Make a complaint

Guidance for registered students on how to make a complaint about any part of your university experience.

It is a normal part of life that you may have a complaint.  We view complaints positively as they help us learn how to do things better. You will not be treated differently in any part of your university life if you make a complaint.

Timeframe to raise a complaint

Raise complaints promptly within 30 days of them arising. If you miss this deadline, you must have a good reason for a late complaint.

If your complaint relates to sexual misconduct or any other potential criminal behaviour, email The team can advise you on next steps.

Specialist support is available for those who have experienced sexual misconduct

Informal complaints

If you think your complaint can be resolved informally, contact the relevant person to discuss it:

You should receive acknowledgement of receipt of your complaint within 7 days and a response within 21 days.

If you do not receive a response within 21 days or are unsatisfied with the proposed resolution or outcome, you have an additional 30 days to make a formal complaint.

Formal complaints

  • You must submit your complaint on time. If you do not have all the documents that you wish to submit with your complaint, you can submit these later.
  • Explain your complaint clearly and concisely.
  • Clearly set out the outcome that you would like to achieve from your complaint.
  • Be polite. We understand that making a complaint may be a challenging time for you, but we will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour towards our staff who are trying to deal with your complaint. If we deem your behaviour to be unacceptable in this matter, we may terminate your complaint.
  • If you would like us to talk to other people to seek further information, include their contact details and confirm that they have given their consent for us to contact them.
  • If we are unclear about any part of your complaint, we will come back to you to ask you for confirmation that we have understood your complaint.

Formal reports about sexual misconduct

Sexual misconduct covers a broad range of inappropriate and unwanted behaviours of a sexual nature. 

If you would like to make a formal report, complete the sexual misconduct form.

Help and advice is available if you need support or would like to discuss your options. 

Formal reports about unacceptable behaviour

Unacceptable behaviour is any unwanted actions or practices that are inappropriate, unreasonable or offensive.

Reporting a student

If you wish to report a student, complete the student unacceptable behaviour form and email it to

Reporting a member of staff

If you wish to report a member of staff, complete the staff unacceptable behaviour form and email it to the Student Complaints and Mediation Manager (SCMM):

The team will:

  • refer complaints to the relevant HR team. They will consider it under the appropriate staff procedure e.g. the Staff Conduct Procedure. They may explore informal resolution first such as mediation, before taking further action. 
  • refer complaints relating to Free Speech/Academic Freedom to an Assessor under the Free Speech and Academic Freedom procedure.

Unacceptable behaviour does not include:

  • Legitimate criticism of a student's performance or behaviour
  • Reasonable requests made by members of staff to students. 

Find out more about staff misconduct

Advice and support

Any other formal complaints

Complete the complaint form and email it to

Late complaints

If you submit a late complaint, you must have good reason why it is late. If you wish to raise a complaint outside the time period specified:

Support with raising a complaint

  • We encourage all students to speak to the Bristol SU advice team who are experienced in advising and supporting students through the complaint procedure.
  • You can also request help from the University’s wellbeing service.
  • If someone, such as a parent, relative or friend (“supporter”), writes to us to bring a complaint on your behalf, we cannot respond to that complaint unless we have your consent.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your formal complaint

  • You can request that your complaint is escalated to the University Stage by emailing and explaining you are dissatisfied with the outcome to date.
  • You must do this within 14 days of receiving the first response.
  • A panel will review your complaint, usually within 30 days.
  • The Panel will write to you with a decision usually within 3 weeks of the Panel meeting.
  • The Panel can dismiss your complaint, refer it back to the original decision maker with recommendations for resolution, or ask a committee to consider your appeal.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint at the University Stage, you can request The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education OIA (HE) to review your complaint. You have 12 months to ask the OIA to review your complaint.

Freedom of speech code of practice

Information on the University's freedom of speech policy can be found in the Student Rules and Regulations.

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