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Student Complaints

If you are not happy with something related to your English language studies, or experiences at INTO USF, and you cannot resolve it on your own, please come and see us!

1. Complaints about classes or teachers

Step 1.  Talk to your teacher first

First, the student should meet with the instructor to talk about the problem.  Teachers in America want to know what they can do to improve their classes. Teachers DO NOT think it is disrepectful to get feedback or suggestions from students.  Often if a student complains about a teacher's class and does not talk to the teacher first, the U.S. teacher may feel bad.  So, please talk to your teacher first.  A polite way to do this is to say, "Excuse me teacher, would it be OK for me to give you a few suggestions that I think will help my learning in your class?" 

Common Concerns
Some students have concerns about their classes that may be connected to cultural differences between their home country and the USA. You can talk to an advisor about these concerns, but they might not be considered complaints in American culture.

 Student Concern
 Our Response    
 What to Do
 "I have studied English in other programs, and I should be in a higher level." All programs are different. Some programs have four levels, while others have 12 levels.  In our program, we give you a computer-based test to assess your level. We also give you a writing test.  We use the results of these two tests to place your in the correct level.  We also ask your teachers to observe you during the first week of classes in case you are not in the correct level.We ask that you trust our placement process.  We think it is highly reliable.  If you have been misplaced, your teachers will be able to determine this during the first week of classes. They will give you things to do in class for you to demonstrate your language ability. If you are not in the right level, we will make a change.  
 "My teacher talks too fast"    
 This may be something the teacher does not realize is happening.    
 Please talk to your teacher to ask him/her to speak more slowly. "Teacher, could you please talk more slowly."
 "My teacher has an accent. I can't understand him/her."
 In America, we think it is good for you to listen to a variety of accents in English to improve your language ability.  Our country values diversity and different accents are part of our multiculturalism.  
 Please go back to class and wait one or two weeks. Most students find out that after one or two weeks they can adjust to listening to their teacher's accent, and by midterm they do not think the accent is a problem anymore.                                                                    
 "My teacher is not from the United States."     You will find that in our program our teachers come from many different countries. This is something we value  highly. The United States is a very diverse country and people have different backgrounds, and our faculty reflects this. The diverse experience that our teachers bring to the classroom enriches your learning experience.   In the classroom, be open to the diversity of experience that our faculty brings.     
 "There is too much group work in class."                 We think that learning from one another is important. This is why in class your teachers will often ask you to work with others in small groups.  This will help you improve your English language skills as you will be actively practicing what you have learned. Also, other students are a rich source of knowledge and working in groups will help you share your each other's experience. Trust your teacher in the classroom. Your teacher likely uses individual and group work in the classroom.      
 "I was sick and my teacher still marked me absent." In our program, full-time students in Academic English have 36 hours of absences that they can use for times when they cannot come to class for any reason.  General English students have 14 hours.  We do not give you any additional hours beyond these hours. Be mindful of your absences.Think of your allowed number of absences as a bank account.  Use these hours wisely and save them for those times when you will really need them: When you are sick, family/friends come to visit, or when you have to take a test like the TOEFL, GRE, or GMAT.  Your teacher will mark you absent even if you have a doctor's note.  This is our policy.    
 "I am not comfortable with my teacher, and I want to change him or her."Our teachers are all different. They have unique personalities and their own ways of doing things.  We believe that it is important for you to get used to different teachers as this is what you will encounter once you go to university.  Ask yourself why you are not comfortable with a particular teacher.  Is it because your personality is different from his or hers? For instance, your teacher may be strict about attendance, while you are someone who has a more relaxed sense of time.  Learning how to work with someone whose approach is different from yours will help you in the future.  

Step 2.  Talk to and ELP Academic Advisor (Michael Harper or Alberto Angulo)

If you talk to your teacher and you feel that your problem still exists, you should request a meeting with the Academic Advisor. A student can explain the situation fully at this time, and the Academic Advisor will take confidential notes on the situation.  If the situation is related to student services, the Academic Advisor will refer the student to the appropriate Student Services staff member.  If the situation is a personal issue that cannot be assisted by the Academic Advisor, the student may be referred to the Student Services Care and Conduct Coordinator, Brian Goercke in FAO114 or to the USF counseling center.
The Academic Advisor will follow up with the necessary individuals to investigate the complaint and document the resolution in the personal advising comments in the student's digital GradesFirst record.

Step 3.  Write a formal complaint to the ELP Director (Michelle Bell - FAO 189)
For complaints involving: Academic English, General English, EAP/ITA classes, or short-term programs

If a problem in an ELP class is not resolved to the student or teacher's satisfaction after they have talked to our advisors (student) or faculty coordinators (teacher), a formal complaint may be written.  A formal complaint must be written in English by the person making the complaint. The formal complaint should be written as a letter on paper (no emails).  In a formal complaint the
person should answer the following questions for the ELP Director:
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the names of the people in the English Language Program who are involved in this problem?
  • What has been done so far to fix the problem?
  • What you want to happen to solve the problem?
The formal complaint will go to the ELP Director, who will meet with the person/people who wrote the complaint.  The ELP Director will investigate what has occurred and will talk to all people involved. The ELP Director will make a final decision on how the complaint should be handled. A letter or email will be written with a description of the resolution and it will be disseminated to all people involved in making the complaint.  In the case of a formal complaint involving a faculty member, the written complaint, faculty response, and resolution are kept in the instructor’s faculty file.  In the case of a formal complaint involving a student, the written complaint, student response, and resolution are uploaded to the student’s digital record in Grades First.

Other Types of Complaints

1. Complaint related to Enrollment, Finance, or Student Services (Immigration, housing, finance, health and wellness, student activities)

If you have a complaint about these offices, please speak with a staff member in that office or request to speak to an area manager/director.

2. . Academic Grievance at USF: If you feel a professor has broken a written policy at USF you can file an academic grievance.  You must be able to give the name/number of the USF policy that is broken. See this document:

3. Diversity Complaint at USF:

The University of South Florida (USF) is a diverse community that values and expects respect and fair treatment of all people. USF strives to provide a work and study environment for faculty, staff and students that is free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, marital status, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information, as provided by law. USF protects its faculty, staff, and students from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.

For USF's full statement on diversity, please visit this page. For a detailed description of USF's complaint process for diversity-related issues, please visit this page.

4. Student Code of Conduct (Complaint against another student)

If you have a complaint about the behavior of another student, you may file a complaint with the USF Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. For a detailed description of USF's complaint process for code of conduct issues, please visit this page.

5. Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA)

Students have the right to file a complaint about a program or services offered as part of the English Language Program with the program's accrediting body. The English Language Program at USF is accredited by the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA).  Instructions on how to file a complaint against a CEA accredited school can be found on this page.