University Student Complaints Mediation

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Student Complaints Mediation

CAOS Conflict Management provides University Student Complaints Mediation for Universities in the UK.

We also provide mediation in University staff workplace difficulties as well as support, training and consultancy for Universities wishing to set up their own mediation provision.

"This was one of the best quality training experiences I have had over the past 35 years."

"In my 20 years experience as an academic this is the best ‘in-service’ training I have experienced. The quality of the training team’s preparation and the skill with which they conducted the course was impressive."

"This was not an easy course; the challenges involved in working outside one’s usual mode of operation were considerable, but the upbeat attitude of the trainers and the calm and supportive atmosphere they created meant that I was free to work outside my comfort zone in developing an approach to assisting others deal with their own situations."

Click here to read the testimonials from University staff members who made these comments after attending our training.

Universities We Work With:

Brunel University in West London.....

CAOS Conflict Management provides the following services to Brunel University:

  • Mediation
  • Mediator training for the University Student Complaints Mediation Service and ongoing support and CPD
  • Conflict Coaching training - Brunel Mediators trained to provide 1-to-1 support for staff and students who are experience some form of University related unresolved conflict.
  • Conflict Management Training for staff and team managers



University of Plymouth in Devon, South West England.

CAOS Conflict Management helped University of Plymouth to set up a University Student Complaints Mediation service, providing Mediator Training and CPD as well as consultancy support regarding appropriate management of the service.


CAOS Conflict Management provides mediation in staff workplace disputes for The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) which is part of the University of London.


Alan Sharland, Director of CAOS Conflict Management has provided Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills lecture/workshops for the Consultancy Practice Undergraduate course at Kingston University.


Why Use University Student Complaints Mediation?

A feature of many universities' student complaints procedures is that they are very bureaucratic, for both staff processing a complaint and students who make a complaint and so can take a long time to reach an outcome. As a result they can be daunting and frustrating for all involved, both staff and students.

Such procedures are also adversarial in that 'supporting evidence' and counter evidence is sought via investigations into the 'facts'.

So How Can University Student Complaints Mediation Help?

University Student Complaints Mediation offers a less formal route to resolving student complaints and can be set in motion very quickly with minimal paperwork being required throughout the process. The participants in the process are treated impartially rather than as 'adversaries' and the mediators assist all involved in finding a way forward rather than represent either party.

The procedure of University Student Complaints Mediation is as follows:

1. The mediators have an 'Initial Meeting' with the student who has made the complaint to hear their view of the situation, explain to them more about what mediation involves and what their role is within the process. Finally, the mediators help the student to think of ways of resolving the situation and ways of supporting themselves within the situation that don't rely on a face-to-face meeting occurring, so that resolution is not seen to 'depend' on a face to face meeting.

Would you like a leaflet about the benefits of introducing Mediation into a University community?
Click here to download a leaflet about this and how CAOS Conflict Management can help you with it.

2. The mediators offer an Initial Meeting to the staff member the student would like mediation with. This may or may not be the person about whom they have complained. They may, instead, be someone the student has identified who they feel could assist in the resolution of their complaint and they would like to meet with to seek their assistance in doing so. The mediators would do the same in this meeting as they did in their meeting with the student, that is: hear their view of the situation, explain more about what mediation is and their role as mediators, and explore ways in which the situation could be resolved irrespective of whether a face to face meeting occurs or not.

3. If there is agreement by both/all participants to meet in a face to face meeting, this is then facilitated by the mediators. The aim within any such meeting is to support all participants in finding a way of resolving the complaint in whatever way they define that and which they can fulfill.

The lack of 'preconception' about what a resolution should be is what enables the outcomes of mediation to be innovative and creative.

Frequently, university student complaints mediation provides a learning opportunity for the University that can influence policies and procedures for the better.

(The term mediators is used rather than mediator as the process is usually carried out by two co-mediators, however this is not essential.)

Are you interested in finding out more about University Student Complaints Mediation for your University?

Please CONTACT CAOS if you are involved in managing student complaints at a university or in a similar context and would be interested in finding out more about how university student complaints mediation can help in such situations.

As can be seen from the comments below, training to be a Mediator can also provide a fulfilling staff development function.....

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Testimonials from University staff members who we have trained to provide University Student Complaints Mediation:

"I approached Mediation training with ambivalent feelings – I have often found staff development training at the university to be of limited use, however I hoped that this time things would be different. It was; this six day course was a revelation. On the first day I came to appreciate how far-reaching a mediator’s approach to dealing with conflict could be.

The trainers were extremely well organised and each day there was a careful balance of activities which progressively built on the previous session’s work. The sessions varied, but they were characterised by intensity, warmth and at times, a good deal of laughter. This was not an easy course; the challenges involved in working outside one’s usual mode of operation were considerable, but the upbeat attitude of the trainers and the calm and supportive atmosphere they created meant that I was free to work outside my comfort zone in developing an approach to assisting others deal with their own situations.

In addition, I was also able to make discoveries about my own attitude to conflict. While my primary goal in undertaking this training was to gain the credentials to be a university mediator, the impact this training has had on other aspects of my professional and personal life have been huge. Conflict is inevitable, it is something we encounter regularly, if not every day. I have often wished I had better strategies for dealing with situations of conflict even when this conflict might be considered relatively minor.

In a university setting there are rarely objective and constructive opportunities to reflect on how to manage challenging situations, I see this course as the first step in developing a much more productive and generative approach to dealing with conflict.

I highly recommend mediation training to anyone who wishes to gain an insight into conflict and ways of enabling individuals in situations of conflict find meaningful resolution for themselves. In the process, you might just find your own approaches to dealing with personal and professional conflict are re-evaluated and consequently enhanced."

Dr Mary Richards - Subject Leader for Drama, Brunel University

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"In my 20 years experience as an academic this is the best ‘in-service’ training I have experienced. The quality of the training team’s preparation and the skill with which they conducted the course was impressive.

During the six days we were taken through a rigorous programme of discussion, theory-based handouts and in-role work to develop a coherent understanding of the mediation model they use in their own practice.

The key skills of listening, summarising and questioning were all explored and practiced in a lively and engaging way. I thought I was a good listener until I did this course! The outcomes achieved during, and as a result of, the training have been significant for my own work and my dealings with students and staff on a day to day basis.

I have found myself drawing on the work we did in the workshops almost every day. The techniques we were helped to develop have proved invaluable in seminars, practical classes and lectures.

I thought I was going to learn about mediation as a separate and distinct mode of operation. Instead the whole process has challenged my most basic interactions with people for the better."

Dr Meretta Elliott, Senior Lecturer, Deputy Head – Undergraduate Studies - School of Arts, Brunel University

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"The course was very well run both trainers are clearly very experienced as trainers and as mediators. They covered all aspects of mediation in a very trainee friendly manner adapting their examples of case studies to apply to a university setting. The importance of preparation and debrief was developed through well directed experiential learning.

Each stage of the mediation process was clearly explored with room to question anything that was not understood. A clear set of guidelines combined with good humour made the whole experience very enjoyable.

I found myself able to confidently carry out my first mediation case.

As an experienced counsellor I found it very useful when doing couples work. It also served as a refresher course on how to be impartial and help two parties to bring their hostilities to an end, even if there is no actual solution.

This was one of the best quality training experiences I have had over the past 35 years."

Peter J Eldrid - Deputy Head of Counselling Service, Brunel University

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CAOS Conflict Management:
Working With Universities To Develop Their Use of Mediation

Click here to download a leaflet about the benefits of introducing Mediation into a University community and how CAOS Conflict Management can help with that.


‘Mediation awareness’ is growing, but there is still a surprising amount of ignorance about mediation in HEIs. It is often being introduced with other forms of ‘alternative dispute resolution’ where it has a local ‘champion’, someone who has realized its potential advantages. This can mean that, for example, only HR or Personnel or only Student Services have introduced such provision and the HEI as a whole has not yet become aware of its possibilities. G.R.Evans Project Leader August 2009

From WORKING WITH HEIs TO DEVELOP MEDIATION TRAINING a project report created by Improving Dispute Resolution - Transforming Policy and Practice in Dispute Resolution in HEIs


National Union of Students - Review of Institutional Complaints and Appeals Procedures in England and Wales 2009

RECOMMENDATION 6: Institutions investigate the use of mediation as part of their procedures.

"It is likely that greater use of mediation in student complaints would result in better outcomes for both parties. It may not work in every case where relations between individuals have broken down irrevocably but would be a good starting point in most cases. Although, it can also mend broken relations in some cases." - page 18 of the Review.


If you are from a University or other HEI and would like assistance in integrating mediation into your complaints procedure or more widely within your Institution, please contact CAOS Conflict Management on:

020 3371 7507
to discuss your interest.



We also provide Conflict Management Training for University staff including 'Managing Conflict in Teams' for Managers, Heads of Department, Administration Team Managers, Team Members etc.

Click here for more information about this training.