record:
What was affected (e.g. seminar, lecture, revision session, supervision session, personal tutoring etc.)
A short note of any concerns you have about how this could affect your studies (e.g. material might arise on an exam, or in coursework, learning needed for professional placement)
If the disruption has cost you in some way then keep evidence of this. This could be travel costs, or a paid notetaker from your DSA, for example.
How City has communicated updates on the strikes, think about response times and if information has presented clearly.
Raising An Informal Complaint (Stage 1)
This is known as Stage 1 of the Complaints Policy. You can find more information about the Complaints Policy here.
This should normally be done within 3 months of becoming aware of the issue you wish to complain about. This can be the last event in a chain of events and is not necessarily the first issue to arise. Some students previously chose to submit their Industrial Action Complaint after receiving their final results, as they felt it was only then they could have known the full impact of the strikes on their studies. In that instance the 3 months would start from that point.
This complaint should be written to your Programme Director and can take the form of an email. You should include:
An introduction to your concerns.
Your list of missed sessions and other information as per the record you kept.
How you feel your studies have been affected.
Concerns about whether your assessments have been, or will be, affected. List the assessments and explain what has happened. For example, were deadlines not postponed or extended sufficiently?
Was any feedback not provided on time or yet to be provided?
Were you not able to meet or contact supervisors?
If there is any teaching or content set out in the course prospectus that will no longer be delivered you may wish to express your dissatisfaction at not receiving this if it was a significant factor in choosing your programme.
If you are not happy with your department’s attempt to mitigate the impact on your studies you could also mention this and explain why you think the steps they have taken are not enough.
Refer to any evidence such as emails received from your department about cancellations of lessons or changes that have had to be made due to the strike action.
If you have any other evidence that relates to the impact or inconveniences caused you should mention that: these may or may not include:
not feeling comfortable about crossing the picket lines and the impact on your mental health.
Late cancellation of teaching after travelling to university and incurring travel costs/inconvenience incurred attending university only to be informed classes were missing?
Poor communication from City regarding mitigations.
Outcomes (What You Want To Happen)
You should clearly outline what you believe the School can do to resolve this issue.
You need to be realistic about what City can do. For example, some classes may be rescheduled later in the year or delivered in other formats. This could be through additional guided reading or recordings of previously delivered classes. Your assessments may also have topics removed that were missed due to the strikes. Asking for your grades to be automatically boosted is unlikely to happen as City will not award students marks they have not initially been earned. Also challenging assessment grades are to be done via City’s Appeals process rather than a Complaint.
The University will consider any requests for refunds of tuition fees because of the impact of the industrial action. However, you will need to clearly demonstrate why the School’s initial response is not satisfactory and/or the ongoing detriment to your studies.
Most students do not study at higher education providers purely to gain a qualification. Other things are important to them too, such as attending lectures and seminars led by academics.
If a considerable amount of teaching time has been cancelled and:
The learning outcomes modules are not or cannot be delivered in full
Key elements of the Programme as promised before you started the course are not delivered
Key elements of the course, or modules are not delivered to expected standards
Then you may wish to request compensation:
When requesting financial compensation you need to be very clear on why you feel this is justified. A good starting point could be to work out from the fees paid for the term, how much you may have paid for the module(s) affected etc. You could then factor in any measures taken by your department to reduce the impact before deciding what amount you consider to be appropriate compensation. You may also wish to consider if you have evidence of any unexpected additional costs incurred directly as a result from the circumstances of the strike action and/or the measures taken by the university to reduce the impact.
For any amount you request, you should consider then reducing this number by 50%; this is to take into account that higher education providers have to provide and maintain buildings, IT and library facilities, wellbeing and other student support and administration. This is the approach taken by the OIA when awarding compensation/fee refunds for industrial action. Therefore, even if you lost out on 25% of teaching for example you may not necessarily receive 25% of your tuition fees in financial compensation.
If you are unsure about calculating an amount of compensation to request for, don’t worry, you can just mention that you would like to be refunded for what you have missed, and City will do the calculations for you.
Don’t forget to attach any supporting evidence you have to your email.
If you want advice on your draft then we are happy to provide this. You would need to complete our Case Form at this page and send a copy of the draft to email@example.com.
Strike complaints are usually best submitted as group complaints. If you have had lectures cancelled or your studies have been affected in some other way, you are unlikely to be the only one in your cohort to be affected. may know other students in your cohort who feel the same as you, and also want to submit a complaint. It makes more sense for a group of students to submit one complaint on the same issue rather than several students submitting multiple complaints, as a strong complaint can take quite a bit of effort to put together.
If submitting a complaint as a group, you can’t just say it is on behalf of your entire module or course. You will need every person wishing to complain to individually give consent to be listed, a word document with all student names who have consented will suffice.
If a group wishes to receive advice on the complaint, they should nominate 1 or 2 lead complainants who will receive advice and report to the group. You could speak to your Programme Rep or another individual and see whether they would like to be the lead complainant. They can then submit a complaint on behalf of other impacted students who have given permission to be involved. It will be the lead complainant that then liaises with City on complaint outcomes and who can access advice from the SU on behalf of the group.
If you do strongly feel you have been impacted on a more personal level you can still be part of a group complaint, however we advise you also submit a complaint based on your individual circumstances. For example, if you had paid for a disability tutor who was then no longer needed due to strikes, this would be considered more appropriate to be raised as an individual complaint as this would not have impacted other students in the same way.
Raising A Formal Complaint (Stage 2)
If it has not been possible to reach an acceptable informal resolution during Stage 1, it is possible to begin a more formal process.
This allows for further and more structured investigation and is described under Stage 2 of the Student Complaints Regulation.
In order for a complaint to be considered at Stage 2, you would need to complete the Student Complaints Form (SCF).
This complaint form should be submitted within 21 days from the outcome of Stage 1.
Filling in the form:
Section 1 – Details. This is self-explanatory complete list all your details. You will also have the opportunity if submitting a group complaint to provide a list of all students in support of the complaint who will also receive a copy of the outcome.
Section 2 – Complaint summary. You can submit your complaint as an individual or as a group complaint. If you are complaining on behalf of your cohort or programme you need to make clear it is a group complaint. When summarising your complaint, you only need a brief description making clear that you are complaining about the impact of industrial action. You will also get to attach your initial Stage 1 correspondence.
If there are any other aspects of your student experience that have been affected due to the strikes you would also briefly mention this here too.
Keep it brief as you will provide more details in Section 3.
Section 3 - Previous Actions – You should briefly summarise what you have done so far to try and resolve this complaint and why you are not happy with City’s response. This includes any informal efforts, as well as your Stage 1 complaint.
Section 4 - Your Preferred Outcome - This is where you ask for exactly what you want. You should consider:
You can reiterate the outcomes listed in Stage 1, however new outcomes may be added as a result of how Stage 1 was handled. For example, if there have been delays in City’s communication you may decide to increase the amount of compensation you are asking for.
What Happens Next?
You will receive acknowledgement of your Complaint within 14 days of submission. A Responsible Person will be nominated to investigate the Complaint and hopefully an outcome should be given in less than 3 months. Strike complaints can be quite complicated to investigate sometimes so if your School needs longer they should communicate any delays to you.
If after receiving the Stage 2 outcome you are still dissatisfied you can escalate your case by submitting a Stage 3 Review Complaint. More guidance on this process can be found here but we would advise at that stage you contact us for more tailored advice.
Strikes can be distressing but rest assured your SU has experience in supporting students through these difficult times. Our Advice Service has advised many students on escalating their complaint to the OIA after they have exhausted all of City’s internal procedures. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) are the independent students’ complaints scheme for England and Wales. Check out their past case studies here.