Complaints Procedure and Strategy Document

This document outlines the Complaints procedure adopted by DSA-QAG in respect of complaints received relating to an assessment centre, supplier or DSA-QAGs Central Administration Unit (CAU) staff including field auditors.

DSA-QAG actions complaints related to the business processes of assessment centres and suppliers that are registered with DSA-QAG important DSA-QAG will register the documentation as a complaint only after the student has exhausted the relevant complaints procedure of the centre or supplier.

Please note that complaints related to funding or the content of assessments should be handled by the funding body only. DSA-QAG will pass on any information or documents received, and advise the student that all documentation has been passed to the relevant body for a reply, and where possible, advising the student of a named contact.

DSA-QAG will deal with written complaints; if possible any relevant supporting evidence should be included and sent to the complaints manager at the Central Administration Unit in Glasgow.

All complaints will be sent an acknowledgement within 5 working days of receipt.

We will aim to reply within 20 working days from the day of receiving your complaint, however, depending on the nature of the complaint we may not be able to give a full and detailed reply within the 20 day turnaround time, for example, should your case require a more detailed investigation and other organisations need to be contacted and evidence collated, we will notify you about what is being done, and when you can expect the full reply.

Similar to the above process, complaints in respect of CAU staff or field auditors should be notified to the Chief Executive (CEO) at the Central Administration Unit in Glasgow. The CEO will investigate the complaint and aim to reply within 10 working days. If your case requires more detailed investigation and other organisations need to be contacted and evidence collated, we will notify you about what is being done, and when you can expect the full reply.

Should you not be fully satisfied with our findings, you may request that your complaint be raised with the DSA-QAG Board. If you are not satisfied with the response from the DSA-QAG Board you may request that your complaint be raised with the DSA-QAG Chair.

The DSA-QAG Chairs response will be final.

QAG COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Strategy Documents for handling complaints

This procedure outlines arrangements for handling complaints made under the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) -

Students

The funding body (SFE, SAAS, Local Authorities, NHS, etc) is responsible for approving the Disabled Student Allowances (DSA) for a student who is entitled to the allowance. If a student has any complaints about the way in which their DSA has been administered then that complaint should be addressed to the relevant funding body. The funding body may act in the role of advocate for the student in respect of the assessment centre, needs assessment report, assessor and supplier. The funding body has the authority and responsibility to ensure that the student obtains best service in respect of the DSA process.

If a student should be dissatisfied with the way in which the funding body has administered the DSA then the student has full recourse to the funding bodies’ complaints procedure that would lead, as a final point, to the complaint being made to the appropriate funding body Ombudsman (refer to Appendix 1 for further details). Therefore it is anticipated that the QAG complaints procedure should not include provision to consider a complaint from a student in respect of a funding body, however, QAG may highlight a complaint to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

There is a requirement that all assessment centres and suppliers will have their own internal Complaints Procedure. Any complaints which are addressed to QAG should take full account of the responsibilities and duties of these stakeholders. QAG recognises its limited role in this field.

A) About Assessment Centres

1. It needs to be clear to anyone who has dealings with an assessment centre that there is a route by which a complaint will be considered whatever the origins of the complaint. This information should be contained within the assessment centre's internal complaints procedure and within the funding body's documentation regarding DSA application. Making a complaint to QAG should be seen as a last resort mechanism after all other procedures have been escalated and exhausted. Even then QAG may determine that the specific complaint does not fall within its scope and we will pass to the relevant organisation and inform the student.

2. Any formal complaint from any source should, in the first instance, be made in writing and addressed to the relevant assessment centre manager. The information literature produced by the assessment centre should carry a clear statement that any formal complaint should be sent to a specified person (the assessment manager or nominated person) at a specified address and that it will be considered under the assessment centre's complaints procedure.

3. That information literature should also carry the address of the complaints manager at DSA-QAG. A statement should indicate that only if the assessment centre has failed to satisfy the complainant should a complaint be forwarded to the CAU at DSA-QAG.

4. The complaints manager will respond to a complaint on behalf of DSA-QAG. The complaints manager should ensure that the centre manager is made aware of any complaint about the centre or its staff. The assessment centre manager should be invited to provide a written response to the complaints manager of DSA-QAG to assist in determining DSA-QAGs response to the complaint.

5. The centre manager should acknowledge the complaint within 5 working days and provide a response to DSA-QAG within 10 working days from receipt.

6. The complaints manager will keep a full record of all complaints and will report to the DSA-QAG Board and Associate Members on this area of activity or on individual cases of complaints should QAG members request that. Adhering to Data Protection on individual complaints.

7. Individual DSA-QAG members should not become directly engaged as individuals in dealing with a complaint. CEO/Chair of DSA-QAG should be the conduit of the complaints procedure.

8. All complaints should be made in writing with whatever supporting evidence that is relevant. The complaints manager may then, in writing, request further information or written observations from any relevant party before determining a response to the complaint.

9. It will be important that complaints are dealt with expeditiously and, to that end, a complainant should be made aware in writing of the steps being taken to address their complaint and the time-scales that are being applied.

10. The QAG complaints managers decision will carry the following paragraph:

"I have investigated your complaint and on the basis of all the information available to me I have reached the following decision."

[DECISION]

If you are not satisfied with this decision you may request, in writing, that the CEO/Chair review your complaint but, in making such a request, you should draw members' attention to the specific issues which you feel have not been fully taken into account and your justification for that view".

11. It will be important that a formal complaints procedure deals in evidence in a written format only.

B) About a supplier

1. It needs to be clear to anyone who has dealings with a supplier that there is a route by which a complaint will be considered whatever the origins of the complaint. This information should be contained within the suppliers internal complaints procedure and within the funding body's documentation regarding DSA application. Making a complaint to QAG should be seen as a last resort mechanism after all other procedures have been escalated and exhausted. Even then QAG may determine that the specific complaint does not fall within its scope and we will pass to the relevant organisation and inform the student.

2. Any formal complaint from any source should, in the first instance, be made in writing and addressed to the relevant person within the suppliers organisation. The information literature produced by the supplier should carry a clear statement that any formal complaint should be sent to a specified person (either a manager or nominated person) at a specified address and that it will be considered under the suppliers complaints procedure.

3. That Information literature should also carry the address of the complaints manager at DSA-QAG. A statement should indicate that only if the supplier has failed to satisfy the complainant should a complaint be forwarded to the CAU at DSA-QAG.

4. The complaints manager will respond to a complaint on behalf of DSA-QAG. The complaints manager should be alerted to issues such as natural justice in respect of the suppliers entitlement to know of any complaint about the Company or its staff. The supplier should be invited to provide a written response to the complaints manager of DSA-QAG to assist in determining DSA-QAG's response to the complaint.

5. The supplier should acknowledge the complaint within 5 working days and provide a response to DSA-QAG within 10 working days from receipt.

6. The complaints manager will keep a full record of all complaints and will report to the DSA-QAG Board and Associate Members on this area of activity or on individual cases of complaints should QAG members request that.

7. Individual DSA-QAG members should not become directly engaged as individuals in dealing with a complaint. CEO/Chair of DSA-QAG should be the conduit of the complaints procedure.

8. All complaints should be made in writing with whatever supporting evidence that is relevant. The complaints manager may then, in writing, request further information or written observations from any relevant party before determining a response to the complaint.

9. It will be important that complaints are dealt with expeditiously and, to that end, a complainant should be made aware in writing of the steps being taken to address their complaint and the time-scales that are being applied.

10. The QAG complaints managers decision will carry the following paragraph:

"I have investigated your complaint and on the basis of all the information available to me I have reached the following decision.

[DECISION]

If you are not satisfied with this decision you may request, in writing, that the CEO/Chair review your complaint but, in making such a request, you should draw members' attention to the specific issues which you feel have not been fully taken into account and your justification for that view".

11. It will be important that a formal complaints procedure deals in evidence in a written format only.

C) About Central Administration Unit.

1. Any formal complaint in respect of the Central Administration Unit including field auditors, in the first instance, should to be made in writing and addressed to the Chief Executive at our offices DSA-QAG, Central Chambers, Suite 350, 4th Floor, 93 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 6LD.

2. The complaint will be acknowledged by the Chief Executive within 5 working days.

3. The Chief Executive will investigate the complaint and respond within 10 working days from receipt.

4. Where the complainant is not satisfied with the response, this should be notified in writing to the Chair of DSA-QAG (at the address noted above).

5. The Chair of QAG may conduct further enquiries, recognising always the importance of holding a written dialogue to avoid misunderstandings.

6. The Chair of QAG will respond to the complaint on behalf of QAG.

The Chairs decision will carry the following paragraph:

"I have investigated your complaint and on the basis of all the information available to me I have reached the following decision:"

[DECISION]

If you are not satisfied with this decision you may request, in writing, that the Board and or group of QAG members review your complaint but, in making such a request, you should draw members' attention to the specific issues which you feel have not been fully taken into account and your justification for that view.

7. DSA-QAG will aim to resolve all complaints received in a prompt, professional and manner.

Appendix 1

Useful links to the various funding body ombudsman or complaints divisions-