e-mail: info@northsydneycollege.com.au Phone: + 61 2 8263 1200

Policy

The College is committed to handling any student complaints or appeals in a fair and timely manner.

All genuine complaints will be taken seriously. The relevant circumstances and information surrounding a complaint will be investigated to the level warranted by the severity of the complaint. Where anonymity has been requested, the need to protect the complainant’s identity may impact on the level of the investigation.

In considering the application of the essential element of “access” to complaints management, the College will take into account the requirements of relevant State and Commonwealth legislation including the:

  • Disability Services Act 1993 (NSW State);
  • Anti Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW State);
  • Human Rights Commission Act 1981 (Commonwealth);
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth); and
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth).

Definitions

The College uses the following definitions in relation to complaints and appeals:

complaint can be about any matter other than the result of an assessment including examples such as:

  • any aspect of the service provided, or not provided,
  • the behaviour or decisions of staff, or
  • practices, policies or procedures.

An Appeal is a complaint that relates to a decision regarding unsatisfactory attendance, course progress or cancellation of enrolment

An Assessment Appeal relates to the result of a student assessment activity (Refer to Assessment Policy and Procedure for details of how these are managed)

Who can make a complaint?

Any person can make a complaint, including a student, any employee or contractor in any campus or location where the organisation’s services are provided.

How can a complaint be made?

A complaint can be made orally or in writing. Oral complaints that cannot be resolved informally will need to be put in writing and help will be provided if needed by the person receiving the complaint. Complainant’s may have a support person present when making the complaint and at any related meeting. It is preferable but not essential that the complainant’s name and signature are included in the complaint. Students should be aware that, in some instances, a complaint can not proceed if it is anonymous or if you request that your identity be withheld. A complaint can be made in any form. However there is a Complaint & Appeals Form available at the front office/reception area of each campus and also on the website for the convenience of students. There are no associated fees. Student Services Officers (SSO) will inform students about the complaints and appeals processes during the orientation program. Academic Manager need to advise the parties involved about these guidelines and provide information on how to access the guidelines.

Note: ELT Students can also use a Compliments, Complaints and Appeals form, providing a simpler version of the form for those experiencing difficulty with English.

Who receives a complaint?

Any employee including Marketing Managers can receive a complaint. If a marketing manager receives a complaint from a student, the complaint is passed onto the Academic Manager & the student is advised that this is what the marketing manager will do with their complaint and that the Academic Manager will be in touch with them in  maximum within 5 working days.  In general, the complaint should be made where the problem occurred unless there are concerns about the Management (Academic Manager, Trainer Assessors or department managers), in which case the complaint should be made to the next supervisory level (Principal Executive Officer).A person making a complaint will have expectations as to how the complaint will handled and may require assistance in making the complaint. To manage complainant expectations, the recipient of the complaint should:

  • explain the complaint handling process to the complainant
  • if the matter is to be referred, explain why and to whom
  • confirm with them that their complaint has been fully understood and ask them what outcome they are seeking
  • outline the possible outcomes, including whether or not the outcome being sought is reasonable
  • provide realistic timeframes for dealing with the matter
  • ensure that any promises made are followed through.

All college campuses have student services officers located at reception, which allows complaints to be recorded and forwarded to the appropriate staff member for action.

What should be done when a complaint & appeal is received?

An employee who receives a complaint will need to determine, applying these guidelines, whether it is a matter that can be resolved informally or whether it should be referred to  Academic Manager. Minor complaints should be resolved informally if possible and without delay. The complaints and appeals process commences within 10 working days of the formal lodgement of the complaint or appeal and supporting information, and all reasonable measures will be taken to finalise the process as soon as practicable. Each complainant (or appellant) is given a written statement of the outcome, including details of the reasons for the outcome. The form entitled ‘Complaint Resolution Form” will be used for this purpose. While all internal complaints and appeals are in process, the college will maintain the enrolment of the student. However, if the appeal is against the college’s decision to report the student for unsatisfactory attendance or unsatisfactory course progress the college will maintain the student’s enrolment (i.e. not report the student for unsatisfactory progress or attendance) until the external complaints process is complete and has supported the college decision not to report If the complaint & appeal is against the college’s decision to defer or suspend a student’s enrolment due to misbehaviour or to cancel the student’s enrolment, the college only needs to await the outcome of the internal appeals process before notifying via PRISMS of the change to the student’s enrolment.

External Complaints or Appeals

If complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint or appeal at the end of the internal process, complainant may wish the matter be dealt with through an external dispute resolution process facilitated by the Ombudsman. www.oso.gov.au, overseas.students@ombudsman.gov.au . ph: 1300 362 072

Responsiveness

Complaints should be dealt with promptly, courteously and in accordance with their urgency. The college should set timeframes for the resolution of complaints and publicise these timeframes in all documentation relating to the complaints process. However, it is expected that an acknowledgement letter or phone call to indicate receipt of a written complaint will be sent/made within a maximum of 5 working days and include information on the investigation process and direct contact information. Complaints should be resolved in a maximum of 10 working days where possible. The response provided to complainants should include information regarding

  • information relevant to the complaint;
  • adequate reasons for any decisions made;
  • any changes that have resulted from the complaint;
  • an apology where appropriate;
  • information on where to seek an independent review; and
  • an acknowledgement of thanks to the complainant for their feedback.

If it is not possible to resolve a complaint within this timeframe, complainants should be notified of any delay either in writing or over the telephone. It is possible due to complexity of the complaint & appeal, to take longer than 5-10 days.  in this case the candidates will be advised and specifically if the process will take longer than 60 days to resolve.  Formal written notification explaining why such time frame is needed will be sent to all those involved in the complaint & appeal and advised the progress of the process.

Data Collection
A systematic record of complaints and their outcomes is maintained to enable the college to monitor the progress of complaints and identify repetitive complaints. The college should ensure that enough detail is captured to allow an appropriate level of analysis. Records of all complaints will be retained for a period of 5 years with restricted access where possible for reasons of confidentiality. The college will keep on file records of complaints that are made at Level 2, 499 Kent St, Sydney.

Systemic and recurring problems
Systemic problems are defined as being “caused by failures in the course structure, delivery and assessment systems or organisational policies or procedures”. Complaints will be classified or categorised so that systemic and recurring problems can be identified and rectified. Even where anonymous complaints are received, the information can inform systemic problems if not individual redress. Analysis of appropriately classified complaints in relation to the severity and frequency of the problem will form the basis for effective risk assessment and service improvement.

Accountability
The College reports on the operation of their complaint management process against performance indicators in their reporting for the overall college activities..  At a minimum, information about complaints management reports should include:

  • number of complaints received;
  • amount of time taken to resolve the complaints; and
  • service improvements made as a result of the complaints received.

Continuous Improvement
It is a requirement that the complaint handling process be reviewed regularly to ensure efficient delivery of effective outcomes. It is expected that RTO’s should be reviewing their complaints processes at least once every year.

The Outcome of a Complaint
It is not always possible to ensure that a complainant is satisfied with the outcome of a complaint. The college is bound by policy and legislative requirements which means that it will not always be possible to give the complainant the outcome they are looking for. In many cases, the best that the college can do is to ensure that the process of resolving a complaint meets all of the components of the Standards, even if the complainant is not happy with the outcome.

To ensure that those people who wish to make a complaint do not develop false hopes and are better informed about what to expect upon making a complaint, a person making a complaint can expect to:

1  have complaints treated as genuine and properly investigated;

2  be given appropriate and easily understood information regarding the complaints process; and

3  participate in decisions relating to the resolution of their complaint.

The college will:

  • Provide sufficient resources to ensure all complaints are adequately managed and investigated;
  • Make the complainant aware of the progress towards the resolution of their complaint; and
  • Do its best to assist in a resolution that is to the satisfaction of all parties, within the bounds of legislative and policy requirements.

Vexatious Complainants

It may sometimes be difficult to determine when to declare someone who makes frequent and frivolous complaints a “vexatious” complainant. It is acknowledged that the time devoted to vexatious complaints can result in an inappropriate use of college resources. Vexatious proceedings can be defined as an abuse of the process of the internal complaints and appeals process’s) instituted to harass or annoy, to cause delay or detriment, or for any other wrongful purpose’s) instituted or pursued without reasonable ground; or) conducted in a manner so as to harass or annoy, cause delay or detriment, or achieve any other wrongful purpose. It should be kept in mind that it is necessary to recognise the right of people to instigate a complaint about a service they have received. This right should not be unnecessarily or inappropriately curtailed. It is highly recommended that staff who are responsible for resolving complaints discuss the possibility of determining that a person is a vexatious complainant with their Academic Manager and where appropriate the Group Welfare Counsellor prior to making the decision to cease dealing with the complainant.

Privacy Statement

The college is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 and/or state privacy legislation. In either case, exemptions to information sharing exist, particularly in case of emergencies or law enforcement activities. Circumstances in which personal information about a student may be shared between the Australian Government.

  • about the student: full name, gender, date and country of birth and nationality; and once the student has established an address in Australia, the student’s residential address
  • about the course: the CRICOS course code, agreed starting date and if the student didn’t begin the course when expected; the expected completion date, and any termination of the student’s enrolment prior to the expected completion date; and any change to the identity or duration of the course
  • about course money: the amount of money the provider has received prior to issuing a CoE, and an estimate of the total amount the student will be required to pay to undertake the full course
  • about English language proficiency: whether the student has undertaken a test to determine his or her level of understanding of English, the name of the test and the score the student received for the test
  • about the student’s visa: the Immigration office where the application for a student visa was made or is expected to be made; and if the student holds a student visa, the number of the visa; and once studying in Australia, the student’s local Immigration office
  • about the student’s passport: if the student was in Australia when he or she became an accepted student, the student’s passport number
  • about any breaches of student visa conditions relating to attendance or satisfactory academic performance.

What is this information used for?

The information may be shared between the Australian Government and designated authorities.

  • promoting compliance with the ESOS Act and the National Code;
  • assisting with the regulation of providers;
  • promoting compliance with the conditions of a particular student visa or visas, or of student visas generally; or
  • facilitating the monitoring and control of immigration.

Procedure

Complaints

  1. The Student Services Officer, located at reception during normal office hours between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m, provides access to and assists complainants in completing the formal Complaints and Appeals form during normal office hours between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Note: If the complaint relates to concerning student services the student can address their grievance directly to the Academic Manager).
  2. The SSO acknowledges receipt of the complaint in writing.
  3. The SSO records all complaints in the Complaints and Appeals registry and forwards the related form to the Academic Manager for processing and feedback within 10 working days.
  4. If the complaint  is not resolved at the operational level the Academic Manager refers it onto the Principal Executive Officer.
  5. The resolution of the complaint is documented on a Complaint resolution form and provided to the complainant for sign off as acknowledgment.
  6. The College aims to resolve all complaints within 10 working days of receipt. If it is anticipated that a complaint will take more than 60 days to resolve the complainant will be informed of the reasons in writing and be provided with regular written updates on the progress of the matter.
  7. If complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint or appeal at the end of the internal process, complainant may wish the matter be dealt with through an external dispute resolution process facilitated by the Ombudsman. www.oso.gov.auoverseas.students@ombudsman.gov.au    .ph: 1300 362 072
  8. Complaints and appeals forms are stapled to the Complaint resolution form and securely filed in the student admin file.

Assessment Appeals

  1. If a student is not happy with any aspect of the assessment process they should discuss this with the assessor as soon as is practicable.
  2. If not satisfied, they can lodge an appeal by completing a Complaints and Appeals form available from the Student Services Officer (SSO), located at reception during normal office hours between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  3. The SSO will acknowledge receipt of the appeal in writing.
  4. The SSO records all appeals in the Complaints and Appeals registry and forwards the related form to the Academic Manager for processing and feedback within 10 working days.
  5. Following consultation with the Assessor involved, the Academic Manager will take one of the following courses of action:

– Request further evidence to enable a decision to be made

– Uphold the original assessment decision

– Organise for review of the original assessment by a second assessor

– Organise for the student to be reassessed by another assessor

– Revise the assessment decision

  1. The student will be provided with a written decision on their appeal within two weeks of the appeal being lodged.
  2. If the student is unsuccessful upon reassessment and wishes to be assessed again, they should be referred to the Academic Manager with regard to any associated assessment fees.
  3. If the student is still not satisfied with the results of an appeal the College will arrange for the appeal to be heard by an independent party and provide the student with the opportunity to formally present their case.
  4. The College aims to resolve all appeals within 10 working days of receipt. If it is anticipated that appeal will take more than 60 days to resolve the student will be informed of the reasons in writing and be provided with regular written updates on the progress of the matter.