Concerns, Complaints and Grievances

Concerns, Complaints and Grievances

If you are in immediate danger or this is an emergency, don’t file a complaint with the University right now. You should call Security on 0800 823 637 or dial 111 instead.

If you would like to lodge a concern, complaint, or grievance with the University, the UCSA Advocacy & Welfare team is here to help.

Please note: the UCSA Advocacy & Welfare team is not able to assist you make a complaint about another student, as we are here to advise and assist all students, and cannot take sides in student-to-student conflict. If you wish to raise a concern about the behaviour of another student, then please speak with UC Student Care.

Please read carefully: There are two different ways you can let the University know about any problems or concerns you have experienced or observed at UC:

  • Through Report It tool or
  • Through UC Concerns.

Please read this page for information about them.

If you are not sure what to do, please contact us here and we can support you.

How can the UCSA Student Advocates help?

The UCSA Student Advocates can help you understand the University’s complaint process, including the range of possible outcomes.


The UCSA Student Advocates can review your draft written submission and provide feedback.

What are the differences between Concerns, Complaints and Grievances?

A concern is an expression of worry about something that has happened. A person raising a concern is usually a witness and may have no direct personal involvement in the concern they are raising.


A complaint refers to any accusation, allegation, or charge. A complaint is usually lodged by the person who has direct involvement in the incident that has led to the complaint. It can be more informal, and a complaint should occur before a grievance is filed.


A grievance is a formal written complaint that there has been a violation, misinterpretation, misapplication, discriminatory application or unreasonable application of an official University regulation, policy, procedure, or code.

What are the types of situations where I can raise a concern or lodge a complaint?

As a student, you can raise a concern or lodge a complaint about any of the following situations:

  • Treatment by the University or its staff;
  • Financial or contractual issues with the University;
  • The quality of delivery of a service, including a course or programme, provided by the University;
  • A student’s wellbeing or safety, including issues of racism, discrimination, bullying, physical and/or sexual violence;
  • The actions or conduct of a University staff member or student;
  • Breach of privacy;
  • Issues around intellectual property; or
  • Health and safety.

You may wish to lodge a complaint in order for the following to happen:

  • Have your concerns heard and/or investigated;
  • Receive an apology or acknowledge of wrongdoing;
  • Have a decision made or an action taken;
  • Have your complaint recorded by the University; or
  • Improve existing UC services and/or processes.

If you would like to file a complaint as a UC staff member (e.g., the incident occurred in your capacity as a Teaching Assistant of the University), then you should contact Community Law Canterbury and/or Tertiary Education Union.


The types of complaints that cannot be dealt with by the University are:

  • Criminal matters – you may want to consider reporting such incidents to the NZ Police;
  • Study loan, student allowance or student loan repayments – you will need to contact StudyLink for complaints about these issues.

There are also situations where something can be done through the University’s systems, but where a complaint is not the right approach.


For example, if you wish to complain about an academic decision that adversely affected you, you should follow the Appeals process. Click here if you want to know more about Appeals. You can also contact the UCSA Student Advocates here and we can assist you.

Is there a way to raise a complaint completely anonymously?

Yes, completely anonymous complaints can be lodged via the Report It Tool. Information about the Report It tool can be found here.


Some important things to note about Report it are:

  • Concerns raised through Report It are completely anonymous. The reporting tool used to run Report It is built in such a way that there is completely no record of who made the complaint
  • This does mean that it is difficult for the University to investigate and respond to concerns reported using this tool, and as a result, there is unlikely to be a formal investigation of the concern
  • The primary purpose of Report It is to identify and investigate trends in concerning things that happen on campus, rather than to deal with specific individual situations; and
  • If a specific individual is named as being involved in an incident reported to Report It, the University may need to present that report to the named individual for response.

When submitting an anonymous complaint through Report It, it is important to provide as much detail as possible, to ensure that the Report It team can properly understand what has taken place. If you can provide a name of the person involved that would be helpful, though please note that the University may need to provide that person an opportunity to respond.


If you wish to simply raise a concern through Report It, the UCSA Student Advocates will be happy to look over what you write before you submit it. Please contact us here and we can assist you.


Alternatively, you can always raise a concern through one of the other avenues discussed below, and request that you be kept anonymous. This may or many not be possible depending on the nature of the situation and the complaint.

What other ways can I have my concerns/complaint resolved by the University?

Informal complaint

Where appropriate and if you feel safe to do so, you can try to resolve your concerns or complaint informally by first raising it with the relevant UC staff member or service area, or with the relevant Head of Department/School if you do not feel comfortable approaching the individual directly. You can do this on your own or with the UCSA Student Advocate’s support.


You can make an informal complaint either in person or via email. To do so, you will need to:

  • Tell the person what the issue is;
  • Ask them to stop or to behave differently; and
  • Where appropriate, keep a written record of the interaction. This is easier to achieve through email communications.

If the matter cannot be resolved informally or if you do not feel safe going through an informal resolution, you can consider lodging a formal complaint.

Formal complaint

A formal complaint should be made in writing to the UC Grievance and Academic Processes Coordinator via email to


Please note that you will be identified to the person / service unit you may wish to complain about to allow them to respond to the allegations you make against them.

Can a UCSA Student Advocate help me with my complaint?

Yes. The UCSA Student Advocates can help you by identifying the best course of action for your particular situation.


The advocates can also provide you with a letter template. In addition, the Student Advocate can review your draft written submission or email and provide feedback before you submit it, and assist you to identify and compile relevant evidence. Please allow 1-2 working days for the Student Advocates to provide feedback. Please contact us here to arrange this.

What happens after I submit my formal complaint?

The University will provide you with written acknowledgement of receipt of your complaint within 2 working days after you submit your complaint.


The Grievance and Academic Processes Advisor will process your complaint and direct it to the relevant UC staff member (called The Responsible Officer) to determine what the next course of action will be.


The Grievance and Academic Processes Advisor will inform you of the outcome of your complaint within 30 working days if possible. If the investigation needs to take longer than 30 working days, the Grievance and Academic Processes Advisor will:

  • Advise you of the reasons for the delay and of the projected timeframe for the delay, and when you can expect the investigation to be concluded;
  • Update you on the progress of the complaint every ten (10) working days.

Appealing the outcome


If you disagree with the outcome of the investigation of your complaint, you are entitled to appeal the decision and /or any outcomes. The letter informing you of the decision will inform you of how to appeal the decision.


You have a right to seek leave (permission) to appeal to the Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic.


You need to apply for leave to appeal within 10 working days of receiving the notification of the decision you want to appeal.


Please note, leave to appeal will only be granted if:

  • There has been a breach of process in relation to the decision; and/or
  • You have new evidence or information that was not available to you at the time of the decision; and/or
  • The decision was manifestly unjust. A decision is considered manifestly unjust if it is clearly and obviously unjust, e.g., the decision is out of proportion to the reasons why the decision was made.

You need to specify in your application to seek leave to appeal how one of the above requirements have been met.


If you need help with the process, please contact us here and we can support you.

Are there any ways to make a complaint outside of the University’s own systems?

In general, it is best to try and raise your concerns within the University’s systems in the first instance. If you attempt to raise a concern through an external body, they will likely refer you back to the University’s own systems first if you have not yet made your complaint that way.


If you believe that the University’s complaints process has been conducted incorrectly or that the outcome is unreasonable though, you have the right to raise the matter for external and independent review with: