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Graduate Studies General Regulations Appeals Against Academic Decisions


Appeals Against Academic Decisions

General: Academic problems sometimes arise because of misunderstandings that can be resolved by informal discussion. The general approach of the University is to encourage the speedy resolution of academic problems informally and through the normal administrative routes, i.e., coordinators of graduate studies and department/program heads, before pursuing formal appeal processes. If you are concerned about academic problems, it is wise to first seek advice and support from your supervisor, a friend, colleague or University†Advisor, whom you feel will be sympathetic and fair minded. If this informal approach to the resolution of academic problems does not lead to a resolution, then you may request that your academic appeal be heard by the Academic Appeal Board.

Academic assessments, decisions or regulations may be appealed only on procedural grounds. Course marks or exam committee decisions cannot be overturned; however alternative actions (including the possibilities of further exams) may be ordered.

If you appeal to the Academic Appeal Board, you should be aware that material you submit in support of your appeal will be distributed to other parties participating in the appeal. Those individuals may include the course instructor, the department or program's coordinator of graduate studies and the head of the department/program.

Structure of the Academic Appeal Board: For any appeal, the Appeal Board shall comprise the Chair, who is a faculty member, another faculty member, and a graduate student. At least one faculty member and the graduate student shall be from the same general domain as the appellant, but no member shall be from the same graduate department or program as the appellant.

The Director of Admissions and Student Services of the School of Graduate Studies shall serve as the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board.

For an appeal, the Chair, the other faculty member and the graduate student will be selected from a panel of eight faculty members and eight graduate students (or alternates).

The faculty members on the panel shall be from each Faculty Graduate Council or Committee, and alternates from each Faculty Graduate Council or Committee (from departments/programs different than the principal members) nominated by the Faculty Graduate Council or Committee to the School of Graduate Studies. The student representatives on the panel shall be from each Faculty Graduate Council or Committee and alternates (from departments/programs different than the principal members) nominated by the Society for Graduate and Professional Students.

The School of Graduate Studies appoints, for a three-year term, one faculty member to act as Chair and another to act as an alternate Chair (in the event of a conflict-of-interest situation or a multiplicity of hearings).

Faculty panel members will be elected for a three year term and student panel members for a one year term. Both terms are renewable.

Roles and Responsibility of the Academic Appeal Board: Members of the Academic Appeal Board are members of the academic community of Queenís University, and as such will uphold the applicable policies and regulations of Queenís University. Parties to an appeal are required to abide by the universityís policies and regulations.

The Chair of the Academic Appeal Board shall be responsible for ensuring that all procedures in this regulation are followed fairly and appropriately.The Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board shall be responsible for all administrative activities of the Board, such as but not limited to scheduling all required meetings,distributing all documents for the appeal, including the final report of the Academic Appeal Board, and corresponding with all parties about the appeal process.

Normal Steps in the Appeal Procedures:

Step 1: If a student wishes to question an academic decision, other than those relating to thesis outcomes or an allegation of a departure from academic integrity, an appeal must first be made informally to the instructor or body whose decision is being questioned. The students must ensure that the instructor or body is aware of all the facts which the student believes should bear upon the reconsideration of the decision. This should be done within two weeks of the receipt of the decision. If the student is reluctant to approach the instructor or body personally, he or she may seek the assistance of a University Advisor, the Student Advisors of the Society for Graduate and Professional Students, the Coordinator, Dispute Resolution Mechanisms of the University Secretariat Office or other university advisor to do so on his or her behalf.

Step 2: If the student is unable to resolve the problem by informal discussion, and the student is not satisfied with the outcome of Step 1, an appeal may be lodged with the department/program Head or Coordinator of Graduate Studies who will immediately inform the department/program Head. The Head must respond to the appeal within two weeks of receiving the appeal.

Step 3: If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of Step 2, he or she should seek the assistance of an Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies within two weeks of receiving the written response from the Head or Coordinator of Graduate Studies under Step 2. The Associate Dean will meet with the student as soon as possible thereafter. The Associate Dean shall provide a written response within two weeks of meeting with the student.

Step 4: If the student is still not satisfied, he or she may, within two weeks of receiving the written response of the Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies under Step 3, ask the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board of the School of Graduate Studies to convene an Academic Appeal Board to hear his or her appeal. The student must submit a written statement of appeal within one week of such a request to the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board of the School of Graduate Studies. The studentís statement must include copies of any written decisions received under Steps 1, 2 and/or 3 above.

The studentís written statement of appeal: The studentís written statement of appeal should clearly address the policies and procedures of the graduate program/department and/or the School of Graduate Studies and/or Queenís University that were not followed, and/or any extenuating circumstances that were beyond the studentís control that impacted the academic decision under appeal. If extenuating circumstances relate to a medical incident or condition, supporting documentation (such as a doctorís note) should be provided in the written statement of appeal.

The statement should include specific details about the timing of what happened in the incident, course, or program. The statement must also outline what the student would like the Academic Appeal Board to consider as a possible outcome or outcomes of its deliberations. All documents submitted with the written statement of appeal, including doctorsí notes, shall be circulated by the Secretary to the members of the Academic Appeal Board.

The Academic Appeal Board may decide not to consider the appeal if the document/evidence submitted is substantially incomplete, defective, or inaccurate. If the decision is that the document/evidence submitted is substantially incomplete, defective, or inaccurate and if the student can rectify the defect(s) or deficiency in the appeal within two weeks from the date of receipt of this notice from the Chair, then the appeal proceedings will resume.

The written statement of response: The Head of the Department/Program shall be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the studentís written statement of appeal.The opportunity to respond in writing could also be delegated to another department/program member, such as the Graduate Coordinator, or, the faculty member responsible for the academic action under appeal.

The Head (or delegate) shall be provided with a copy of all appeal documents submitted by the student and shall have two weeks from the date of receipt to file a written statement of response. Copies of all documents relevant to the matter or matters of the appeal that are in the possession or control of the Head (or delegate) shall be included in the written statement of response.

The written statement of response shall address the specific matters outlined in the studentís written statement of appeal, and/or any and all procedures that are relevant to the matter under appeal. The written statement of response shall not include information extraneous to the matters raised in the studentís statement and/or related to the matter under appeal.

If no written statement of response is submitted by the deadline, the process will continue without this input.

Deadlines: On behalf of the Academic Appeal Board, the Secretary in consultation with the Chair may extend any time limit if, upon written application by the requesting party (the student or the respondent), a satisfactory reason is provided for the delay and there is no prejudice to the other party.

Documents: Each party to the appeal is entitled to and shall receive every document that the Academic Appeal Board receives from the other party or parties to the appeal. All documents of the appeal will be treated confidentially, returned to and stored with the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board, separate from the studentís academic file.

Step 5: The Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board shall distribute the student's statement and the written statement of response to the members of the Academic Appeal Board. Within one week of receiving the statements, the Board shall convene to review the written material.

In some cases, upon the review of the written material, the Academic Appeal Board may determine that it does not have jurisdiction over the substantive matter of the appeal, and that the appeal cannot proceed any further under the auspices of the Academic Appeal Board.If this is the decision, the Chair of the Academic Appeal Board shall inform the student of the decision and the reasons for the decision and will advise the student of the next avenue of appeal or consideration.However, in most cases the Academic Appeal Board will hear the appeal and call for a meeting of all parties (see below.)

The meeting of all parties: The Academic Appeal Board shall, within two further weeks of their initial review, hold a meeting of all parties to the appeal. Under normal circumstances, it is anticipated that the appeal can be heard in its entirety at this meeting and that the Academic Appeal Board shall issue its report within a further two weeks.

At the meeting of all parties, the student may be accompanied by a University Advisor or other support person. Although a student has the right to the assistance of a legal representative, such counsel is not usually desirable or necessary at this stage of the appeal procedure. The intent is to provide a fair hearing in an atmosphere of relative informality. The student should notify the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board at least one week prior to the meeting if he or she is to be legally represented.

At the meeting of all parties, the student and the respondent or respondents are expected to present their cases, in brief oral statements. Each party will also be given the opportunity to respond to the other partyís oral statement. Then, members of the Academic Appeal Board shall ask questions of the parties to the appeal, and/or seek clarification of matters pertaining to the appeal. Then each party will be invited to make a closing statement. After closing statements the meeting of all parties shall end.

It is not expected that any additional submissions or documents will be introduced or circulated at the meeting of all parties. The written statements of appeal and response shall comprise the written documentation under consideration at the meeting of all parties.† The Chair may exclude any document that is not included in the written statements of appeal and response by the date of the meeting of all parties.

At the meeting of all parties, the Chair may reasonably limit oral statements or discussions when satisfied that the relevant matter of the appeal has been fully and fairly covered, or if the statements or discussions are irrelevant.

If any party to the appeal fails to attend the meeting of all parties when it is scheduled, the meeting can still proceed. Alternatively, the Academic Appeal Board, with the consent of all parties, may hear the submission of the parties in separate meetings.

The disposition of appeals and resulting options for the student are set out in Disposition of Appeals below.

NOTES

1. The appeal procedure for a thesis examining committee decision is described in a separate section, below. The appeal procedure for reviewing an allegation of a departure from academic integrity is described elsewhere in the General Regulations (Academic Integrity Policy).

2. No penalty or requirement to withdraw shall be put into effect until the student affected has either exhausted all channels of appeal or has allowed the time for appeal to lapse. Exceptions will be considered if an academic unit feels the interests or safety of other students or third parties would be compromised by the studentís continued participation in the graduate program. See the Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights and Discipline subs.35(b) and (d), and Commentary.†

Appeal of Thesis Examination Committee Decision: If the appeal is concerned with the decision of a thesis examination committee the appeal should be made in writing to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies or, if the Dean was a member of the examining committee, to an Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The appeal should be made in writing and within two weeks of the examination. If the person appealed to is unable resolve the problem within two weeks and the student is not satisfied, he or she must within one further week submit a written request to the Secretary of the Academic Appeal Board of the School of Graduate Studies to convene an Academic Appeal Board to hear the appeal. The appeal procedure will then continue as described in Step 5 above.†

Disposition of Appeals: †After hearing from all parties, the Academic Appeal Board may make one or more of the following dispositions:

a. Uphold the Appeal: If the Academic Appeal Board upholds the student's appeal in whole or in part, it shall refer the matter back to the department/program or body concerned with specific recommendations for resolution of the appeal. The department/program shall report back to the Academic Appeal Board on the resolution of the appeal. The Academic Appeal Board shall retain jurisdiction over the appeal pending receipt of a report from the department/program.

b. Deny the Appeal: If the Academic Appeal Board denies the appeal, it shall dismiss the appeal with reason(s).The decision of the Academic Appeal Board may be appealed only†through the University Student Appeal Board under Section 21 of the Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights and Discipline.

c. Make Recommendations or Policy, Procedures and Principle to the School of Graduate Studies: If the Academic Appeal Board, in hearing an appeal, identifies matters of policy, procedure or principle that have broad implications for the School of Graduate Studies, it should draw these to the attention of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Studies General Regulations Appeals Against Academic Decisions
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