Resolution of Learner Complaints

Approval Date
12 April 2022
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
30 December 2022
Te Kahāpai
Baldrige Criteria
Customer focus

Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd) has a strong commitment to ensuring that learner concerns/complaints are resolved quickly and at the lowest possible level, and in accordance with principles of natural justice which ensures a fair hearing for all concerned e.g., the complainant and the subject of the complaint 

Consistent with its learner-centred approach and focus on quality Otago Polytechnic Ltd in investigating and addressing concerns/complaints will not discriminate on the grounds of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, religious or ethical beliefs, or political opinions.  This includes providing a process that is culturally appropriate and gives effect to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi).


Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021

Ombudsmen Act 1975

Privacy Act 2020

Human Rights Act 1993

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) rules and guidelines

Education and Training Act 2020 

Education and Training Amendment Act 2021

Official Information Act: In December 2016, the Chief Ombudsman advised entities covered by the Official Information Act and related legislation that his office had decided to publish six-monthly reports on official information complaints received by his office and the outcomes of their investigations. 

Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga matches the Ombudsman and publishes six-monthly reports on the complaints received at an executive level. 

See latest report here >

  1. The Chief Executive delegates the investigation of all learner concerns/complaints directly to the Te Kaihāpai.
  2. This policy excludes matters that are covered by other Otago Polytechnic Ltd policies, in particular the Academic Appeal Process for Learners Policy,  Learner Discipline Policy (including complaints made by staff about learners), and Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Management Policy.
  3. Complaints made by learners about the performance or conduct of a staff member are logged by the Te Kaihāpai but are investigated by People, Culture, and Safety. Refer to the process flowchart in Appendix 1. The Otago Polytechnic Ltd Board handles any complaint made against the Chief Executive.

       NB: Complaints made by staff about staff are handled by People and Culture according to standard management procedures.

  1. Otago Polytechnic Ltd reserves the right not to take action related to anonymous complaints based on hearsay, or if the complainant does not provide sufficient information or the complaint is raised more than ninety (90) calendar days after the alleged incident/problem.
  2. The rights of both the complainant and the respondent are protected by confidentiality with information and details related to the concern/complaint treated on a ‘need to know’ basis in all cases.
  3. All parties will be treated fairly, and have the right to representation, advice, advocacy, and support through all stages of the complaint process. Learners may access support through Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) and Learner Success or by another external party or whanau.
  4. All complaints are treated seriously and with due consideration to the principles of natural justice, inclusiveness, and equity. They will be handled as quickly as possible and according to the most appropriate procedure to ensure academic progress is not impeded. Refer to the process flowchart in Appendix 1.
  5. Where possible the concern/complaint should initially be raised and (hopefully) resolved by the person(s) directly involved (i.e., fellow learner, Lecturer, Head of Discipline, Head of College) as soon as possible after the incident or situation has occurred.
  6. Where a resolution at this level is not possible, or the complainant, and/or respondent, is unable to identify the appropriate person to contact, or lacks the confidence to do so, they may contact the Te Kaihāpai directly or via the Otago Polytechnic Limited Students Association (OPSA).
  7. The Te Kaihāpai will acknowledge receipt of the concern/complaint within three (3) working days. The problem/complaint will be numbered and recorded in the Complaints Register and a meeting with the complainant will be arranged to discuss the concern/complaint and advise the processes involved in the resolution and the timelines involved.
  8. The Te Kaihāpai will liaise with the respondent, and, in the case where the complaint is about a staff member, the respondent's Formal Leader, to investigate the concern/complaint and seek a resolution.
    • 11.1. All relevant documents including a copy of the concern/complaint’s procedures will be circulated to the complainant and respondent at least two full working days prior to any meeting or mediation/conciliation.
    • 11.2. A resolution will be sought as quickly as possible and the complainant, respondent, and Formal Leader (if appropriate) will be advised in writing by the Te Kaihāpai of the outcome. The resolution and any resulting actions will be recorded in the Complaints Register maintained by the Te Kaihāpai.
  9. Otago Polytechnic Ltd will take preventative action where possible to ensure that actions are taken, and process improvements made as necessary to prevent concerns/complaints of the same type from reoccurring.
  1. If the complainant believes the decision is unfair, they may write to the Te Kaihāpai within seven (7) working days of receiving advice of the decision to request a reconsideration of the concern/complaint and outline the reasons for reconsideration.
  2. If necessary, the Te Kaihāpai may ask all parties for additional information or another meeting to further investigate the concern/complaint.
  3. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Te Kaihāpai’s decision, they can request that the Te Kaihāpai review the decision. If the learner remains dissatisfied following this review, they may make a complaint to, the Commerce Commission, the Privacy Commission, or New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), or under section 13(1) of the Ombudsman Act 1975, or take legal action. An international learner who is dissatisfied with the Te Kaihāpai’s decision can contact NZQA or email
  1. The Te Kaihāpai will sign off the actions in the Complaints Register once the matter is concluded.
  2. Using the information in the Register, the Te Kaihāpai shall prepare in February of each year, a summary report of the previous year’s complaints. Copies are to be sent to the Chief Executive and the Otago Polytechnic Ltd Board.
  3. Preventative actions and opportunities for improvement identified as a consequence of complaints and their resolution are implemented and monitored by the Te Kaihāpai for effectiveness.

Approved bymegan gibbons signature

Dr Megan Gibbons

Chief Executive

12 April 2022


POLICY VERSION V6: Previously coded MP0603.

Appendix 1. Resolution of Learner Complaints Flowchart

Click link below to open (downloadable):

Appendix 1. Resolution of Learner Complaints Flowchart