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The Heatherley School of Fine Art, 75 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0RN  |  phone 020 7351 4190

The British Accreditation Council
Complaints Policy

All accredited organisations must have an explicit and fair complaints procedure in place to which students, their parents/guardians, or other stakeholders have access, and this procedure should be exhausted before a complaint is referred to BAC.
Please note that students at higher education providers in the UK are required to submit their complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
For further information concerning this Complaints Procedure please refer to the British Accreditation Council Handbook via their website.

Complaints by students against an accredited organisation
If a student or the student’s representative has completed the organisation’s own complaints procedure but has still not achieved a satisfactory resolution, the following should be submitted to BAC:
• A detailed letter of complaint, including a full description of the cause for complaint and the circumstances in which it arose
• A written statement either by letter or email from the complainant authorising BAC to
investigate the complaint and to raise the matter with the organisation on the complainant’s behalf.
• Copies of all supporting documentation relating to the complaint. BAC staff will seek to resolve all complaints received against accredited organisations to the mutual satisfaction of the complainant and the organisation, with the exception of complaints that appear to relate to offences more appropriately referred to a statutory authority.

What BAC can do
When BAC receives a complaint from a student or his/her representative against an accredited organisation, the following procedure applies:
• BAC requests evidence to support the complaint; and
• BAC requests evidence to show that the complainant has exhausted the organisation’s complaints procedure.

Only if the above evidence is received will the procedure below be followed:
• The details of the complaint will be recorded by BAC staff.
• BAC will collate the relevant documentation.
• The organisation concerned will be informed of the nature of the complaint and asked to investigate its cause.
• The organisation will be required to submit a written response within ten working days, detailing the outcome of its investigation and, where appropriate, proposing a course of action to resolve the matter.
• BAC will inform the complainant of the outcome of the organisation’s investigation and any proposed course of action.
• BAC will, with the agreement of both the complainant and the organisation, make reasonable attempts to mediate between the two parties in order to resolve the matter.
• BAC may make recommendations for resolving the matter, but these will not be binding on either party.

If the matter remains unresolved after BAC’s attempts, a report on the complaint will be made to the Accreditation Committee.
A report will also be made to the Accreditation Committee if more than three complaints against any one organisation are received in any one year.

If a complaint is received against an organisation that BAC does not accredit, BAC will ascertain whether or not the organisation is accredited by another recognised accrediting body. If it is, BAC will redirect the complainant to that other body. Any new or outstanding complaint against an organisation whose accreditation has been withdrawn by BAC, or that withdrew voluntarily from accreditation, may be similarly redirected should the organisation later be awarded accreditation by another recognised accrediting body.

The British Accreditation Council
The role of the Accreditation Committee
If the Accreditation Committee (or a delegated sub-committee of its members) receives a report on a complaint against an accredited organisation, it will assess whether or not there is evidence that the standards required for accreditation are not being met, and it may make one of the following decisions:
• To dismiss the complaint.
• To require further investigation of the complaint by BAC, which may include an unannounced
spot check at the organisation’s expense.
• To require the organisation to undertake remedial or compensatory action where it is
considered to have failed to meet its responsibilities or uphold the standards of accreditation; if the organisation refuses to undertake such action, its accreditation may be suspended or withdrawn.
• To require an immediate spot check, supplementary inspection, or full inspection at the organisation’s expense where there is evidence that the minimum standards required for accreditation are not being met; if the organisation refuses to submit to the inspection, its accreditation may be withdrawn.
• To withdraw accreditation; this decision is normally made only where the report of the
complaint indicates that the organisation has refused to cooperate with BAC’s investigation; that it has refused to take any required remedial or compensatory action; or that there is convincing evidence of illegal behaviour by its senior management or any other serious breach of BAC’s regulations.

BAC will notify the complainant and the organisation in writing of the Accreditation Committee’s decision.

What BAC cannot do:
BAC cannot consider complaints under the following circumstances:
• Where the complainant has failed, without good reason, to make use of the organisation’s own complaints procedure.
• Where the complainant fails to provide evidence to support the complaint.
• Where the organisation is not currently accredited by BAC.
• Where the substance of the complaint is not relevant to BAC’s regulations or accreditation standards.
• Where the complaint is made anonymously or solely by telephone; complaints must
be made in writing and accompanied by the complainant’s name and address.
• Where the complaint relates to a refund claim but is not accompanied by legible proof of payment in the form of a receipt; copies of bank statements are not sufficient.
• Where the complaint is already subject to a legal process or the complainant has engaged a solicitor in relation to the complaint.
• Where the complaint relates to a contractual dispute between the organisation and an employee or employees.
• Where the complainant before enrolment has failed, without good reason, to establish that the content of a course is of value to him or her and that the awarding body is appropriately recognised.

BAC cannot enforce an accredited organisation to make any financial recompense to a
complainant, even if BAC upholds a complaint against an organisation.

Other complaints against an organisation
BAC will carry out an investigation where a statutory body shares evidence or intelligence that a BAC- accredited organisation is breaching legal requirements. Under these circumstances, the statutory body will be informed of the outcome of BAC’s investigation of the complaint.

No formal complaints procedure is available to any other complainant, but BAC may choose to carry out its own investigation of accredited organisations if it receives any evidence or intelligence of a failure to meet the standards required for accreditation or of a breach of other BAC regulations.

Complaints against BAC
BAC is committed to working in an open, transparent, and accountable way, which includes responding positively to complaints from organisations by investigating them thoroughly and, where appropriate and possible, correcting any mistakes identified.

Complaints about inspections or inspectors
An inspection evaluation questionnaire is emailed to the organisation when inspections are arranged. Please use this to submit any feedback (positive or negative) you may have about the inspectors or the conduct of the inspection.
If an organisation wishes to raise a complaint regarding an inspection or an inspector, this should be detailed in the feedback form and submitted to BAC within ten working days of the end of the inspection.

The complaint will be reviewed by the Chief Inspector, who may contact the complaining organisation if further information is required.

The Chief Inspector will contact the lead inspector for their feedback. The inspector will have ten working days to respond.

The Chief Inspector will make a decision on the complaint and any follow-up action, if
necessary, within ten working days of receiving the lead inspector’s feedback.
The complaining organisation will be notified of the Chief Inspector’s decision and any follow-up action within ten working days of the Chief Inspector’s decision.

Complaints about BAC staff.
The roles and responsibilities of BAC staff are fully addressed in their training programmes. Staff are made aware of what is expected of them, both in the content of their work and in the way they carry it out. BAC takes seriously its duty to prepare inspectors and staff to do their work effectively, professionally, and with due courtesy and regard to the organisation and its staff. In turn, BAC expects organisations to treat inspectors and staff with the respect, courtesy, and professionalism necessary for a successful inspection. However, BAC recognises that there may be occasions when organisations wish to complain about the conduct, behaviour, and actions of BAC, its staff, or its agents in relation to the published purposes, procedures, criteria, methods, and protocols associated with its accreditation schemes. Complaints such as these should be sent to the Chief Executive. A member of BAC staff may contact the organisation to investigate any negative feedback.

ComplaInts about BAC accreditation schemes.
These will be considered by the Accreditation Committee. Complaints such as these should be submitted in writing to the Chair. Complainants will be informed of the Accreditation Commitee’s response to their complaint by its Chair within ten working days of the meeting.