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Student complaints procedure

Student complaints procedure

Centre of African Studies, Department of POLIS

For any concerns regarding the MPhil degree as a whole or about individual courses (except language teaching, see below), students should contact the MPhil in African Studies Course Director, or the student representative (elected early in Michaelmas term). The student representative liaises with the Course Director or, if preferred, he/she can communicate students’ concerns directly to the MPhil Administrator who will pass them on to the Centre of African Studies Graduate Education Committee. Students can also complete a feedback questionnaire at any time during the academic year using the online ‘Student feedback form’ in the 'Current students' section of the MPhil in African Studies website:

The Centre of African Studies formally compiles anonymous student feedback twice a year, at the end of Michaelmas and Easter terms. Students are asked to fill out a feedback questionnaire (either hard copy or online, as above) about their experience on the MPhil in African Studies. The results of these questionnaires are collated and then discussed at the CAS Graduate Education Committee meeting in Lent term (for Michaelmas term questionnaires) and at the MPhil Examiners’ meeting (for Easter term questionnaires).

Language teaching

Concerns about language teaching should follow the Cambridge University Language programmes (CULP) complaints procedure. This is detailed on the Language Centre website here. If preferred, concerns may be communicated to the MPhil Administrator, or via the online feedback form, from where they will be passed on to the Language Centre.

Dissertation supervision and the CAS Ombudsperson

The great majority of MPhil students have a harmonious and productive relationship with their dissertation supervisor. Concerns should initially be communicated using the means outlined above, but the Graduate Education Committee also recognises the need for an Ombudsperson to deal with more serious complaints. Where such problems arise, the Centre of African Studies asks a senior member of the CAS Management Committee to investigate, reporting through the Graduate Education Committee to the Student Registry. This process is designed to deal with complaints about the academic quality or pedagogic efficiency of supervision made by MPhil students working under the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science Degree Committee. For guidance on other issues that may be of concern, visit the Dignity@Study webpages here.

The role of the Ombudsperson is pastoral and their actions are strictly confidential. Records of contacts between students and the Ombudsperson will not appear in student files. Students can approach of the Ombudsperson in strict confidence without the knowledge of the Graduate Education Committee. Discussions can be kept confidential from the supervisor, or, if requested, the Ombudsperson will seek to reconcile student and supervisor by helping both parties to analyse the situation. If necessary, the Ombudsperson may suggest a change of supervisor and ask permission of the student to refer the case confidentially to the Chair of the CAS Graduate Education Committee.

The current Ombudsperson is Professor Christopher Forsyth:

Student registry procedure

The Student Registry also operates a procedure for dealing with student complaints and appeals, this is detailed on their website here.