Academic complaints procedure

Effective 1 January 2023

This procedure is supplemental to Te Kawa Maiorooro, Te Pūkenga’s Educational Regulatory Framework. Te Kawa Maiorooro sets out the overarching regulations that apply to learning and delivery (teaching, assessment, rangahau and research, and support activities) at Te Pūkenga.  As and when finalised, Te Pūkenga will publish policies and procedures that are intended to sit underneath Te Kawa Maiorooro and prescribe detailed requirements.

In the meantime, pursuant to Te Pūkenga’s Grandparenting Policy, the regulations, policies, and procedures of the former subsidiaries apply unless there is a national regulation or policy in place.  Accordingly, where a specific matter is not addressed within Te Kawa Maiorooro, this procedure is intended to prescribe the requirements that are specific to the Unitec business division.

To the extent that there is any conflict or inconsistency between any of Unitec’s policies or procedures and Te Kawa Maiorooro, Te Kawa Maiorooro shall prevail and have priority.

1. Purpose

The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that ākonga have access to a complaints resolution process that is timely, fair, effective, culturally appropriate, and upholds the principles of natural justice.

2. Audience and scope

These procedures apply to complaints from ākonga about:

  • their course or programme; OR
  • an enrolment or admission decision (Refer s2.1.a. Ākonga Concerns and Complaints Policy).

3.   Complaint Procedure

3.1 Where a concern has been addressed informally and is not resolved to the ākonga’s satisfaction, it is strongly recommended that ākonga:
a) Seek advice/guidance from Unitec’s Support/Advocacy Services.
b) Check the Ākonga Concerns and Complaints Policy.
c) Complete the Complaint Form stating clearly why they are dissatisfied with the decision made and the outcome they are seeking.
d) Email the completed form to

A Complaint must be received in the Resolutions inbox within 21 days of Ākonga being notified of the relevant decision.

Note: In exceptional circumstances Unitec may extend the timeframe for notification of a Complaint. Ākonga must contact Student Support Services for advice if they have experienced a time delay beyond the 21-day period.  Evidence of the exceptional circumstances must be provided.

Exceptional circumstances are defined to include:

  • Severe illness that incapacitates the ākonga for a period of more than 7 days.
  • Severe injury requiring hospitalisation for more than 7 days.
  • Bereavement of an immediate family member.
  • The birth of a child during the 21-day period.

4. Receiving a Complaint

The Resolutions email inbox is managed by Te Korowai Kahurangi.

a) Acknowledgement of receipt of the Complaint will be sent from within two working days.

b) Within two working days of receipt, the Complaints Officer will confirm that informal resolution has not been successful and consider whether the complaint is explained clearly and that evidence of communication with relevant academic and support staff is attached.  If the complaint is explained clearly and includes all relevant attachments, it will be forwarded for investigation.  If the complaint is not explained clearly or there are attachments missing, it will be returned to the ākonga with an explanation as to why it has been returned.

c) Where the matter is forwarded for investigation, an Investigator, who is a Senior Academic outside of the school in which the ākonga is enrolled, will be appointed to investigate the issue.  The Complaint, together with any other documents submitted by the ākonga, will be forwarded to the investigator within two working days of receipt.

d) The Investigator receiving the Complaint must consider if they are sufficiently independent and without bias to investigate it.  If they are not, they must delegate the responsibility to another suitable person. They may also choose to delegate the responsibility for other reasons.

e) If the Investigator needs to delegate, this must be decided within three working days and notice of delegation must be emailed to

f) The Complaint will be registered on the central Ākonga Complaints Register by the Complaints Officer within Te Korowai Kahurangi.

5. Investigating a Complaint

The Investigator must introduce themselves as the Investigator via email to all parties within two working days of receiving the Complaint and begin the investigation. From then on, they will provide weekly email updates to all parties.

5.1 Investigation Process

a) At the time of introduction, the Investigator must provide a copy of the Complaint to any other kaimahi or ākonga named in the Academic Complaint.

b) The Investigator must act in accordance with other relevant policies and liaise with the appropriate people as required.

c) The Investigator may separately interview all parties involved, advising them that they may bring a support person with them to any meetings, and review any relevant documentation. Any person making a statement needs to verify the accuracy of their statement. This may be done by signing and dating the statement in front of a witness.

d) The investigator will document each step of their investigation, including dates, who was present, what was discussed and what resolution, if any, was reached.

e) Where no response is received from the ākonga who made the Complaint within 30 calendar days of Unitec sending them any correspondence requiring a response, the Investigator may decide not to proceed with the Investigation.

f) The Investigator must decide to uphold or deny the Complaint within ten working days of their appointment and notify that decision (via email or letter) to all the parties in a report with a copy to The Investigator will notify all parties if a longer timeframe is required to finalise his/her report.

g) If the Complaint is denied, the ākonga can seek advice as to whether they have grounds to appeal the Investigator's decision. This process is outlined In Te Pūkenga Ākonga Appeals Policy.

h) Feedback on the complaints process will be sought from the complainant on their experience of the complaints process and will be used to inform continuous quality improvement of the procedures. 

Roles and responsibilities


  • To seek informal resolution in the first instance.
  • To seek independent advice and guidance from Unitec Support/Advocacy before submitting the form.
  • Provide any additional information requested by the Investigator to support the Complaint.
  • Respond within 30 working days to any correspondence requiring a response.

Te Korowai Kahurangi Resolutions

  • Acknowledge receipt of the Complaint.
  • Facilitate the allocation of an Investigator.
  • Update Complaints Register.
  • Maintain records and report monthly to the senior manager with responsibility for Concerns and Complaints, and annually to Te Ohu Whakahaere Quality, to ākonga on the website, and to the code administrator (NZQA) on the overall numbers and nature of complaints and outcomes for the year.


  • Acknowledge receipt of Complaint.
  • Investigate the matter fully by interviewing all parties and/or researching all relevant documentation.
  • Keep all parties informed of progress.
  • Reach a decision and notify all parties of the outcome.

Academic staff/ Programme Co-ordinator /APM/HoS

  • Meet with ākonga and investigator to resolve the Complaint.
  • Provide copies of any documents or evidence required by the Investigator.

Ākonga Support/Advocate

  • Provide support to the ākonga.
  • Provide accurate advice based on Unitec policy and procedure.
  • Upon request by the ākonga, act as liaison between the ākonga and the academic staff or other staff members involved in the process.


A matter where it is likely that resolution can be obtained by direct, informal consultation with the people concerned. A situation where the ākonga considers appropriate standards have not been met but the impact on them has not been great.

An expression of dissatisfaction where the ākonga seeks some form of redress or change in a situation: where the ākonga considers that there has been a direct and significant adverse impact on him/her, which requires a formal process of resolution.

Complaint Investigator
A senior academic who conducts an investigation and presents recommendations if applicable. The Investigator should be independent of the school from which the Complaint is made.

Informal process
The process whereby the ākonga attempts to resolve an academic concern directly with staff within the school.

Reference Documents

  • Complaint Form

Approval Details

Version number: 2

Issue Date: 1 January 2023

Version History; See below

Approval authority: Academic Board

Date of Approval: 7 December 2022

Procedure Sponsor (Has authority to approve minor amendments): Deputy Chief Executive, Academic

Owner: Te Korowai Kahurangi

Contact Person: Director, Te Korowai Kahurangi

Date of Next Review: February 2024

Amendment history

Version: 2
Issue date: 1 January 2023.
Reason for revision: Updated to align with Te Kawa Maiorooro v2023/01.
Approved by: Deputy Chief Executive, Academic.

Version: 1
Issue date: 
Reason for revision: New Procedure.
Approved by: Deputy Chief Executive, Academic.