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Queen's University
 

Policy on Rescinding Degrees

Approved by Senate November 30, 2006, amended January 20, 2011

The University Senate confers degrees upon those students who the faculties and schools, as evidenced by Faculty Board approval, deem worthy of receiving the degree by having met all approved degree requirements.

After the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures (SCAP) approves the degree lists forwarded from each Faculty Board, a notation is placed on the student record to indicate the degree granted and the date. This notation is included on the University’s official transcript. The names of students receiving degrees are also published in official Convocation programs.

In spite of the care that is taken in all aspects of the process, there are circumstances in which rescinding a degree must be considered. Two general cases have been identified below.

Cases Involving:

1. Administrative Errors

The University’s Office of the Registrar provides a system and process for determining degree eligibility that requires each student to apply, or declare an intention, to graduate, which thereby facilitates the Faculties’ ability to complete the process without error and protects the University’s interests in terms of accuracy and thoroughness. Faculties and Schools are responsible for ensuring compliance with the University process and ensuring that every student makes an application to graduate in order to be considered for the degree list.

Occasionally, errors are made in compiling the degree lists. In circumstances where the error is of a clerical or administrative nature, (e.g., the same student appears on the faculty degree list for the same degree and the same concentration in more than one convocation period or the student remains registered completing degree requirements, but was added to the degree list in error), the University Registrar will report to SCAP the reasons for the error, the steps taken to ensure the error is not repeated in the future, and the consequences and remedies to correct the error. Upon approval of SCAP, the University Registrar will adjust the student record appropriately to correct the error. The Secretary of the Senate will notify the student that the official student record has been corrected.

In rare and unusual circumstances, a Faculty may approve a student for the degree list in error, when the student has not met all of the degree requirements and therefore has not earned the degree. In cases in which the student has completed the required number of credits to earn the degree, but has not met all of the specific courses required for the degree (e.g. calculation errors in dual or concurrent degrees), the degree will not be rescinded. In these cases, the Faculty should attempt to encourage or persuade the student to complete all of the requirements. The student record is updated immediately upon approval of the degree list and this information is made public by way of the convocation program as well as being included on official transcripts. The University must limit changes to official student records in order to protect the integrity of our records and to ensure fairness for our students.

2. Academic Misconduct or Fraud

There may be circumstances when the University discovers that there was some academic misconduct or fraud involved in meeting the degree requirements, and, consequently, the awarding of a degree. Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to dishonest practices such as fabrication of data, cheating, or uttering by a student of false statements relating to academic work. Fraud includes but is not limited to altering transcripts or other official documents relating to student records, misrepresenting one’s credentials, or creating or altering letters of reference. In exceptional circumstances such as these, the University may rescind the degree.

2.1. Procedure Regarding an Allegation of Academic Misconduct or Fraud

2.1.1 Initial Investigation

If a unit receives information regarding the possibility of academic misconduct or fraud, which, if proven, might warrant rescinding the degree of a student, a written statement setting out the allegation and the relevant information will be forwarded to the Dean of the Faculty in which the student’s degree was earned. The Dean will designate someone, normally an Associate Dean, to conduct an investigation. For the purposes of determining whether the allegation appears founded, the investigation must be completed by the Dean’s designate within three months of the allegation. If, after reviewing the evidence, the Dean’s designate decides that the evidence does not support the allegation, all documents related to the case will be destroyed. If the person investigating the allegation is satisfied that the matter should proceed to a hearing, this person shall act as the Prosecutor in the case.

The Prosecutor will ask the Secretary of the Senate, on behalf of the Senate, to contact the student by registered mail to inform him or her that there is an allegation of academic misconduct or fraud and that a hearing before a Faculty Board Committee assembled for this purpose may be held to decide the matter.

The student will be informed of the following:

  • the evidence on which the allegation is based including a copy of the documents related to the allegation
  • the requirement that the student respond to the allegation within 60 (sixty) days of receipt of the registered mail
  • the option of informal discussion with the Prosecutor to address the allegation without a hearing
  • the option to consult with the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, of the right to have representation at the hearing, and to seek independent legal advice
  • the right to provide a written submission regarding the allegation and to appear before the Faculty Board Committee
  • the right of the Faculty Board Committee to hear the allegation and evidence in the student’s absence if the student does not respond within the time allowed and does not request an extension by written application with satisfactory reasons
  • in the event that there is a finding of academic misconduct or fraud, the sanction may include the rescinding of the student’s degree.

2.1.2 Post-Investigation Procedures

2.1.2a Student acknowledges and responds to the allegation

The Prosecutor and the student (who may be assisted by a University Dispute Resolution Advisor or any other person including a legal representative) may meet informally and without prejudice to discuss a negotiated settlement. If a negotiated settlement is reached, the resolution shall be set out in writing, signed by the Prosecutor and the student, and adopted by Faculty Board without debate or voting. A recommendation to rescind a degree shall take effect only after it has been approved by SCAP in accordance with Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline (SARD).

If a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, the Prosecutor shall ask the Chair of Faculty Board to assemble a Faculty Board Committee. The Faculty Board Committee shall consist of three faculty members. The members of the Committee will select a Chair for the Committee. The Prosecutor shall give the Committee copies of all written material relevant to the allegation. The Chair for the Committee shall then consult with the Prosecutor and the student (or the student’s Advisor or other counsel) to set a hearing date. In all cases the Faculty Board Committee should proceed with the basic rules of procedural fairness in mind.

If, after hearing the evidence, the Faculty Board Committee decides that the evidence does not support the allegation, all documents related to the case will be destroyed. The student will be informed that the allegation has been withdrawn and that the matter is closed.

If, after hearing the evidence, the Faculty Board Committee finds that the evidence does support the allegation, the Committee will determine the sanction. The Committee may recommend that the student’s degree be rescinded, and, depending on the circumstances, may specify a period of time that must pass before the student may apply for re-admission. The Committee will consult the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures (SCAP) before deciding whether a recommendation to rescind a degree is consistent with past decisions across the University. If, after consultation with SCAP, the Faculty Board Committee recommends that the student’s degree be rescinded, the student will be informed of the decision with reasons. The student also will be informed of the right to appeal the decision to the University Student Appeal Board and provided contact information for the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.

If the student does not appeal the decision, the Faculty Board shall accept and adopt the recommendation of the Faculty Board Committee without debate or voting. Because the jurisdiction of Faculty Boards does not include the power to rescind a degree, further consideration of the matter by these bodies shall not be a stage of appeal. However, because Faculty Boards approved the degree lists submitted to Senate, they should be informed of the decision of the Faculty Board Committee. A recommendation to rescind a degree shall take effect only after it has been approved by SCAP in accordance with Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline (SARD).

2.1.2b Current contact information unavailable

If the Secretary of the Senate is unable to contact the student, or the student does not respond to the Secretary’s correspondence or other attempts to contact the student (i.e. the University is unable to confirm that the student received the information), the allegation will be noted in the Office of the University Registrar and any further proceedings will be held in abeyance. If, at any time, the University Registrar or any other University body becomes aware of current contact information for the student, the Secretary of the Senate again will attempt to inform the student of the allegation and about the procedure for responding to the allegation.

In the event that the student initiates contact with the University (e.g. to request a copy of a transcript), the University Registrar or the Secretary of the Senate shall use the contact information provided by the student to inform him or her, by registered mail, of the allegation and about the procedure for responding to the allegation. While the allegation is being addressed, a request for transcripts will be processed until such time as a finding is made and routes of appeal have been exhausted or a deadline for an appeal has passed.

In the event that the student receives this correspondence and acknowledges/responds to the allegation, the procedure in Section 2.1.2a shall be followed.

2.1.2c Student does not respond

In the event that the student receives the correspondence and does not respond within 60 (sixty) days of the date of the letter, a hearing will be scheduled by the Faculty Board Committee Chair. The student shall be provided reasonable notice of the hearing date including a statement that if he or she does not attend the hearing, the Faculty Board Committee may proceed in the student’s absence and the student will not be entitled to any further notice in the proceeding.

The hearing shall be conducted following the procedures outlined in Section 2.1.2a.

2.2 Review by SCAP

If SCAP receives for its review and approval a recommendation to rescind a degree, which has been accepted and adopted by a Faculty Board, the review shall ordinarily be carried out in accordance with Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline at section 10.

3. Transcript Notation

A recommendation to rescind a degree, once reviewed and approved by SCAP or upheld by USAB, will result in a notation on the student’s transcript that the degree is rescinded including the date that the recommendation to rescind the degree came into effect. If, at some later date, the student is admitted and subsequently completes the degree requirements, the initial notation stating that the degree was conferred will be removed from the transcript as well as the notation that the degree was rescinded. These notations will be replaced with the new date on which the degree was conferred.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000