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Equiniti Higher Education Complaints & Feedback Management

Transforming the Higher Education Complaints & Feedback Management Landscape

Friday, 25 August 2023

Higher education plays a pivotal role in shaping the intellectual, professional, and personal growth of individuals. It serves as a gateway to opportunities and a platform for critical thinking, research, and innovation. However, the increasing number of complaints within the higher education sector has raised concerns about the overall quality of education and student experiences.

Anthony Eghan Anthony Eghan Account Director, EQ Customer Resolutions

Anthony Eghan, Account Director at EQ Customer Resolutions reviews how the introduction of a specialised complaints management system holds significant promise in addressing this issue. Such a system could not only streamline the complaints process but could also manage the appeals and referral processes too, fostering transparency and ultimately leading to improvements and efficiency gains in the higher education sector.  

A centralised complaints management system can also manage Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs) and Freedom of Information (FOIs) requests as well as many other case types and processes.

The Rising Tide of Higher Education Complaints

The surge in complaints within higher education institutions is multifaceted, stemming from various aspects such as academic quality, administrative processes, student services, and overall campus experiences. Grievances can range from issues related to ineffective teaching methods, inadequate facilities, miscommunication, unfair grading, recent tutor/lecturer industrial action, and even incidents of harassment or discrimination. As the higher education sector expands to accommodate a larger and more diverse student population, the likelihood of encountering such challenges also increases.

Challenges in Current Complaints Management

Traditional methods of managing complaints in higher education often involve manual processes, lacking standardised procedures, and using a paper-based system or MS Excel to manage complaint cases and communication gaps between students, faculty, and administrators. This can lead to delays in resolving issues, mismanagement of grievances, and a general sense of frustration among all stakeholders. As a result, institutions might struggle to address complaints effectively, resulting in tarnished reputations and diminished student satisfaction.

The Specialised Complaints Management System Solution

Introducing a specialised complaints management system tailored to the unique needs of higher education institutions offers a comprehensive solution to address these challenges. This system would be a digital platform that centralises the complaints process, streamlines communication, and ensures efficient resolution of issues. Here's how such a system could contribute to enhancing the higher education sector:

  • Centralised Platform: A specialised system would provide a single platform where students can submit their complaints and concerns, ensuring that no grievances go unnoticed or unaddressed.

  • Efficient Workflow: Automated workflows can route complaints to the appropriate faculty head/department or personnel for swift resolution. This ensures that complaints are handled by the most qualified individuals, reducing the chances of mismanagement.
  • Transparency: The system could provide real-time updates on the status of complaints, giving students and complainants clear insights into the progress being made towards resolution.
  • Data-Driven Insights: By collecting and analysing complaint data, institutions can identify recurring issues and trends, allowing them to make informed decisions about areas that require improvement.
  • Timely Resolution: The system could establish and track defined timelines for addressing complaints, ensuring that issues are resolved in a timely manner whilst reducing frustration among students and stakeholders.
  • Feedback Loop: An integrated feedback mechanism could allow students to rate the effectiveness of the resolution process, helping institutions continuously refine their approach.
  • Comprehensive Reporting: The system could generate comprehensive reports on the types of complaints, their resolution times, and overall trends. This data could be valuable for institutional planning and quality improvement initiatives.
  • Empowerment and Accountability: A structured specialised complaints and feedback management system encourages accountability among faculty and administrators, promoting a culture of responsibility and ensuring that issues are dealt with promptly.

The introduction of a specialised complaints management system such as EQ’s Complaints Professional has the potential to transform the higher education landscape by fostering transparency, efficiency, and accountability. By addressing the challenges associated with traditional complaints management, institutions can better serve their students and third-party stakeholders. They can also improve overall satisfaction, and enhance the quality of education. The higher education sector continues to evolve. Embracing innovative solutions like a specialised complaints management system can pave the way to a more streamlined, effective, and responsive educational environment.

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