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Service First

STFC is committed to establishing and applying appropriate standards of regularity and propriety, including applying appropriate cultures and behaviours. We uphold high standards of integrity in all areas of the Councils operation, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

STFC operates a code of conduct for all of our staff and for Council members but recognises that we need to be responsive where these standards are challenged.

It is important that we guard against the perception of impropriety as well as the reality. We must be able to withstand both internal and external scrutiny. In particular, we will:

  • Operate a transparent and fair procedure to investigate all complaints and allegations of fraud
  • Protect the rights of the individual referring such matters
  • Treat all referrals seriously and confidentially
  • Maintain a high quality, accessible and responsive approach
  • In this context we aim to deliver the following standards of service

In this context we aim to deliver the following standards of service.

Key facts

Grant, studentship and fellowship applications

We will send an acknowledgement to applicants within four working days of receipt of their applications. In addition, we will inform all applicants of the period within which they can expect to receive a decision on their application.

General correspondence

We will answer correspondence (which requires a response) whether by letter, fax or e-mail, within 15 working days. On occasions where it may take longer to provide an answer, we will give a clear indication of when a response can be expected within the 15 day period.

Providing information

We will provide contact details (address, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address and web site address) on all external correspondence and on our website.

Consulting users

We will consult users regularly as part of our normal business processes, through our system of peer review and advisory committees and occasional town meetings.

Complaints procedure

We will operate a transparent and fair complaints procedure.


We comply fully with the requirements of current data protection legislation, in particular that personal data will only be used for stated, agreed purposes and that it will not be disclosed to a third party without the data subject’s consent.

We follow the guidelines set down in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information in providing information to external sources on request.

RCUK Complaints Policy

The Research Councils are committed to high standards of service in all their operations.

Despite this we recognise that things can sometimes go wrong and we want you to have the opportunity to raise any problems or complaints with us. Any complaint will be taken seriously and treated in the strictest confidence.

Reasons for complaints

A complaint may relate to:

  • Failure to follow stated policies or processes
  • Inappropriate or insensitive attitude by staff
  • Failure to follow the Council’s legal obligations

A complaint will not be considered when:

  • Matters are subject to legal proceedings or litigation
  • Disagreeing with a funding decision based on academic/scientific judgement
  • Complaints relating to decision by Research Organisations
  • Stated policies and processes have been followed
  • The matter has been considered appropriately under the complaints policy and closed.

Where a complaint is related to Research Conduct, please refer to the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct, which provides detailed guidance.

In order to allow a complete review of any complaint, we request that any complaint is submitted within 6 months of the issue/problem.

How to make a complaint

In the first instance we ask you to try to resolve your complaint directly with the Research Council officer dealing with the issue. If the matter is not resolved and you wish to escalate your complaint please follow the individual escalation procedures for the relevant Research Council. For STFC the following details should be used for escalation.

General Counsel & Director Corporate Services
c/o Head of Governance
North Star Avenue
Tel: 01793 442128
Fax: 01793 442002

If you are still not satisfied with the response you should write to:

Professor John Womersley STFC Chief Executive
Polaris House
North Star Avenue
Tel: 01793 442000
Fax: 01793 442106

The complaint must be made in writing, by either email or letter. Any telephone complaints will need to be followed up in written form to be formally investigated.

Information to include in complaint

In order for the Research Councils to investigate the complaint in a timely and effective manner we request that the following information is provided:

  • Full contact details of complainant
  • The Section/Team within the Research Council and the name of the Research Council officer (if known) dealing with the issue
  • A clear description of the complaint
  • Desired outcome of complaint, if appropriate.

The complaint will be acknowledged within 5 working days with a full response made within 20 working days thereafter. If a full response is not possible within this time we will provide details of progress made and a target date for resolution or further point of contact.


The following standards will be applied when considering any complaint:

  • Treated in confidence and within current information legislation (including Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • Handled fairly, sensitively and respectfully.
  • Treated in a competent and timely manner.

Any whistleblowing complaints received will be handled in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Please see RCUK Whistleblowing Policy.


If you have gone through the complaints procedure and remain dissatisfied with the outcome you have the right to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman). You will have to make your complaint to the Ombudsman through your local Member of Parliament.

Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000