You may have gleaned from the previous posts that I dont back down easily. Maybe it’s because I’m old and bloody minded but I have developed a defence mechanism where the more something annoys me, angers me or overwhelms me; the harder I fight.
So to say that I put in an official complaint will not supprise you at all.
The conduct of the university might do.
I ended up putting in two complaints. The first about the deplorable system which I have covered in “beaten by bureaucracy part 2”
The second was about something which on the surface may seem a little thing. Yet the journey I’ve had with it highlights the battles other autistic students are facing
After nagging the university finance department for many many months to provide me with an invoice so I could pay them. They finally got back to me with an invoice for the full time course.
I’m doing the part time course.
I asked them kindly to sort it out and was rewarded with another version of the full time invoice with credit notes against some bits. Modules I havent even done charged at full rate. The final total wrong by many of hundreds of pounds.
I asked again and again for a proper invoice for the product I had ordered from the university with the correct details and items.
It might seem petty to some however I have good reason to put my foot down.
1. I have a student loan which I will need to apply for next year should I continue. Having been invoiced for full time course could lead to huge delays and investigations as the student loans company tries to ascertain if I’m trying to con them.
2. If they have already billed me for the entire course, how are they going to bill me next year?
3. They them selves would not accept an invoice like that. Who would accept an invoice for a product othervthen the one they have purchased? It may cause unknown problems down the line.
So as the school year came to a close I put in an official complaint.
The university has three complaint stages. The first is with the department in question., ( in this case the finance department,) the second goes to the university complaints process, and the third goes to the university board.
The finance dept very quickly washed their hands of the whole thing. Claiming there was nothing they could do. Something I’m sure every person here recognizes as being a lie.
The second stage people seemed very understanding and within a week or two I had there final outcome saying the problem had been fixed. Sure enough there was a new invoice in my email. Sure enough it was the same full time one, it now had lots more bewildering credit notes and adjustments all undocumented. But the final figure was at least correct.
Now throughout this time I had been paying into my student account and at this point I had 160 odd pounds left to pay.
I asked the complaints department how on earth they could call it fixed and that none of the notes or adjustments were explained.
The reply was that there was nothing else to be done. They also sent me this.
This is, according to them, a full explenation.
My reply to was that it was a calculation not an explenation and that I still expected my full and correct invoice.
I was told that that they couldnt do more and it would have to go to stage three.
In the real world the uni year was over. I got married on june 1st and all the time I had the stress of this and the other more serious complaint hanging over me. Around the 9th of june I told them to please put it into stage three. I also informed them that i would not be paying the last 168 pounds until I had a correct invoice and I was more than happy to go before a judge and state my position.
On the 10th of june they confirmed that the complaint process was in stage 3.
On the 17th of june I recieved the correct invoice at last and paid the same day.
And here is where for me it gets insidious.
The next day I recieved a mail “checking that I was happy with the resolution and it didnt need to go to stage 3…”
I pointed out that it was already in stage three and then got a long list of reasons why it shouldnt go to stage three. Totaly ignoring the fact that it was already in stage 3.
IS THIS WHAT THEY DO?
NOTHING BUT FLUFF IN THE HOPES THAT A STUDENT GIVES UP?
ONLY IF YOU MAKE IT TO STAGE 3 DO THEY SUDDENLY DO WHAT THEY COULD JUST AS EASILY HAVE DONE 6 MONTHS AGO?
THEN TRY TO CONVINCE YOU ITS STILL STAGE 2 SO AS TO KEEP THEIR RECORDS LOOKING “STUDENT FRIENDLY?”
The other complaint. The IMPORTANT complaint is still in stage 2. Stage one ended with lies which I pulled apart. I dont intend to give in. I have had to fight this university’s total mess of a back office since day one.
My tutors have been lovely. The course they have wrote I have loved. My final peice for this year got a 68 which was great. Still a pass with credit and one of the hardest things I’ve ever has to do. ( it involved real world academic… things… urgh)
I want to finish this course under these tutors. But I wish I could do so at a different university.
But what worries me is how many people on the autistic spectrum and off it cannot cope with the huge wight and stress these policies put on them. How many times have people who’s talents dwarf my own quit because making it through the complaints process is to dificult.
I’m in my late 40s I have built up my strength over many years facing adversity. Could I have coped with this in my late teens or early twentys? I think not. I would have quit.
The university bill you the same pass or fail. But they would much rather your record says you jumped rather than the truth, that they pushed you.