Complaint Resolution for Distance Learners
Our goal is to create collaborative systems and practices that facilitate a positive learning environment in support of each student's degree goals. We strive to ensure each student's experience at WKU, from initial contact through commencement, is both friendly and efficient.
WKU will make every attempt to resolve student complaints within its academic and administrative departments at the program level. We recommend that students first contact the professor for the course. If, after contacting the professor, the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved, the student may call or email WKU Online at 270-745-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org. WKU Online will make every effort to work as a liaison between you and the faculty member to resolve the issue at hand. If you are unsure whom to contact please email WKU Online and a member of the distance learning staff will contact you with additional information, and forward your complaint to the appropriate WKU administrative authority. The official student complaint procedure for resolving a complaint concerning a faculty member is outlined below in four steps. Additional information for distance learners, military personnel, veterans, and family members is also located below.
- Step 1: Faculty Member
- The first step is for the student to discuss the complaint with the faculty member involved. If the faculty member is no longer employed by the University, the student should go directly to the department head who will contact and represent the former faculty member. If the complaint involves a grade, the student must take the complaint to the faculty member within the first two weeks of the first regular semester (fall; spring) following the assignment of the grade. It is hoped that the complaint may be satisfactorily dealt with at this level.
- Step 2: Department Level
- If the student and the faculty member are unable to resolve the complaint, the student may take the complaint to the faculty member's department head. Written notification of the complaint must be given to the department head within two weeks after meeting with faculty member (Step 1). It is the responsibility of the department head to arrange for a conference where the student, faculty member, and the department head will be present for discussion. Neither the faculty member nor the student will be allowed representation at the conference. The department head shall hear both sides of the complaint and shall attempt to mediate a settlement. The department head shall keep a written record of the proceedings, including the recommended solution. The department head's recommended solution is to be considered by both the faculty member and the student as a recommendation and not as a decision that is binding.
- Step 3: College Level
- Should the student be unable to receive the satisfaction desired at the departmental level, the complaint may be taken to the college level. Written notification of the complaint must be submitted to the college dean or his/her designated representative within two weeks after the conference with the department head (Step 2). Upon receipt of the notification, the college dean or his/her representative shall provide the student a copy of the procedural guidelines to be followed by the College Complaint Committee. The procedural guidelines shall provide for a conference with both the student and the faculty member present for joint discussion of the complaint with the Committee.
- Step 4: University Level
- Should the student or faculty member desire to appeal the decision of the College Complaint Committee, a formal written notice of appeal may be submitted to the University Complaint Committee chair, with a copy to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs within two weeks of the decision of the College Complaint Committee. The chair of the University Complaint Committee will provide the student and faculty member involved with a copy of the University Complaint Committee's procedural guidelines. The University Complaint Committee will secure copies of the written proceedings from the department head and the College Complaint Committee. The University Complaint Committee will schedule a conference where the faculty member and the student jointly discuss the issue. Neither the faculty member nor the student will be allowed representation at the conference. The Committee's decision will be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, with a copy being sent as a matter of record to the student, faculty member, faculty member's department head, and the faculty member's college dean. The Office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs will see that decisions of the University Complaint Committee are carried out. The University Complaint Committee's decision is final.
Out of State Distance Learners
Students enrolled in distance learning courses at WKU should attempt to resolve complaints by using the policies and procedures outlined above. Students may also review information in the WKU Student Handbook. However, if the issue cannot be resolved internally, students can file a complaint about the institution with their state of residence by referring to the following list of State Agencies. Additionally, students may file a complaint with WKU's accrediting body, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) by downloading the SACS Complaint Procedures Form (PDF).
Students in Military
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
The GI Bill Feedback System is available for veterans, service members and eligible dependents to report negative experiences with educational institutions receiving GI Bill funding and/or institutions not following the Principles of Excellence. Initially, complaints received through the system will be evaluated by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). If it is determined another government agency is more appropriate, VA will forward accordingly. If the complaint is submitted anonymously, VA will not forward to the school, but instead submit for record with the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel Network.
SFA will provide a response (within 60 days) to VA via email (email@example.com). The response will be on official letterhead and addressed to the complainant. VA will forward the official response to the student to review and determine if the issue was addressed and/or resolved to their satisfaction.
The online complaint form and description of complaint categories may be accessed at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/feedback.asp
U.S. Department of Defense
The Postsecondary Education Complaint System is available for recipients of TA or MyCAA education benefits to report misleading or unfair actions by education institutions. Initially, complaints received through the system will be evaluated by the Department of Defense (DoD). If it is determined another government agency is more appropriate, DoD will forward accordingly.
The online complaint form and description of complaint categories may be accessed at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/voluntary-education?content_id=274604
Additional Information for WKU Students
Student Ombuds Officer
Students may also seek assistance with this process through the Student Ombuds Officer. The purpose of an Ombuds Officer, is to serve as an information source and point of communication for students who believe they may have a personal grievance regarding an alleged violation, misinterpretation or improper application of University policies and procedures, or alleged improper treatment.
Serving as a designated neutral, the Ombuds Officer is neither an advocate for any individual nor for the University; rather, the Ombuds Officer is available to offer an objective perspective on the issues/matters of concern.
The Ombuds Officer's role does not replace existing University policies for academic complaints or conflict/grievance resolution:
- The Ombuds Officer is not designated as, and shall not serve as, an official authorized to receive official notice of any kind on behalf of the University
- Communication with the Ombuds Officer does not roll or extend applicable time periods or deadlines established by other university policies and procedures.
- The Ombuds Officer is independent from existing administrative structures and for the purpose of these duties shall have direct communication as needed with the Provost.
- Students are free to utilize or not to utilize the Ombuds Officer in addressing any issues or concerns.
It is the responsibility of the Ombuds Officer to do the following:
- Provide impartial and confidential consultation to students who have a concern related to a personal grievance regarding an alleged violation, misinterpretation or improper application of University policies and procedures, or alleged improper treatment.
- Explain University policies and procedures as they apply in particular academic situations.
- Work to resolve problems for which no clear procedure exists, and seek alternative means to achieve equitable solutions.
- With inquirer's permission, may consult involved parties to clarify and analyze issues, focus discussions, and offer possible resolution alternatives.
- Refer inquirers to supervisors and/or appropriate University officials who are able to address the matters of concern.
- Maintain the highest levels of professionalism, confidentiality, integrity, and sound judgment, treating all individuals with dignity and respect.
For assistance please call (270) 745-6169.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline is available for anyone suspecting fraud, waste or abuse involving U.S. Department of Education funds. Initially, complaints received through the Hotline will be evaluated internally. Not all complaints filed with OIG will result in an investigation, audit or inspection.
When applicable, OIG will forward the complaint to WKU's Department of Student Financial Assistance (SFA) for further investigation. SFA will review the complaint and if necessary, request additional information from the student.
Most times, SFA will provide in writing an official response to OIG. Occasionally (depending on the nature of the complaint), verbal conversation between SFA and OIG will provide closure and no formal reply will be required. In either case, OIG will follow up with the student regarding the complaint.
- OIG Hotline: 1-800-MIS-USED
- Hardcopy of complaint form and description of applicable complaints available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/hotline.html
U.S. Department of Defense (for recipients of TA or MyCAA)
U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (for veterans, service members, and eligible dependents)