Complaints and appeals | University of Oxford
Complaints and appeals
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Complaints and appeals

Introduction

Complaints or appeals relating to Undergraduate Admissions decisions are initially dealt with by the relevant college or department (for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences), and are then subject to review by the central University. The process of complaining or appealing is therefore in two parts:

(1) College or Department Stage

You should first take your complaint or appeal to:
a) the Departmental Admissions Coordinator for applicants for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; or
b) for all other courses, the Tutor for Admissions at the college whose decision you are appealing, or which you are complaining about;
(the “Decision-Maker”)

(2) University Review Stage

If you are dissatisfied with the formal decision of your college or department (the “Initial Decision”), you can ask the Director of Undergraduate Admissions to review that decision. The Director of Undergraduate Admissions is a representative of the University, rather than any individual college, and will not have been previously involved in the matter.

The procedure for seeking a review by the University (a “Review”) is set out in the various tabs of this webpage.

Other Procedures

The following types of complaints or appeals have separate procedures:

Advice

For informal advice about the Review process, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions office at uaoadminteam@admin.ox.ac.uk. It is strongly recommended that you also discuss your concerns with a teacher or family member who will be able to support and assist you.

General Principles

1. Reviews will be dealt with confidentially by all parties involved, except where it is necessary to disclose information to carry out a fair investigation (e.g. your identity will usually be disclosed to the College or Department whose decision is being reviewed and to anyone who is the subject of your complaint or whose decision is being appealed).

2. All parties involved in a Review are required to act reasonably and fairly towards each other and to respect the University’s procedures.

3. If the subject matter of a Review falls across more than one University procedure, the University will deal with the matter as flexibly, fairly and proportionately as possible.

4. There is no right of review over matters of academic judgment.

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

6. All Reviews will be dealt with promptly. Any time-critical factors set out in the Review Request Form will be taken into account.

7. Time limits should usually be met by all parties. Time limits may only be extended by the Director of Undergraduate Admissions where it is necessary to do so in order to ensure a fair outcome.

8. Review requests which are anonymous or made by third parties will only be considered in exceptional circumstances where there are compelling reasons to do so.

9. The Director of Undergraduate Admissions may decline to conduct a Review where the matters in dispute are currently being considered or have been decided by an external body (such as a court or tribunal).

10. No one carrying out a Review should have any conflict of interest in the matter.

11. If the Director of Undergraduate Admissions is conflicted, or otherwise unable to determine the matter, an appropriate substitute will be appointed, who will usually be the Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

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

Making a complaint

1. If after receiving a response to your initial enquiry you wish to make a complaint about any aspect of your experience of the undergraduate admissions procedure, you should put your concerns in writing as soon as possible to the Tutor for Admissions at the college to which you applied or to which you were reassigned. If the complaint relates to another college, you should address it to the Tutor for Admissions there.

2. Because of the 'college-blind' applications procedure operating for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, a complaint related to an application for a place on either of those courses should be addressed in the first instance to the Admissions Coordinator for the appropriate programme.

3. Please note that an admissions decision will not normally be reviewed unless it appears that a substantial procedural error has occurred. You are asked to specify in your letter to the Tutor for Admissions what you believe the error (or errors) to have been.

4. The Oxford colleges are committed to good practice in admissions and to ensuring that they adhere to the Common Framework for Undergraduate Admissions. The Tutor for Admissions will investigate the complaint with appropriate colleagues in the college. You will receive a preliminary reply normally within ten working days of the receipt of your complaint, and, where relevant, this will indicate when you may expect to be contacted again with more information.

5. If the Tutor for Admissions concludes that no substantial procedural error was made, you will be told. Where it appears, after investigation of the complaint, that a procedural error has occurred, consideration will be given to what steps should be taken, including any steps to prevent similar errors occurring in future.

6. Complaints made more than four months after the occurrence will not normally be considered.

Review Procedure

1. If you are dissatisfied with an Initial Decision you may request a Review by the Director of Undergraduate Admissions on one or more of the following grounds:

a. there was a procedural irregularity or error in the Decision-Maker’s investigation;
b. the Decision-Maker’s decision was unreasonable (you must identify which aspects of the Decision-Maker’s decision you consider to be objectively unreasonable and explain why); or
c. you were not provided with clear reasons for the Decision-Maker’s decision.

2. You should submit an Admissions Review Request Form to the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at uaoadminteam@admin.ox.ac.uk or at the Undergraduate Admissions Office, Wellington Square OX1 2JD within 28 calendar days of the date of the Initial Decision. Exceptionally, the Director for Undergraduate Admissions may consider a Review request made in another format where it is fair to do so.

3. The Director for Undergraduate Admissions will usually reach a decision and send you a decision letter within 20 working days of receiving your Admissions Review Request Form. The decision letter will set out the Director for Undergraduate Admissions’ decision, including the reasons for the decision and any directions and/or recommendations.

4. The decision letter is the end of the University’s procedures.

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