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A student complaint is any type of problem, concern or grievance about your studies, student life, the University, or the University environment.

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Charles Darwin University provides a high-quality learning, teaching, and research environment that promotes respect, safety, and embraces diversity. However, we recognise that from time to time, problems, misunderstandings, or issues may arise and we want to make sure those issues are managed in a fair, transparent, and timely manner. Anything that negatively affects your studies or experience at University can be raised as a complaint. This includes concerns about your studies, student life, the University, or the University environment.

We have a dedicated Complaints team to help you navigate the processes and ensure that your complaint is appropriately referred to the relevant decision-maker. 

We take complaints seriously and aim to provide an environment where students are free to study without being subjected to behaviour that may constitute discrimination, harassment, or victimisation.

Student Complaints

The Student Complaint Policy is an all-in-one policy, which means that all complaint types are covered in this document. This includes complaints about:

    Academic matters
    • the content, design, or delivery of an academic program
    • clarity of an assessment item
    • CDU equipment, facilities, or resources
    • feedback provided by academic staff.
    Non-academic matters

    For example, the quality or delivery of a CDU service or facility.

    Unfair treatment

    Treatment by a member of the CDU community that occurs via any medium. Note that complaints about the conduct of a person may be managed under the provisions of the Staff Code of Conduct, Student Code of Conduct, or the Student Academic Integrity Policy.

    Members of the CDU community includes:

    • students
    • staff
    • contractors or visitors to the University.

    The policy does not cover

    • decisions made under another CDU policy where that decision is stipulated as final, or where that policy provides an avenue for a review of those decisions
    • research integrity, including research ethics and the welfare of research subjects, managed under CDU’s research policies
    • sexual harassment or sexual assault, as this is covered by the Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy
    • the conduct of a staff member in a partner organisation (for example a placement provider). Students will instead be supported to make a complaint to the third party for resolution and CDU may still choose to act, including changing or terminating the relationship.

    Complaint process

    Local resolution

    We encourage you to try to resolve your complaint locally. This means that you can contact the person who has made the decision you disagree with to see if you can find a resolution. For example, if your concern is about a grade or assignment, you can talk to your Lecturer or Unit Coordinator, or if you have concerns about your fees, you can contact the Student Finance team.

    Complaints that are raised quickly (within 10 working days) and locally often have a good chance of resolution and can also result in immediate improvements in the local area.

    If you have any questions about how to resolve your complaint locally, you are welcome to contact the Student Complaints team.

    We understand that there are times when attempting to resolve a complaint locally is not appropriate. Therefore, you do not have to go through this stage before you can submit a formal complaint.

    Formal complaint

    We encourage you to resolve your concerns locally, but you are not required to do so. For more information about local resolution, click on the ‘Local Resolution’ tab.

    If you proceed with a formal complaint, you must do this within 20 working days from when you got the outcome of the local resolution or, if you chose not to attempt local resolution, within 20 working days of the date of the incident. For example, if you want to complain about an assignment mark, you count 20 working days from the date you received your mark. If you are complaining about an unsuccessful application, you count 20 working days from the date you received the outcome of your application.

    To proceed with a formal complaint, you must complete an online form. Make sure that you provide as much detail as possible and that you attach all relevant documentation. This can include:

    • Email correspondence with the person who made the decision/provided the service that you would like to complain about. Do not upload screenshots of emails. You can either upload the emails as a .msg or you can save the emails as a .pdf and upload as documentation.
    • Assessment/s
    • Unit Outlines
    • Feedback
    • Medical certificates
    • A Statutory Declaration. Find out more from the Northern Territory Government. For other states and territories, please consult your relevant government processes.  

    Once you have submitted the form, we will assess your case, and we may ask you for more information before referring your complaint to the relevant decision-maker. We will let you know once your case has been sent to the decision-maker.

    The decision-maker has 10 working days to provide you with a written outcome. Sometimes they may need extra time; if this happens, you will be advised.


    If your complaint is unsuccessful, you can appeal the decision to the Student Appeals Committee.

    The Student Appeals Committee can only consider an appeal of the formal complaint outcome, on the following grounds:

    • Lack of Procedural fairness;
    • Additional information/evidence that is available now, but was not reasonably available at the time of the formal complaint submission; and/or
    • Manifestly unjust decision.

    If you believe you have grounds for appeal, please complete the Student Appeal Form. Make sure you download the form to your device, and that you include your name in the document title. Once you have done this, attach the form to an email and send it to

    You must submit your appeal within 20 working days of receiving the formal complaint outcome.

    When you make a complaint, you can expect

    No disadvantage

    You will not face disadvantage or a direct financial cost.

    Access to support

    You can involve a support person (someone who can attend meetings with you) at any stage of the complaints process. You can access student support or advocacy services. All parties can seek advice from the Complaints Team about the complaint processes.

    The right to stop the process

    You can withdraw a complaint at any time. In exceptional circumstances, we may decide to continue an investigation without further involvement from you.

    The right to appeal

    You can appeal an outcome and/or refer a complaint to an external agency.


    You may lodge a complaint anonymously, noting that this might limit our ability to investigate or resolve your complaint.

    The University may conduct its own investigation based on information it receives, even if a complaint has not been submitted, or has been withdrawn.

    Any student who lodges a frivolous, vexatious, or deliberately misleading complaint will have their complaint dismissed and may be subject to disciplinary procedures under the Student Code of Conduct.


    CDU has a 3-step approach to resolving student complaints:

    1. Local Resolution
    2. Formal Complaint
    3. Appeal

    Complaint or appeal outcomes will be evidence-based and consider the desired outcome of the complainant. There may be a wide range of outcomes appropriate for a complaint or appeal, including but not limited to:

    • upholding of an original decision, or a change to a decision
    • resolution reached by mediation, which may include an apology
    • a commitment by the University to improve existing services or processes
    • penalties applied under related policies, including the Student Code of Conduct
    • provision of training or education for relevant parties
    • a change in the provision of a unit or short course, including updated resources, redesigned assessment items, refreshed content or alternate teaching methodologies
    • other actions appropriate in staff or student disciplinary or misconduct cases.
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