Complaint Resolution Process for Learners
Our goal is to create collaborative systems and practices that facilitate a positive learning environment in support of each student’s degree goals. We strive to ensure each student’s experience at WKU, from initial contact through commencement is both friendly and efficient.
WKU will make every attempt to resolve student complaints within its academic and administrative departments at the program level. If you are unsure whom to contact please email firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the distance learning staff will contact you with additional information, and forward your complaint to the appropriate WKU administrative authority.
We recommend that students first contact the professor for the course. If, after contacting the professor, the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved, the student may call or email Online Learning at 270-745-4087 or email@example.com. Online Learning will make every effort to work as a liaison between you and the faculty member to resolve the issue at hand. The official student complaint procedure for resolving a complaint concerning a faculty member is outlined below in four steps.
- Step 1: Faculty Member
- The first step is for the student to discuss the complaint with the faculty member involved. If the faculty member is no longer employed by the University, the student should go directly to the department head who will contact and represent the former faculty member. If the complaint involves a grade, the student must take the complaint to the faculty member within the first two weeks of the first regular semester (fall; spring) following the assignment of the grade. It is hoped that the complaint may be satisfactorily dealt with at this level.
- Step 2: Department Level
- If the student and the faculty member are unable to resolve the complaint, the student may take the complaint to the faculty member’s department head. Written notification of the complaint must be given to the department head within two weeks after meeting with faculty member (Step 1). It is the responsibility of the department head to arrange for a conference where the student, faculty member, and the department head will be present for discussion. Neither the faculty member nor the student will be allowed representation at the conference. The department head shall hear both sides of the complaint and shall attempt to mediate a settlement. The department head shall keep a written record of the proceedings, including the recommended solution. The department head’s recommended solution is to be considered by both the faculty member and the student as a recommendation and not as a decision that is binding.
- Step 3: College Level
- Should the student be unable to receive the satisfaction desired at the departmental level, the complaint may be taken to the college level. Written notification of the complaint must be submitted to the college dean or his/her designated representative within two weeks after the conference with the department head (Step 2). Upon receipt of the notification, the college dean or his/her representative shall provide the student a copy of the procedural guidelines to be followed by the College Complaint Committee. The procedural guidelines shall provide for a conference with both the student and the faculty member present for joint discussion of the complaint with the Committee.
- Step 4: University Level
- Should the student or faculty member desire to appeal the decision of the College Complaint Committee, a formal written notice of appeal may be submitted to the University Complaint Committee chair, with a copy to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs within two weeks of the decision of the College Complaint Committee. The chair of the University Complaint Committee will provide the student and faculty member involved with a copy of the University Complaint Committee’s procedural guidelines. The University Complaint Committee will secure copies of the written proceedings from the department head and the College Complaint Committee. The University Complaint Committee will schedule a conference where the faculty member and the student jointly discuss the issue. Neither the faculty member nor the student will be allowed representation at the conference. The Committee’s decision will be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, with a copy being sent as a matter of record to the student, faculty member, faculty member’s department head, and the faculty member’s college dean. The Office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs will see that decisions of the University Complaint Committee are carried out. The University Complaint Committee’s decision is final.
Out of State Distance Learners – Complaint Resolution
Students enrolled in distance learning courses at WKU should attempt to resolve complaints by using the policies and procedures outlined above. Students may also review information in the WKU Student Handbook. However, if the issue cannot be resolved internally, students can file a complaint about the institution with their state of residence by referring to the following list of State Agencies. Additionally, students may file a complaint with WKU’s accrediting body, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) by downloading the SACS Complaint Procedures Form (PDF).
Student Ombuds Officer
Students may also seek assistance with this process through the Student Ombuds Officer.
This position, the responsibilities of which may be shared among multiple individuals, is appointed by the Provost and serves as an information source and point of communication for students who believe they may have a personal grievance regarding an alleged violation, misinterpretation or improper application of University policies and procedures, or alleged improper treatment.
Serving as a designated neutral, the Ombuds Officer is neither an advocate for any individual nor for the University; rather, the Ombuds Officer is available to offer an objective perspective on the issues/matters of concern.
The Ombuds Officer’s role does not replace existing University policies for academic complaints or conflict/grievance resolution:
- The Ombuds Officer is not designated as, and shall not serve as, an official authorized to receive official notice of any kind on behalf of the University
- Communication with the Ombuds Officer does not roll or extend applicable time periods or deadlines established by other university policies and procedures.
Students are free to utilize or not to utilize the Ombuds Officer in addressing any issues or concerns. The Ombuds Officer is independent from existing administrative structures and for the purpose of these duties shall have direct communication as needed with the Provost.
- Provides impartial and confidential consultation to students who have a concern related to a personal grievance regarding an alleged violation, misinterpretation or improper application of University policies and procedures, or alleged improper treatment.
- Explains University policies and procedures as they apply in particular academic situations.
- Works to resolve problems for which no clear procedure exists, and seeks alternative means to achieve equitable solutions.
- With inquirer’s permission, may consult involved parties to clarify and analyze issues, focus discussions, and offer possible resolution alternatives.
- Refers inquirers to supervisors and/or appropriate University officials who are able to address the matters of concern.
- Maintains the highest levels of professionalism, confidentiality, integrity, and sound judgment, treating all individuals with dignity and respect.
For assistance please call (270) 745-6169.