Academic appeals

Once all the appropriate recourses have been sought within the academic unit, students may appeal to the Faculty on any matter within the jurisdiction of the Faculty as set out in the University Act, except those matters in which the sole question raised turns on the exercise of academic judgement. The Faculty shall review an academic decision only on the basis of specific procedural error.

Review of an assigned grade

a) Procedures for Review of an Assigned Grade Other Than "N":

Any student wishing clarification about, or who is dissatisfied with, an assigned grade should first discuss the matter with the instructor, who will review the work in question. This discussion must take place within 10 business days of the grades being posted and the review completed within 21 business days of the start of the discussion. If the instructor agrees to change a grade before the final course grades have been submitted, a change of grade request should be made through the Chair to Graduate Admissions and Records Office.

If the instructor confirms the original grade, and if the student is still dissatisfied, then the student should appeal to the Chair/Director of the unit concerned, stating clearly the grounds on which the grade should be raised. If the Chair believes the grounds to be reasonable, then the Chair should initiate a review of the grade using the procedures adopted by the discipline faculty in which the Chair's academic unit resides (these procedures are on file with the University Secretary's Office). If the Chair does not agree to review of the grade, then the student has the right to formally request a review of the grade through The Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The student normally remains a member of their home academic unit during any appeal.

The grade determined by means of review shall be recorded as the final official grade, irrespective of whether it is identical to, or higher or lower than, the original grade.

The Chair will inform all parties, including the Dean of Graduate Studies, of the result of the review.

Further appeal to the Dean of Graduate Studies can only be made on the basis of specific procedural error made in the application of the discipline faculty's grade review procedures. The Dean's decision is final, subject to review by the Senate Committee on Appeals on grounds of specific procedural error.

b) Procedures for Review of an "N" Grade:

An "N" grade in a course may be appealed when the grade has occurred due to severe or debilitating illness or psychological condition, accident, or family affliction.  An appeal, together with supporting documentation, can be sent to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies Procedures for Review of an Assigned Grade do not apply to courses numbered 596, 597, 598, 599, and 699. Appeal regarding these courses should be directed to the Dean of Graduate Studies using the procedures below.

Appeal of denial of decision

Appeals regarding denial of admission are reviewed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Such appeals are made by academic units on behalf of students who do not meet the minimum admission requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. A necessary condition for such an appeal is that the academic unit must be willing to admit the student to its program. The decision of this committee is final for the Faculty and can only be appealed to the Senate Committee on Appeals on the basis of specific procedural error.

Appeal for fee reduction

The Graduate Fee Reduction Appeals Committee considers appeals of fee assessment when based upon i) course registration changes after posted deadlines, ii) assessment of reregistration fees, and iii) errors or omissions committed by the student. Graduate Admissions and Records handles fee adjustments which arise from i) errors or omissions committed by University staff, and ii) implementation of normal policies and procedures. The decision of this committee is final.

Procedure appeals

On all other matters, students should lodge an appeal in writing with the Dean of Graduate Studies and shall include as part of that appeal a clear statement of:

  • the decision which is being appealed,
  • the reasons why the appellant believes the appeal should be allowed,
  • the remedy or relief which the appellant is seeking.

Normally, an appeal to the Faculty must be filed within four months of the decision (or communication of the decision) being appealed.

Procedures

The Dean will review the appeal and decide whether or not it falls within the Faculty's jurisdiction. The Faculty may decide not to proceed with an appeal where it appears that:

  • it is not within the jurisdiction of the Faculty,
  • it could be dealt with more appropriately by another University body,
  • it is trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith, or
  • is based on events that occurred more than four months before the complaint was filed, unless the delay was seen as reasonable and justifiable by the Faculty and no substantial prejudice will result to any person affected by the delay.
  • The Dean will inform the appellant in writing of any decision to dismiss, giving reasons.

    If the matter falls within the Faculty's jurisdiction, the Dean will acknowledge receipt of the appeal in writing. By copy of that letter, the Dean will ask the respondent to forward a written statement on the substance of the appeal, as well as any relevant documentation, within 10 working days. Upon receipt of the statement, the Dean will refer appeals either to the Associate Dean, or to a hearing panel, for the preparation of an advisory report including findings of fact and recommendations for remedy.

    If the Associate Dean is to prepare the report , the appellant and respondent must have access to a copy of all documentation submitted to the Associate Dean by all parties to the appeal. The appellant and respondent must be afforded the opportunity for further comment and clarification. 

    If a hearing is to be held, the appellant and respondent must receive reasonable notice of the hearing, along with all documentation submitted to the hearing panel, and be invited to attend to hear what the other says and have the opportunity for further comment and clarification. The appellant and respondent may, if they wish, have an advocate present. The hearing shall be held in camera, and the testimony recorded.

    Either the Associate Dean or the hearing panel may request the production of records or any other material relating to the subject matter of the appeal. In the case of a hearing, the panel may invite other persons to attend.

    Striking a hearing panel

    Should the Dean decide to refer an appeal to a three person hearing panel for the production of an advisory report including findings of fact and recommendations for remedy, a Chair free of bias or conflict of interest shall be appointed by the Dean to preside at the hearing and write the final report for endorsement by the panel. As well, the Dean will appoint one further panel member free of conflict of interest. The third panel member must be a graduate student, and will be appointed by the G.S.S. The Dean will ensure that both parties have the opportunity to review the panel membership in order to ensure that no bias or conflict of interest exists. Panelists will only be dismissed and replaced if evidence is adduced by either party to the appeal which, on the balance of probabilities, supports an allegation of bias or conflict of interest.

    Report and Decision

    Within a reasonable time frame, the advisory report on the matters raised in the appeal will be made by the Associate Dean or the hearing panel to the Dean of the Faculty. If, after reviewing this report, the Dean elects to allow the appeal, the student will be notified of the decision in writing, and all parties to the appeal will receive copies of this decision and the final report produced by the Associate Dean or panel.

    If, after reviewing this report, the Dean is inclined to disallow the appeal, the Dean will first provide the student with a copy of the report, and then arrange a meeting with the student. After this meeting, the Dean will decide whether or not to allow or dismiss the appeal. All parties will receive copies of the report and be advised in writing of the Dean's decision where the decision is to dismiss, reasons must be given.

    The decision of the Dean is the final position of the Faculty upon the matter of the appeal.

    In those cases where further information or requests for remedy are made to the Dean after the advisory report has been forwarded, the Dean will ensure that both parties have access to this material and an opportunity to respond to it before a decision is taken. Students wishing to appeal the decision of the Faculty may direct the request in writing to the Senate Committee on Appeals with the procedures set out in the Senate Committee on Appeals Procedural Guidelines.


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