School of Nursing and Health Studies

Complaint procedure, academic grievance policy for students

Complaint procedure, and academic grievance policy for students

The School of Nursing and Health Studies holds the faculty and student relationship to be paramount. Therefore, the School has set forth a policy and procedure to aid students, faculty, and staff in resolving academic concerns quickly and directly with the goal of working toward a resolution and maintaining a productive and positive learning environment.

Students who believe they have experienced unfair treatment, inappropriate behavior, or a substantive injustice in the administration of academic or university policies may, except as noted below, seek resolution of their complaints under this policy.


1.  Students contesting individual grades should refer to the SNHS Grade Appeal Policy.

2.  Students who believe they have experienced discrimination should refer to the Resolution of Complaints against University Employees Procedure (UW Administrative Policy Statement 46.3).

3.  Student involved in disciplinary proceedings for misconduct, including plagiarism and cheating, should refer to the Student Conduct Code.


Because the aim of local resolution and informal conciliation is responsiveness, complaints should be brought to the attention of the involved parties promptly, within ten days of the precipitating cause.


The academic advisors are available to assist students to navigate through this process of resolving complaints.  The University Ombud or staff may also be consulted at any point.

Complaint Procedure

Student-Faculty/Staff Discussion

The student is encouraged to attempt to resolve the complaint directly in face-to-face conversation with the faculty or staff member.  The student should make an appointment and state that the purpose is to discuss a complaint.  Either the student or faculty/staff member may request another person be present during the discussion. Most conflicts can be resolved at this stage. 

Director meeting with student and faculty

If the student-instructor discussion does not resolve the issue, the student may contact the Director of Nursing or Director of Health Studies to assist in facilitating a resolution.  (If the circumstances of the complaint make direct discussion inappropriate, students may contact the Director initially.)  The student should request a meeting by email and state the basic purpose of the meeting.  The Director will first obtain information from all parties and then convene a discussion to achieve a resolution.  If needed, the Director may involve the Associate Dean of SNHS or a representative from the Office of the Ombud assist with informal resolution.  Graduate students may also request assistance from a representative of The Graduate School (see Graduate School Memo No. 33).  Disputes resolved through informal conciliation need no documentation.

If the student is dissatisfied with the informal conciliation process, the student may file a formal written grievance within 10 days of the conclusion of the attempted informal process.

Undergraduate students - Formal Grievance Procedure

The student will submit a written summary of the grievance and request an appointment with the Dean by email.  A copy of the grievance should also be provided to the person concerned in the complaint and the academic advisor (for placement of the complaint in the student’s file).  The Dean will meet with the student to understand the student’s continuing dissatisfaction and discuss options for proceeding.  Upon request of the student, the Dean will establish a Grievance Committee to review the complaint.

Resolution by the Grievance Committee

The Grievance committee will consist of two faculty members and two student representative drawn from the Curriculum Coordinating committees.  Other faculty and students may be selected if these members are not available or are parties to the grievance.

Within 10 days, the committee will convene to review the written grievance, gather additional information, and may request a response to the issues raised in the grievance from any individuals believed to have information considered relevant to the situation, including faculty, staff, and students.

The review by the committee will usually be limited to the following considerations:
  1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the student?
  2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the student?
  3. Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision one which a person in the position of the decision maker might reasonably have made?

The committee will normally complete a review of the grievance and issue a decision on the situation in writing within 45 days. That decision is final. All reasonable measures will be taken to finalize the process as soon as practicable.

The student will be informed what steps have been or will be taken to address the grievance, the outcome, the reasons for the decision, and further avenues for appeal.

Graduate students

Students in the graduate program follow the formal complaint process outlined in the UW Graduate School Memo No. 33.

University policies that guide this Grievance and Complaint Policy and Procedure

Approved:  November 2016, Revised Autumn 2018. Approved Autumn 2018.


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