Public complaints procedure

As a large organisation operating numerous buildings and providing a wide range of activities through the work of around 1,500 staff, the College understands that on occasion people or organisations external to the University may be dissatisfied or concerned about the way the College, its staff or students have acted.

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We seek to use feedback to improve the facilities and activities we offer, while always protecting legitimate academic freedom.

Subjects not covered by this policy

While we are open to feedback on the College’s activities from the widest range of stakeholders, there are certain categories of people who have redress to other forms of feedback and complaint procedures:

  • Students may not use this procedure and should instead consider using our dedicated Student Complaints and Appeals procedures
  • Complaints about student experience will not generally be handled under this policy and the student should instead pursue the matter through the above procedures.
  • Appeals against student admissions decisions cannot be handled under this policy and the applicant should instead refer to our Admissions Policy, Section 9 of which details the complaints procedure.
  • Goldsmiths staff may not use this procedure and should instead consider raising the matter through the relevant internal processes set out on Goldmine.

Complaints about research integrity will not generally be handled under this policy and concerns relating to research ethics should instead be referred to our procedure for Dealing with Allegations of Academic and Scientific Misconduct, set out at in Safeguarding Research Practice (PDF).

This policy is not designed to handle complaints relating to the disclosure of information under Data Protection, Freedom of Information and/or Environmental Information Regulations, which should be handled via the appropriate procedures set out at in our Data Protection and Freedom of Information sections.

Universities are spaces for research into, and discussion of, a wide range of politically and socially sensitive subjects. We have a statutory duty to uphold freedom of speech, and to protect the ability of our staff to explore controversial topics within the limits of the law. We are therefore not usually able to consider complaints that relate to the content of academic material or events.

The College is not usually able to handle complaints about Goldsmiths Students’ Union. The Students’ Union is an independent body, both a registered charity in its own right and with its own management structure and governance board. Complaints about the Students’ Union should be addressed through their own procedures in the first instance:

The College reserves the right not to investigate or take any action in relation to any complaints received anonymously or received on behalf of an anonymous complainant through a third party.

The College reserves the right to decline to consider any complaints which are merely frivolous, vexatious, defamatory, abusive and/or motivated by malice, or to enter into continuing correspondence about such complaints.

How to make a complaint

Bearing in mind the limitations set out above, if you have cause for complaint about the activities or behaviour of the College, its staff or students, you are encouraged to try first to resolve the matter informally, in consultation with either the person who has caused the complaint, or (where relevant) with that person’s line manager, or with another appropriate person within the area of Goldsmiths where the complaint has arisen. (See our Report a Problem or Contact page for help finding the correct person.)

Should that approach not prove satisfactory, you should put your complaint in writing. This should include:

  • The background to the complaint, including dates and times of any particular incidents and the names of any people against whom you are complaining or who can provide evidence in support of your complaint.
  • Any specific issues which you want to be addressed.
  • What outcome(s) you hope to achieve from the complaints process.

Complaints should be sent in writing to the Executive Office at executiveoffice ( Your complaint will then be allocated to the appropriate senior manager who will acknowledge receipt (and, if possible, arrange an initial response) within 7 working days.

In order for a complaint to be considered, it should be received within two calendar months after the date on which the event causing the complaint occurred. If the complaint is received any later, we will exercise discretion as to whether or not to investigate the matter.

What happens next

A response will be made within 30 calendar days of receipt of your complaint. If the investigation cannot be completed in that time for good reason (such as staff unavailability due to leave) or the matter is complex, you will be advised of a revised timescale.

We will maintain confidentiality throughout the complaints process, revealing information to others only to the extent necessary to complete a proper investigation and make a considered response. You should be aware than in some cases, this may involve identifying you as the complainant.

If the complaint relates to the conduct of a student or a member of staff, this may be investigated under the relevant disciplinary procedure. In common with many other organisations and in line with data protection law, it is unlikely to be possible to provide details of the outcomes of any such disciplinary procedure to external parties. However, we are committed to learning broader lessons from such processes, and will amend our policies and procedures in light of relevant findings.

What happens if you are not satisfied with our response

In the event that you still remain dissatisfied following receipt of our response, you may request that the matter should be referred to the Warden for review. In cases involving the College’s administration (rather than academic activities), the Warden may ask the Registrar & Secretary to conduct the review. The Warden’s decision (or that of the Registrar & Secretary) will be final; there is no appeal against his or her decision.

Final responses will be made within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request for review. If the review cannot be completed in that time for good reason (such as staff unavailability due to leave) or the matter is complex, you will be advised of a revised timescale.