Complaints and appeals | University of Oxford
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Complaints and appeals

This procedure covers Graduate Admissions complaints and appeals which are not covered by the separate procedures listed below. Any applicant for a graduate course at the University of Oxford may use this procedure.

Definitions

Admissions appeals

An admissions appeal is an appeal of an academic decision which is made during the admissions process (eg a decision rejecting your application or imposing certain conditions). An admissions appeal can only be made on one or more of the following grounds, which you must identify on your Graduate Admissions Complaints and Appeal Form:

  • there was an error in the decision-making process or a procedural irregularity;
  • there was any bias or perception of bias in the decision-making process; and/or
  • you have been subsequently diagnosed with a disability which, if known at the time of the decision, would have required reasonable adjustments which could have been material to the decision-making process.

Admissions complaints

An admissions complaint is a complaint about any other issue arising during the admissions process. 

There is no right of appeal or complaint over matters of academic judgement.

Separate procedures

The following types of complaints or appeals have separate procedures:

Informal advice

For informal advice about the Graduate Admissions complaints and appeals procedure, please email graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk with the subject line 'Complaints procedure'.

General principles

Information about your complaint or appeal will only be shared with other parties where disclosure is necessary in order to ensure a fair investigation (eg your identity will usually be disclosed to a person or body who is the subject of your complaint or whose decision is being appealed).

All parties involved in a complaint or appeal are required to act reasonably, fairly and courteously towards each other and to respect the University’s procedures.

If a complaint or appeal falls across more than one University procedure, the University will deal with the matter as flexibly, fairly and proportionately as possible.

Anyone involved in a complaint or appeal may act through a representative who should usually be a member of the University or a family member (for applicants), or a trade union officer (for members of staff).

Time limits should usually be met by all parties. Time limits may be extended by the relevant decision-maker where it is necessary to do so in order to ensure a fair outcome. Any time-critical factors set out in the Graduate Admissions Complaints and Appeals Form will be taken into account as far as possible.

Complaints and appeals which are anonymous or made by third parties will only be considered in exceptional circumstances where there are compelling reasons to do so. 

The University may decline to consider a complaint or appeal where the matters in dispute are currently being considered or have been decided by an external body, such as a court or tribunal.

If the Director of Graduate Admissions is conflicted, or is otherwise unable to determine the matter, an appropriate substitute will be appointed who will usually be the Senior Graduate Admissions Manager. The person determining the complaint or appeal shall not have any conflict of interest in the matter.

A reference to the Director of Graduate Admissions means the Director of Graduate Admissions or an appointed substitute. 

First stage: Local informal resolution

Complaints or appeals concerned with your departmental admission

Before raising an admissions complaint or appeal concerned with your departmental admission, you should seek to explore your concerns and, if possible, resolve the matter locally with the department by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies for the course you have applied to.

Contact details for the department are available on the relevant course page.

Complaints or appeals concerned with your college admission

Before raising an admissions complaint or appeal concerned with your college admission, you should seek to explore your concerns and, if possible, resolve the matter locally with the college by contacting the Tutor for Graduates or Senior Tutor for the course you have applied to.

Contact details for the college are available on the relevant college page.

Second stage: Formal consideration by the
Director of Graduate Admissions

Submitting your appeal or complaint

If, after local consultation, you continue to have concerns, you can submit your complaint or appeal for investigation by the Director of Graduate Admissions. 

You should complete and submit a Graduate Admissions Complaint and Appeal Form:

The form should be submitted by email to director.graduateadmissions@admin.ox.ac.uk or by post to:

Director of Graduate Admissions 
Graduate Admissions 
University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD, UK

Exceptionally, the Director of Graduate Admissions may consider a complaint or appeal that is made in another format where it is fair to do so.

You should submit your Graduate Admissions Complaint and Appeal Form as soon as possible and at the latest within 28 calendar days of (a) for complaints, when the matters you are complaining about occurred, or (b) for appeals, the date you were notified of the relevant admissions decision. 

You will be asked for evidence that you have tried to address the matter locally under the first stage and the Director of Graduate Admissions may decline to consider your complaint or appeal if you have not done so. 

Reviewing your appeal or complaint

The Director of Graduate Admissions will confirm receipt of your Graduate Admissions Complaint and Appeal Form within five working days. 

The Director of Graduate Admissions may decline to consider your complaint or appeal if it is trivial or repeats a complaint or appeal that has already been made. 

For all other complaints or appeals, the Director of Graduate Admissions may take any steps which are considered necessary to investigate, including calling on any person to provide specialist assistance. The Director of Graduate Admissions will usually send details of the matter to anyone who is a subject of the complaint (for admissions complaints) or the original decision-maker(s) (for admissions appeals). 

If you withdraw your complaint or appeal at any time the Director of Graduate Admissions may decide to continue the investigation if it is appropriate and fair to do so.

Responding to your appeal or complaint

The Director of Graduate Admissions will usually complete the investigation, make a decision and send you a decision letter within 20 working days of acknowledgement of the Graduate Admissions Complaint and Appeal Form. If the time limit needs to be extended, the Director of Graduate Admissions will keep you updated about the progress of the investigation.

In the decision letter, the Director of Graduate Admissions will explain what steps have been taken, the reasons for the decision and any directions and/or recommendations. 

The decision letter is the end of the University’s procedures and will set out other sources of advice and support available to you.

The Director of Graduate Admissions will also notify the outcome to anyone who is a subject of the complaint (for admissions complaints) or the original decision-maker(s) (for admissions appeals) and any University bodies that need to be made aware of it.