Handling student cases

A university is a place where there are constant encounters between people. For the most part, these take place in a positive way and without causing friction, but it is inevitable that problems will sometimes arise. As staff, we need to know how to act when students are dissatisfied with the handling of an issue and they contact the university.

In many cases, it is a simple misunderstanding or an individual mistake that is easy to rectify. Other times it may be a serious event that requires strong action. Resolving the problem at an early stage reduces the risk of a serious conflict arising.

Responsibility for the handling of student cases

Different laws and rules apply to different types of student cases, which in turn determine which actions may be required of a given member of staff at the university. Responsibility for the decisions made and actions taken with regard to student cases lies, in ascending order, with the heads of the departments, the deans of the faculties, and the Vice-Chancellor.

If a student case arises for any reason, it is therefore in the first instance the responsibility of the head of department to take action. A head of department may delegate this task, but not the responsibility, to a director of studies, for example.

Read more about the procedure for handling a student case and what support functions are available in the brochure "Dissatisfied student? General guidance on the handling of student cases" (in Swedish only). Also make sure you are up to date on the laws and regulations that govern teaching.

Categories of different types of student cases

Below is a description of different types of problem areas that can be defined as student cases. Some cases are complex and may come under several categories.

Problem area


Breach of rules When a teacher, other staff member or a student has acted in contravention of the applicable regulations, such as the Higher Education Act, Higher Education Ordinance, or the rules established at Umeå University (Vice-Chancellor's decision).
Information problem A conflict between the student(s) and the teacher created as a result of students being provided with unclear information that can be interpreted in several ways, or when a teacher has other communication problems with regard to students. In some cases, the late provision of information can come under this category.
Poor treatment

Treatment which a student perceives to be careless, derogatory or offensive (serious violations must always be investigated).

Lack of education quality The content of the examination is not consistent with the intended learning outcomes presented in the course syllabus. The examination formats are not of the quality required for the validity of the examination to be satisfactory. The quality of teaching is inadequate. The teachers' language skills are inadequate. The premises are not suitable for the provision of effective teaching.
Lack of administration (General Administrative Law) Exam answers or written assignments are handled improperly or assessed arbitrarily. An application for credit transfer is rejected without reason.

Lack of student influence

The student representatives are not given an opportunity to voice their opinions on decisions that affect their education.
Annica Höglund