January 26, 2012 6:53 AM Subscribe
How I effectively complain to my university administration/international program about a totally incompetent study abroad adviser?
posted by snowysoul to Education (8 answers total)
I'm studying abroad on exchange in Europe from my university in Canada, and have become increasingly frustrated with the (only) study abroad adviser at the university. She (let's call her Kim for the purpose of my question) has been, in my opinion, extremely unprofessional, unresponsive in her job to support students abroad at my university.
I'm taking a bit of a unique study program while abroad (master's courses that will count towards my undergad) and have needed more clarification and support to make sure my credit transfer works out for my degree. Fair enough that I'm a bit more complicated than normal. Kim is the first person I'm supposed to talk to about ANYTHING course related or if I want to make changes.
Problem: I am having an impossible time getting the support and confirmation that I need regarding my study plan while overseas, to the point where it may impact my ability to graduate on time in the fall. Multiple emails I send her go unanswered, voice mails are not returned. It takes weeks or months to get a hold of her, and then my questions are not adequately addressed or outright ignored. I've been patient, and tried to be understanding. At this point, I'm doing most of the work (contacting people, paperwork, research, confirming things) myself. My main problem is that this was outlined to me in my study abroad contract as HER job, which I payed $350 as a placement fee for support from this person, which I feel I am failing to get.
I'm at a loss for what to do next. I need paperwork sorted for the university here by tomorrow. I sent it to Kim a month ago with adequate warning about what it would mean for me, and that I needed it done. It requires a signature, and phone call to confirm things (which I can't do). Without this paperwork to take an extra class into overload here this semester, I will not be able to graduate as I planned in September and will be stuck coming back to the university in the fall for ONE CLASS (costing me $1200 for the credit. I can take it here in Norway for free). I've left 3 emails, two voice mails in the past week alone, and am angry about the lack of response on this. I think I might have managed to figure it out today from the university here, but am really frustrated with it all and this is the icing on the cake.
So question, I want to complain. Loud and clear that I am unhappy and want at least my emails addressed and returned!! However, I have no idea how to do this in an effective manner. Should I write the department a letter? Complain to Kim first? Her boss? What would be the proper chain of complaint here? I'm generally a polite person who doesn't like to complain because of my anxiety. Would you say doing something in this situation is warranted? Or am I overacting for what it is? Advice is much appreciated!!