Appeal of Academic Decisions Section 3

Section 3:  Appeals on Matters Other than Those Related to Academic Integrity

3.1 – Levels of Appeal

There are three levels of appeal within the Faculty of Arts and Science:
(i)     The instructor;
(ii)    The Office of the Associate Dean (Studies); and
(iii)   The Board of Studies.

These levels of appeal deliver a decision addressing the academic issues raised in the case. Information on these appeals is available from the Arts and Science website, as well as the Arts and Science Faculty Office.

               3.1.1 – Appeals to the Instructor

                              3.1.1.1 – Submission of the Appeal

If an academic decision is questioned by a student, the student will first take up the matter informally with the instructor who made the decision, in order to ensure that the instructor is aware of all the facts which the student believes are pertinent to the decision. This should be done as early as possible and must be done within 21 calendar days of communication of the decision to the student.

                              3.1.1.2 – The Decision of the Instructor

The instructor will normally give a reconsidered decision within 21 calendar days of receiving the additional information that the student has presented.

                              3.1.1.3 – Appealing the Decision of the Instructor

If a student is not satisfied with the decision of an instructor or a Department, an appeal may be made to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies).

3.1.1.4 – Matters that may be Appealed to the Instructor

The following matters may be appealed to the instructor:
(i)     Instructors’ decisions on grading of term work (see Appeal of Academic Decisions, section 3);
(ii)    Instructors’ decisions on grading of final examinations (see Appeal of Academic Decisions, section 3); and
(iii)   To request to write the final examination for a distance course at an earlier time than formally scheduled (see Academic Regulation 8)

3.1.2 – Appeals to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies)

                              3.1.2.1 – Submission of the Appeal

Appeals must be received in the Faculty Office within 21 calendar days of the initial decision that is being appealed. An appeal fee must also be submitted with the appeal documents. Students must complete the Associate Dean (Studies) Appeal Form and include a letter outlining the nature of their concerns. The student must clearly explain the extenuating circumstances and their impact upon the student. The appropriate supporting documentation must be appended to the appeal.

                              3.1.2.2 – Review of Appeal Documentation

If material in addition to that supplied by the student will be considered, the student must have at least 10 calendar days to review and respond to that material.

In cases where facts are in dispute or there are issues of credibility, the student or the Associate Dean (Studies) may request a meeting in addition to the written appeal. Students have the right to be accompanied by a Dispute Resolution Advisor to meet with the Associate Dean (Studies). If a student seeks formal legal representation, he or she should notify the Associate Dean (Studies) in advance.

                              3.1.2.3 – The Decision of the Associate Dean (Studies)

The Associate Dean (Studies) will inform the student in writing of the decision, normally within 21 calendar days after the date at which the appeal is considered complete.

                               3.1.2.4 – Appealing the Decision of the Associate Dean (Studies)

If the student is not satisfied with the decision reached by the Associate Dean (Studies, the student can choose to proceed to next stage of review by appealing to the Board of Studies.

3.1.2.5 – Matters that may be Appealed to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies)

The Faculty of Arts and Science permits students to appeal the following matters to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies):
(i)      To add a course after the last official date for adding classes (see Academic Calendar Dates);
(ii)    To drop a course after the last official date for dropping classes (see Academic Calendar Dates);
(iii)   To request Aegrotat standing in a class (see Academic Regulation 10);
(iv)   To request Credit (CR) standing in a class (see Academic Regulation 10);
(v)    To request an extension of the deadline to complete a deferred exam in a class (see Academic Regulation 10);
(vi)   To request an extension of the deadline to submit incomplete work in a class(see Academic Regulation 10);
(vii)  Instructors’ decisions on grading term work (see Academic Regulation 11);
(viii)  Instructors’ decisions on grading final examinations (see Academic Regulation 11);
(ix)   To request to write the final examination for a distance course at an earlier time than formally scheduled (see Academic Regulation 8);
(x)     To request to complete any part of the third or fourth year of an honours degree program at another university (Fall-Winter Session) (see Academic Regulation 14); and
(xi)   A requirement to withdraw (see Academic Regulation 13).

3.1.3 – Appeals to the Board of Studies

                              3.1.3.1 – Submission of the Appeal

Appeals must be received in the Faculty Office within 21 calendar days after the decision of the Associate Dean (Studies). There is no fee for the appeal to the Board of Studies. Students must complete the Board of Studies Appeal Form and include a letter that addresses the written statements made by the Associate Dean (Studies) in denying the appeal.

                              3.1.3.2 – Documentation to be Considered by the Board of Studies

All letters and documentation considered by the Associate Dean (Studies) in reaching a decision will be forwarded to the Board of Studies.

No additional information should be supplied, as the role of the Board of Studies is to review the decision of the Associate Dean (Studies) based on the same information available to the Associate Dean (Studies) at the time the decision was made. If new material is included, the appeal will be redirected to the Associate Dean (Studies) for reconsideration. After assessing new information, the Associate Dean (Studies) may decide to overturn the previous decision or to redirect the appeal to the Board of Studies for consideration.

                              3.1.3.3 – Review of Documentation

Students must have at least 10 calendar days to review and respond to the materials under consideration by the Board of Studies.

In cases where facts are in dispute or there are issues of credibility, the student or the Board of Studies may request an oral presentation, in addition to the written appeal. Students have the right to be accompanied by a Dispute Resolution Advisor to meet with the Board of Studies. If a student seeks formal legal representation, he or she should notify the Board of Studies in advance.

                              3.1.3.4 – Decision of the Board of Studies

In general, with the exceptions of appeals related to final examinations, final grades, or non-academic discipline where other criteria will apply, appeals to the Board of Studies are only granted where there are significantly extenuating circumstances, beyond the student’s control, that would merit the waiving of a particular Faculty regulation or decision.

The Board of Studies will inform the student in writing of the decision, normally within 21 calendar days after the date of the meeting of the Board of Studies to decide the appeal.

The decisions of the Board of Studies on academic matters are final (see the Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights and Discipline).

                              3.1.3.5 – Appealing the Decision of the Board of Studies

If the student is not satisfied with the process undertaken by the Associate Dean (Studies) or the Board of Studies, the student can choose to proceed to next stage of review by appealing to the University Student Appeal Board.

3.1.3.6 – Matters that may be Appealed to the Board of Studies

The Faculty of Arts and Science permits students to appeal the following matters to the Board of Studies:
(i)      To add a course after the last official date for adding classes (see Academic Calendar Dates);
(ii)    To drop a course after the last official date for dropping classes (see Academic Calendar Dates);
(iii)   To request Aegrotat standing in a course (see Academic Regulation 10);
(iv)   To request Credit (CR) standing in a course (see Academic Regulation 10);
(v)    To request an extension of the deadline to complete a deferred exam in a class (see Academic Regulation 10);
(vi)   To request an extension of the deadline to submit incomplete work in a class (see Academic Regulation 10);
(vii)  Instructors’ decisions on grading term work (see Academic Regulation 11);
(viii) Instructors’ decisions on grading final examinations (see Academic Regulation 11);
(ix)   To request to write the final examination for a distance course at an earlier time than formally scheduled (see Academic Regulation 8);
(x)     To request to complete any part of the third or fourth year of an honours degree program at another university (Fall-Winter Session) (see Academic Regulation 14); and
(xi)   A requirement to withdraw (see Academic Regulation 13).

3.1.4 – Appeals to the University Student Appeal Board (USAB)

                              3.1.4.1 – Submission of the Appeal

Appeals to USAB must be received in writing within 2 weeks of having received a decision from the Board of Studies. Students should contact the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms to be informed of the appeal process.

3.1.4.2 – Matters that may be Appealed to USAB

If a student believes that there are reasons for an appeal on other than academic grounds, the student may set in motion the system for handling appeals as recorded in the Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights and Discipline, by appealing to the University Student Appeal Board.

3.2 – Limitations on Appeals

3.2.1 – Who may Appeal

Only students registered in the Faculty of Arts and Science are eligible to initiate an appeal using the Faculty’s appeal procedure (see the Senate Policy on Faculty Jurisdiction With Respect To Student Appeals of Academic Decisions).

3.2.2 – Timeline of Appeals

3.2.2.1 – Explanation of 21-Day Appeal Timeline

Any appeal of an academic matter must be made within 21 calendar days of the decision under review. This timeline is in place for several reasons. First, the 21-day timeline offers students time to seek academic counselling, to write up and submit an appeal, and to collect the supporting documents necessary to the appeal.

Second, the appeal timeline is in place to ensure that decision making takes place in a timely manner, allowing students to continue in their academic programs without ongoing concern for unresolved matters.

Third, the appeal timeline is in place to ensure fair decision making. The interested parties and the original contexts within which the matter originated may not be available after this time period. Over time, instructors, class content, the norms of evaluating class materials, and Degree Plan structures may and generally do change. Furthermore, the supporting documents necessary to any appeal may no longer be available or their credibility may more easily come into question. Therefore, the inability to reconstruct accurately the circumstances leading to the original matter under appeal can compromise the decision-making process.

The principle of a limitation on timelines for review of academic matters conforms to precedents throughout the University. Most notably, Senate regulations on examinations require that final examinations be retained for up to one year from the date of writing. This policy assumes that students should be allowed sufficient time to query examination marks but also that the timeline for reconsideration is limited. Within the Faculty of Arts and Science for instance, transcript notations such as IN (Incomplete) have a finite standing: if insufficient action is taken by the student to complete the class, the standing IN is removed at the end of the term following that in which the class was offered, and is replaced with the letter grade F.

                              3.2.2.2 – Appealing the 21-Day Appeal Timeline

Exceptions to this regulation can only be granted in cases where extenuating circumstances beyond a student’s control render the student unable to appeal within the specified timeline. The student must be able to show that the extenuating circumstances were ongoing. The student must also be able to demonstrate that these circumstances prevented the student from acting between the time the original decision was received and the time at which the appeal was eventually initiated. Appeals of the regulation governing the timeline for appeals must be submitted in writing. An appeal of this type should include a presentation of the specific reasons for the delay and must include documents that support the reasons for this delay. Note that students are not able to revisit the same time period in submitting subsequent appeals. For example if a student has appealed to drop one or more classes without academic penalty in the Fall Term he or she is not able to make a subsequent different appeal in relation to that same time period.

                              3.2.2.3 – Appealing after Graduation

No appeal may be submitted by a student after 21 days following graduation.

3.3 – Matters that May be Appealed

               3.3.1 – To Add a Class After the Last Official Date for Adding Classes

Students must be registered in a class to be eligible to attend or otherwise participate in lectures, laboratories, tutorials, tests, and examinations associated with the class (see Academic Regulation 6).

Appeals to add a class late must clearly demonstrate the significant extenuating circumstances, beyond the student’s control, which prevented him or her from making the addition by the published deadline. A medical certificate or other documentation that outlines how the personal extenuating circumstances hindered the student’s ability to add the class during the published deadlines should be provided with the letter of appeal. The student must also have support from the Undergraduate Chair of the relevant department and from the class instructor.

An appeal to add a class must be must be submitted to the Arts and Science Faculty Office within 21 calendar days of the first day in which the class is offered.

               3.3.2 – To Drop a Class After the Last Official Date for Dropping Classes

Appeals to drop a class late must clearly demonstrate the significant extenuating circumstances, beyond the student’s control, which prevented him or her from dropping the class by the published deadline, as indicated in the Faculty's academic calendar dates. A medical certificate or other documentation that outlines how the personal extenuating circumstances hindered the student’s ability to drop the class during the published deadlines should be provided with the letter of appeal. If the appeal is successful, a grade of DR shall be placed on the transcript. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the final grade earned shall remain on the transcript. A student may not appeal to remove a DR grade from the transcript.

Students should be aware that if there are extenuating circumstances, other options are available in place of a DR grade, particularly when some or all of the coursework has been completed. These include Incomplete status (IN), Credit status (CR) or an Aegrotat grade in the course. Note that classes in which a student has received a passing grade may not be dropped. Instead, students with extenuating circumstances should consider an appeal for credit (CR) standing (see Academic Regulation 10).

An appeal to drop a class must be submitted within 21 calendar days of the end of the examination period in which the class was offered.

               3.3.3 – To Request Aegrotat Standing in a Course

Aegrotat standing is reserved for a student who, because of illness or other extenuating circumstances beyond their control, is unable to complete all the work of the class. At least 60 per cent of the work to be evaluated in the class (assignments, midterms, laboratories, final examination, as specified in the course outline) must be completed. A medical certificate or other documentation that outlines how the personal extenuating circumstances affected the student’s academic performance should be provided with the letter of appeal. A letter of support from the instructor should also be included. If this request is granted, the instructors involved will be asked to provide an estimated final grade (see Academic Regulation 10).

An appeal for aegrotat standing must be submitted no later than 21 calendar days after the end of the examination period in which the class was offered.

A student may be granted aegrotat or credit standing for a maximum of 36.0 units over the course of an entire degree program (see Academic Regulation 10).

3.3.4 – To Request Credit (CR) Standing in a Course

Credit standing is reserved for a student who has completed and passed all of the work of the class, including the final examination, but due to illness or other extenuating circumstances beyond his or her control, earned a substantially lower grade than might have been expected. Normally CR standing is only awarded for a grade of C or lower. A medical certificate or other documentation outlining how the personal extenuating circumstances affected the student’s academic performance should be provided with the letter of appeal. A letter of support from the instructor should also be included (see Academic Regulation 10).

An appeal for credit standing must be submitted no later than 21 calendar days after the end of the examination period in which the class was offered.

A student may be granted aegrotat or credit standing for a maximum of 36.0 units over the course of an entire degree program (see Academic Regulation 10).

3.3.5 – To Request an Extension of the Deadline to Complete a Deferred Examination in a Class

A student affected by extenuating circumstances may ask the course instructor that the final examination be delayed for up to one full term following the original examination date (see Academic Regulation 10). If the first request is granted, any further request to write a final examination after that term has elapsed must be made through a formal appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies). A medical certificate or other documentation outlining how the personal extenuating circumstances prevented the student from writing the examination should be provided with the letter of appeal. A note from the instructor agreeing to the extension and stating a revised date for completion of the final examination should also be included.

An appeal for the extension of the deadline to complete a deferred examination beyond one term must be made within the term following of the date of the final examination.

3.3.6 – To Request an Extension of the Deadline to Submit Incomplete Work in a Class

As outlined in Academic Regulation 10, a student affected by extenuating circumstances may ask the instructor for incomplete standing (IN) for up to one full term after the completion of a class. If the first request is granted, any further request to submit incomplete work after the term has elapsed must be made through a formal appeal to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies). A medical certificate or other documentation explaining how the personal extenuating circumstances prevented the student from completing the outstanding work should be provided with the letter of appeal. A note from the instructor agreeing to a revised final date for completion of the course work in question should also be included.

An appeal for the extension of the deadline to submit incomplete work must be made before the end of the term following that in which the class was offered.

3.3.7 – To Request a Review of Instructors’ Decisions on Grading of Final Examinations and/or Term Work

A student may request a review of any grade assigned in a course subject to the marking scheme set out by the course instructor(s) if the student can:

  • clearly articulate grounds for reconsideration and identify specifically the substance of an answer where the student feels the mark given was not evaluated fully;
  • show, in an objective answer, that a correct answer has been counted as incorrect;
  • show, in a subjective or essay answer, that the response has been under evaluated substantially; and
  • provide relevant documentation to support the appeal (i.e. class notes, etc.).

It is the responsibility of the student to preserve all exercises, papers, reports and other graded material for the course and to submit these materials with the appeal. In any formal appeal of term work, the student must accept the responsibility for ensuring that the work presented for reassessment is in fact the original term work submitted for evaluation (see Academic Regulation 11).

As a first step, the student should request an informal review with the instructor concerned, and instructors are strongly encouraged to consent. If the informal review process is unsuccessful, the student may ask for the assistance of the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies) in order to facilitate a review through an appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies). This request should be made within 21 calendar days of the grade being received. Usually the instructor will provide a reconsidered grade within 21 calendar days of the receipt of the request.

The reconsideration of the work in question will be undertaken by two reviewers appointed by the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies) or delegate (normally the Head of the relevant academic unit). One of the two reviewers will be the original instructor, unless the student can demonstrate bias or other conflict on the part of the original instructor. In such cases the original instructor may be asked to provide any documentation relevant to the review. The review will involve a rereading of the work in question.

An appeal on grading of term work must be submitted within 21 calendar days after the student has received the mark from the instructor.

3.3.8 – To Request to Complete Any Part of the Third or Fourth Year of an Honours Degree Program at Another University (Fall/Winter Session)

Normally the last two years of the honours degree are taken in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s. Students in good academic standing (i.e. on a degree program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 1.60) may spend the third or fourth year of an honours program at another university with the written permission of the department(s) of concentration and the Associate Dean (Studies). The student’s appeal should directly address how courses taken at another university will fulfill the concentration requirements. If approved, these students must obtain a Letter of Permission from the Arts and Science Faculty Office prior to enrolling in courses at another university (see Academic Regulation 14). Students may not appeal or apply for a Letter of Permission retroactively.

Students should be aware that the appeal process can take up to 21 calendar days and the application process for the Letter of Permission can take two to three weeks. In addition, should the appeal be approved and the Letter of Permission granted, students must then meet the host university’s admission dates.

3.3.9 – To Request to Waive a Requirement to Withdraw for One Year

Appeals requesting that a requirement to withdraw be waived must clearly demonstrate how significantly extenuating circumstances, beyond the student’s control, affected his or her academic performance. In cases where the extenuating circumstances have been temporary, the student should indicate and document how the circumstances have been overcome and why the student is confident that they will not continue to be a factor in academic performance. In cases where the extenuating circumstances are ongoing rather than temporary, the student should also indicate and document how these personal challenges will be managed if the requirement to withdraw is waived. A medical certificate or other official documentation that demonstrates the impact of the extenuating circumstances should be provided with the letter of appeal. 

If the requirement to withdraw is waived, the Associate Dean (Studies) may impose conditions governing the student’s subsequent registration. In these cases, at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Studies), the student’s registration status may be changed from full-time to part-time, or the student may be required to seek the permission of the Associate Dean (Studies) in order to register.

An appeal of the requirement to withdraw must be submitted within 21 calendar days of the receipt of the letter from the Associate Dean (Studies) informing the student of the decision that the student must withdraw.

3.3.10 – To Request to Waive a Requirement to Withdraw for a Minimum of Three Years

3.3.10.1 – Appeals Submitted Within 21 Days of Notification of RTW3 Standing

Appeals requesting that a requirement to withdraw be waived must clearly demonstrate how significantly extenuating circumstances, beyond the student’s control, affected his or her academic performance. In cases where the extenuating circumstances have been temporary, the student should indicate and document how the circumstances have been overcome and why the student is confident that they will not continue to be a factor in academic performance. In cases where the extenuating circumstances are ongoing rather than temporary, the student should also indicate and document how these personal challenges will be managed if the requirement to withdraw is waived. A medical certificate or other official documentation that demonstrates the impact of the extenuating circumstances should be provided with the letter of appeal.

If a student is within 12.0 units of completion of a degree, that student’s case will be reviewed by the Associate Dean (Studies), who may impose a lesser penalty. In exceptional circumstances, academic probation may be imposed by the Associate Dean (Studies) as an alternative to requiring a student to withdraw. The special conditions which the student must meet in such instances will be determined by the Associate Dean (Studies) on an individual basis (see Academic Regulation 13).

If the requirement to withdraw is waived, the Associate Dean (Studies) may impose conditions governing the student’s subsequent registration. In these cases, at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Studies), the student’s  registration status may be changed from full-time to part-time, or the student may be required to seek the permission of the Associate Dean (Studies) in order to register.

An appeal of the requirement to withdraw must be submitted within 21 calendar days of the receipt of the letter from the Associate Dean (Studies) informing the student of the decision that the student must withdraw. Further appeals to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies) for a requirement to withdraw for a minimum of three years will not be entertained until the full three years have elapsed.

        3.3.10.2 – Appeals Submitted After the Three Year Withdrawal Period

After the minimum withdrawal period of three years, a student who wishes to return to the Faculty of Arts and Science must appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies). The appeal should contain a completed Return to Studies Form, an outline of what the student has done during the period of withdrawal and a viable academic plan for the completion of their degree program. The appeal should provide evidence of their capability to succeed in the proposed academic plan.

If the requirement to withdraw is waived, the Associate Dean (Studies) may impose conditions governing the student’s subsequent registration. In these cases, at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Studies), the student’s registration status may be changed from full-time to part-time, or the student may be required to seek the permission of the Associate Dean (Studies) in order to register.

An appeal of the requirement to withdraw may be submitted at any time after the minimum withdrawal period of three years has elapsed.