The Department of Psychiatry has a strong commitment to the quality of its teaching and pastoral care for our community of postgraduate students. However, from time to time students may be unhappy with their interactions with their supervisor, the quality of supervision, or any aspect of their education within the department. In these cases, students can, in confidence, seek the advice of the Director of Postgraduate Education (DPE; John Suckling) or the Education Supervisor (ES; Adisa Broadhurst) who in the first instance will explore if an informal resolution can be found. All complaints are treated seriously and a resolution sought within a reasonable time.
This process forms Step 1 of the University’s Student Complaints policy: https://www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/student-complaints
After a student raises a concern, the following process will be initiated:
- The DPE, or their delegate, will explain the Student’s Complaints policy, and offer them the opportunity for informal resolution.
- If the student agrees to informal resolution, the Postgraduate Education Committee (PEC) is informed of the nature of the complaint.
- If the PEC determines that the complaint is of a serious nature, the HoD is informed of the complaint.
- Two members of the PEC are assigned to handle the complaint, supported by the ES.
- An initial meeting is held with the student to explore the nature of the complaint and the kind of resolution that might be satisfactory from their point of view.
- A discussion of the matter takes place with the supervisor and others, as appropriate.
- With the agreement of all those involved, a meeting with the student and supervisor is held.
- Subsequent fortnightly meetings are held to track progress until resolution.
- If no satisfactory resolution can be found, then the student will be supported in the next step of the University’s Student Complaint procedure.
If the supervisor in question happens to be the Director of Postgraduate Education, one of the other members of the Postgraduate Education Committee would deal with the matter.
If the student complaint relates to their relationship with their supervisor, it is recognised that where difficulties arise, it is often unclear where the ‘fault may lie’, given the specific relationship between student and supervisor. Fault is therefore not assigned and instead the focus is on finding a resolution for the student who is ultimately the more vulnerable party because of their juniority and educational stage.
Most problems or complaints can be resolved quickly and efficiently with the support, involvement or intervention of University staff or your College Tutor. You may also seek independent advice from the Students’ Union Advice Service. Please note that, according to the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals, you are expected to exhaust all avenues of early informal resolution before initiating any formal complaint, review or appeal processes.
The Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) provides procedural advice, case handling and oversight of a number of student procedures including complaints and the review of examination results.