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The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

How to report a problem or issue at university

It’s likely that your university experience will go by without a major problem or issue. If you do have a negative experience though, how do you report it? We take a look at the steps to take in this situation.

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University can be an exciting and very enjoyable experience. As you learn new things, make new friends and get to live on your own, there are so many positives to take away from your time there. 


This is especially the case if you are moving abroad, as you learn about a new culture and really experience what it’s like to live somewhere else. Many postgraduates often say that university was the best time of their life so far and would highly recommend the experience should you be fortunate enough to go. 


Having said that, it can be a bit of a shock when there is an issue at your university that may need reporting. This is because it’s likely not what you expected at all. Hopefully, no such issue arises on your student journey, and in most cases, it shouldn’t, but it’s important to know what to do if you need to report something. 


Here are the steps you should take when reporting a problem/issue at your university. 


1. Understand who is involved 


As you make friends at university, it’s likely that you will build a strong bond and therefore feel somewhat protective of them. So, if something happens to a friend that you feel needs reporting, it’s only natural to want to do it straight away. 


However, if the person involved in that issue isn’t you, it’s important to speak to them first. They may not have felt it was a problem like you did, or might not feel comfortable with reporting it just yet. By speaking with them first, you will get a better understanding of the situation and feel more informed about what to do next. 


If the person involved in the situation is you, then this is, of course, a completely different matter. In this case, it’s about assessing how you feel about the situation and how you want to deal with it. 


Are you more comfortable speaking to just one person? Would you prefer to speak with someone you know or a person higher in the university? Would you like to remain anonymous?  


These are all important questions to ask yourself before you decide to go ahead and report this issue so that you can get the outcome you feel is necessary. 


2. Decide who you want to speak to 


During your time at university, you will cross paths with many staff members while you’re there. Many of these individuals will become quite familiar with you, especially lecturers and tutors that you see on a regular basis.  


In addition to these staff members, there will be several departments that students can visit, each with its own team and service to provide you.


Was the issue you’re reporting in a lecture and therefore you feel the lecturer themselves should know? Perhaps it was a problem on the university campus and you feel the need to take it higher? 


Either way, staff members at the university are used to helping students and dealing with their issues so will be willing to discuss this with you. There may even be other students that have been put in guidance positions to speak with if you really aren’t sure where to go.  


Universities have come on in leaps and bounds when it comes to helping students with any issues they may be facing. From mental health professionals to overall wellbeing teams, there is always somewhere you can go. 


3. Decide how you want to report it  


There are so many methods of communication in the world today and they are truly a benefit in so many ways, especially as a student.  Whether that’s staying in contact with people back home or emailing your lecturers a quick question, there are a number of ways to speak to the people you need to get in contact with.  


This is certainly the case when it comes to raising a problem or issue that has occurred during your time at university and each has its benefits depending on what you are comfortable with. 


If it’s a topic that you aren’t relaxed about speaking to someone face-to-face about, you can contact the relevant person or people via phone call. Similarly, if the problem has a lot of detail to it, putting your report in an email can help you get across what happened. Doing this means you are less likely to forget details as you would through a more natural conversation. 


No matter how you report it, it will be taken seriously and it’s crucial to know that there is always somewhere else to go if, in the rare circumstance, it isn’t. Whether you’ve raised something with a lecturer and felt you weren't listened to or feel that the issue needs to be taken higher, your university will have an official complaints procedure that all students have access to. 


University is often a very enjoyable experience and you will be able to make great memories that will last a lifetime there. There may be times when you have a problem though and it’s important to know that, not only can you report it, but that it will be heard when you do. 


Studying abroad is full of excitement but, like any sort of travel, it’s important to take precautions. Find out more about how to stay safe when studying abroad. 

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