...with your lecturer
...with your course
...with personal stuff affecting your course work

While every College has its own set of procedures for dealing with issues when things go wrong, there are a couple of basic paths that you can follow to help you resolve a problem that you might face while in College. This section won't give you the information to solve every problem, what it will do, is give you the tools to put you on the way to solving the problem yourself.

Tip 1: Don't go nuclear!

So you have a problem that needs solving. Don't send a letter to the President of the college and expect him to solve it as a first step. You are an important member of the college community but he?s got a lot of people to look after. More than likely you can get a problem solved much further down the college 'food chain' and you won't have pi*%$d anyone off doing so. The thing to remember is to progress your issue one step at a time.

In the worst case scenario, when you've been struggling for a long time, you might have no choice but to bring the issue right to the top. Just make sure you took all the steps in between first and it will help your case.

Tip 2: Talk to Your Students' Union

There are generally two types of Students' Union, good ones and bad ones! The thing is, they're only as good as the people you elect to do the job. Whatever your opinion on them is, they definitely have the inside knowledge on what's going on in your college. One of the main roles of the Students' Union is the referral of students with problems to someone in the college (or outside it) that can help you. They know who?s good at solving problems, who's a friend to the students and who to avoid like the plague.

Tip 3: Write it all Down

Whatever type of issue you are having, its good to right it all down. Once you've written it down read back over it to make sure it would make sense to a stranger, that you've taken as much emotion out of it as possible and you haven't rambled too much. The reason you should do all this, is so that whoever you do bring your issue to will have an easier time understanding where you?re coming from. It can be hard to understand people when they're upset. It's also good to have as hard evidence to show that you did try to get a resolve of the issue.

Tip 4: Get it in Writing

Evidence is your best friend. I'm not talking about taking a minor issue to a legal level straight away. What I'm saying is, it's very hard to prove anything in a 'he said/ she said' situation. Therefore it's wise to get emails from people, save them and print them out to accompany your pages you've written describing the problem.

Tip 5: Start at the Beginning

The first person you should talk to about a problem is the person you are having the problem with. It might sound difficult but it's all about the approach. Negotiation is an art. Approach the person calmly. Explain your issue rationally (maybe using your notes prepared earlier). Suggest a resolution, if you have one. At all times treat the person with respect. It will do you no favours later on, if it is found out that you were rude and aggressive to others, even if you are right! There is always a possibility that it could be a mix up and now you've brought it to their attention it will be solved.
If you are finding it too difficult to approach the individual involved you might use an intermediary. This person can be a trusted friend who's a dab hand at negotiation or you could ask the Students' Union because that's what they do.

Tip 6: Where to go Next

Your college has lots of services that can help you with personal and academic issues. You've paid for them, so use them. They include: Access (to Education) Office, Careers Service, Chaplaincy, Counselling, Disability Service, Health Service, International Student Office and Student Services.

If it's an academic problem the hierarchy is (mostly) the following: Lecturer, Course Coordinator (or Head), Department (or School), Faculty (or College or School), Academic Council.

Some colleges have an elected Class Representative sitting on their Course Committee where timetables, modules and changes are agreed between the lecturers that deliver the course. This is a position of real power for a student representative and you should ask them (the Class Rep) to raise any issues with your course at this forum. If it's an issue that effects the whole class, like your timetable, make sure all the class is consulted before changes are made.

Some colleges have Staff-Student Liaison Committees which have less power and are more about consulting the students. They can however be equally effective if used in the right way.

Hope this helped. GOOD LUCK!