Student Academic Appeals Policy

Approved by Senate: April, 2021


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Resources for Students
  4. Responsibilities and Authority of Faculties and Schools
  5. System For Handling Appeals to University Student Appeal Board (USAB)
  6. Appendices

 


A. Introduction

1. This Senate Policy on Student Academic Appeals and Procedures, reflects the intent of the Senate regarding Student Academic Appeals, which is twofold:

i. To ensure that students receive fair treatment and are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

ii. To establish a fair, efficient process for addressing student appeals from academic decisions.

2. This document continues the University wide body, University Student Appeal Board (USAB), which provides a final internal appeal process for academic matters. USAB is intended to have a relatively narrow jurisdiction for dealing with academic appeals, recognizing that academic decisions should generally be made by those who are most familiar with the context.

3. It is important for all faculty, administrators, staff, and students who are involved in academic decision-making to be familiar with this Policy, and to advise students of their rights, including appeal rights and the ability to seek the advice of an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor assigned by the Office of the Ombudsperson (See paragraphs 17-21 below) or to seek independent legal advice. The University encourages the informal resolution of disputes, which may be achieved with the assistance of an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor.

4. The provisions of this Policy and other academic policies, procedures, regulations, and guidelines of the University are to be interpreted and applied using a contextual and purposive approach; this means that they are to be read in their ordinary grammatical sense and harmoniously with the entire context of the objects and intention of the policy, procedure, regulation or guideline in question.


B. Scope

Application of this Policy

5. This Policy applies only to:

i. Academic decisions and students’ appeals from those decisions.

ii. Step-two written decisions made by a Unit Head concerning an employment-related issue between an undergraduate teaching assistant and their course supervisor.

6. Other than as expressly stated herein, this Policy does not create, alter or eliminate any existing academic procedures of first instance or internal appeals that are now, or may later be, in place in a student’s Faculty, School or program.

7. Admissions decisions are not subject to appeal. As such, while this policy does apply to students who have been required to withdraw for academic reasons and are seeking re- admission to their program of study, this Policy does not apply to decisions related to:

i. An individual’s admission to the University.

ii. An individual’s admission to a program at Queen’s, even if the individual is, or has been, a student in another program at Queen’s.

8. This Policy does not apply to Postgraduate Medical Students, who are governed by the Assessment, Promotion, and Appeals Policy of the Postgraduate Medical Education program.

9. This Policy does not apply to decisions made under the Student Code of Conduct or the Student at Risk Policy or appeals from those decisions. Academic consequences arising from decisions about non-academic misconduct do not bring a non-academic misconduct matter within the scope of this Policy.

Definitions

10. academic decision means a decision made by a decision-maker regarding a student’s academic performance or academic standing. Academic decisions include, but are not limited to, academic probation and suspension. Academic decisions do not include decisions regarding admission to the University, transfer from one Faculty, School or program to another Faculty, School or program within the University, or the determination of grading criteria or course requirements or decisions made about a student’s non- academic conduct irrespective of whether such decisions impact a student’s participation in a course or academic program.

11. academic standing means the standard used to determine or measure a student's eligibility to remain and/or progress in a program, as determined by the academic regulations of the student’s Faculty, School or program.

12. decision-maker means a body or person who has been delegated directly or indirectly by Senate the power to make academic decisions that are binding.

13. internal appeal means an appeal from a decision made within a Faculty or School, to a higher-level decision-making person or body within the same Faculty or School.

14. proceeding means a decision-making process to which this Policy applies that has been formally submitted for a ruling by a decision-maker. This includes (i) a decision-making process held by means of the exchange of written submissions and documents; (ii) a decision-making process at which the parties and their advisors attend before a decision- maker in person or by teleconference or other form of electronic technology that allows participants to hear and/or see one another. (“oral presentation” or “meeting”).

15. Secretary of USAB means the person appointed to this position by the Secretary of the Senate.

16. student means anyone who is registered in an academic program at Queen’s University on either a full-time or part-time basis (including, for example, visiting or exchange students and those attending Queen’s on a letter of permission), or who was so registered at the time of the events upon which a proceeding of first instance and any subsequent appeal is based.


C. Resources for Students

Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisors

17. Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisors are faculty members appointed by the Office of the University Ombudsperson for two-year renewable terms.

18. In appropriate circumstances and subject to availability, the Office of the University Ombudsperson can assign an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor to assist a student who is facing serious adverse academic consequences. The assignment of an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor is generally reserved for situations such as those in which a student:

i.Could be required to withdraw for academic reasons.

ii. Has received a decision requiring them to withdraw for academic reasons.

iii. Is facing an allegation(s) about a departure from academic integrity.

iv. Is seeking to appeal a decision that the student engaged in a departure from academic integrity.

19. Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisors will not be assigned to cases of grade appeals, unless the grade will result in the application of an academic regulation requiring the student to withdraw for academic reasons.

20. Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisors are permitted to be present at any meeting between a student and a decision-maker but does not directly advocate on behalf of a student. The role of an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor is to ensure that students are aware of their rights and responsibilities and to counsel students about opportunities to resolve their matter.

21. Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisors are expected to be familiar with the academic rules and regulations that apply to the student so they can provide appropriate assistance and advice to the student.

Support Persons

22. Students are ordinarily expected to deal directly with their professors, University administrators and their fellow students. However, they can choose to be accompanied by a support person at any meeting with an academic decision-maker. A “support person” is an individual whose role is to provide emotional support and assistance.

23. A support person can be anyone of the student’s choice so long as that person is not directly involved in the issue, for example as a witness. The support person may be an Ombuds Academic Appeal Advisor, if assigned by the University Ombudsperson to the case.

24. A support person does not advocate on behalf of a student.

Legal Advisors

25. Students who are facing serious adverse academic consequences are encouraged to consider obtaining legal advice from a lawyer, paralegal, or other legal advisor of their choosing.

26. If a student has a legal advisor, a decision-maker or the members of a decision-making body can nevertheless question the student directly. The student’s legal advisor cannot answer questions on the student’s behalf.

The Rector

27. The Rector, who is elected by the student body, may also be a useful resource and a potential advisor for students to consult. The Rector shall not however, have the role of advocate for students.

 


 

D. Responsibilities and Authority of Faculties and Schools

Rule-Making Bodies Required to Issue Rules

28. Each decision-making body established to hear appeals of academic decisions (including: grade appeals where permitted; matters of academic standing; and, matters relating to academic integrity) must publish rules of procedure outlining, at a minimum, the scope of the authority of the decision-making body and the process for appealing its decisions.

29. Students shall not be charged a fee for filing an appeal.

30. Each academic decision-making body established by a Faculty or School shall review, regularly update, and publish its academic rules and regulations.

31. Faculties and Schools shall have explicit statements of the rights and responsibilities of students and shall clearly describe formal procedures, including the channels of appeal.

32. Rules published by decision-making bodies shall be consistent with this Policy and other Senate policies. Decision-making bodies shall specify the range of sanctions that apply to violations of particular rules and regulations.

Effective Date of Sanction, Penalty or Requirement to Withdraw

33. Ordinarily, no sanction, penalty or requirement to withdraw shall be put into effect until the student affected has either exhausted all available channels of appeal or the time for filing an appeal has expired and no appeal has been filed. For the purpose of this provision, the University will normally consider an adverse academic decision to be a sanction.

34. Notwithstanding paragraph 33, if an academic unit determines that the interests of third parties may be prejudiced by the continued enrolment of a student in a course or program, the unit may decide that, pending an appeal from an adverse academic decision, the student should not be permitted to continue in their course or program or should be precluded from progressing to the next academic stage. A student who is subject to an immediate sanction under this paragraph may request that the Chair of the appellate body with jurisdiction over the matter expedite the appeal. This request may result in a direction abridging the time for filing of documents, or other interim or preliminary directions.1

1Some academic experiences involve student interaction with third parties or may be subject to laws and regulations such as those governing certain professions (such as those subject to the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Medicine Act). For example, and without limiting other possible circumstances, there are placement requirements in Education and mandated clinical placements in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy, where the interests of third parties would justify immediate suspension of a student from a course or portion of a program pending the outcome of an appeal process. In programs involving intensive group work, the interests of other students might also justify such a suspension pending the outcome of an appeal process.

Departure from Academic Integrity

35. Faculty boards or their delegated bodies have jurisdiction to deal with issues of academic integrity concerns and to impose sanctions when they find a departure from academic integrity has occurred.

36. If a decision-maker finds that a breach of academic integrity occurred and believes that a Requirement to Withdraw or the rescission of a degree granted by the University is warranted, then, before issuing its decision the decision-maker must consult with the Chair of the Academic Integrity Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures (“SCAP”), to ensure that these kinds of sanctions are imposed consistently across the University. If the Chair of the Academic Integrity Subcommittee is satisfied the decision-maker’s proposed sanction is in accordance with University standards, they shall so advise the decision-maker in writing and the decision-maker will issue its written decision to the student, including the reasons for its decision. If the decision imposes a Requirement to Withdraw for Breach of Academic Integrity, the decision shall indicate the required transcript notation in accordance with the Policy on Transcript Terminology for Students Withdrawing from Queen’s University.

37. If the Chair of the Academic Integrity Subcommittee is not so satisfied, the Chair shall report back to the decision-maker requiring reconsideration of the proposed sanction, summarizing the Chair’s reasons.

38. The Chair of the Academic Integrity Subcommittee shall report annually to SCAP, which in turn will report annually to the Senate (in such a way that does not identify individual students or faculty members), on the cases reviewed involving departures from academic integrity.

Academic Standing

39. Faculty boards or their delegated bodies continue to have jurisdiction to deal with issues of academic standing. Subject to a student’s right of appeal, if a student is not meeting the requirements of their program, a faculty board has the authority to issue a Requirement to Withdraw for Academic Performance, which must indicate the required transcript notation in accordance with the Policy on Transcript Terminology for Students Withdrawing from Queen’s University.

Written Rulings & Information about Appeals

40. Any decision about a departure from academic integrity or academic standing shall be communicated in writing to the student. The decision shall also advise if the student has a right to appeal, and if so, it shall state the person or body to whom the appeal must be made and the deadline for appealing.

Internal Academic Appeals

41. Faculties and Schools shall have clearly defined levels of internal appeals and clear policies that set out the person or body to whom appeals are brought at each level and the deadlines for making an appeal to each level. The policies should also include guidelines for processing internal appeals from the filing of the appeal to the rendering of the decision. The guidelines must be consistent with the objective that appeals be determined as expeditiously as possible.


E. System for Handling Appeals to University Student Appeal Board (USAB)

Jurisdiction of USAB

42. There shall be a University Student Appeal Board (USAB) with jurisdiction to hear the following types of appeals by students from the final academic decision-making body within their Faculty or School:

i. A decision that impedes a student’s academic standing. For clarity, USAB has the jurisdiction to review a decision if it results in the application of an academic regulation that impedes a student’s academic standing in a program, but USAB does not have the jurisdiction to review the academic regulation itself.

ii. A decision concerning a departure from academic integrity.

iii. Step-two decisions made by a Unit Head concerning an employment-related issue between an undergraduate teaching assistant and their course supervisor.

43. The Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) (“Provost”) or their designate may, in their sole discretion, refer any decision involving a departure from academic integrity directly to a proceeding before USAB if:

i. The Provost (or their designate) is satisfied that an internal appeal of the decision cannot be made in accordance with the rules of procedural fairness; and,

ii. The matter has not been appealed to another body.

USAB will have full jurisdiction to impose any sanction that could have been made by a body with original jurisdiction over the matter, including requiring the student to withdraw. The Provost (or their designate) will be present at the USAB proceeding and will determine what sanction to seek from USAB.

44. USAB shall have no jurisdiction to consider the academic substance of decisions and assessments.

45. Subject to a proceeding before USAB under Paragraph 42, a proceeding before USAB shall not be a rehearing of the case presented to the decision-maker whose decision is under appeal – that is, the proceeding before USAB shall not be a hearing de novo. If a student’s appeal contains new evidence about something they claim affected their academic performance that, through no fault or omission of the student, was not known or was not available to the student at the time the prior decision was made, USAB shall have no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Rather, USAB shall remit the matter back to the previous decision-maker for reconsideration unless:

i. The delay of remitting the matter to the prior decision-maker would be unduly prejudicial to the student; or,

ii. The student’s new evidence clearly demonstrates bias in the prior proceeding that otherwise cannot be remedied.

Grounds for Appeal to USAB

46. USAB does not have the same discretion as the decision-maker whose decision is being appealed. USAB is intended to ensure that fair procedures have been followed and that there has not been a clear error in the exercise of discretion. Accordingly, the grounds for an appeal to USAB are limited to cases in which a student is able to establish that:

i. The decision-making body whose decision is being appealed failed to act in accordance with the rules of procedural fairness. A breach of procedural fairness includes such things as failing to:

  • Permit a student to be heard by an unbiased decision-maker.
  • Follow applicable rules, regulations, or university policy in a way that adversely affected a student’s right to a fair process.
  • Make a reasonable decision. A “reasonable” decision is one that is rational in that its findings are based on evidence, thought out and supported by facts and logical inferences from findings of fact. To be reasonable, the decision must contain adequate reasons for the conclusions. A decision should be upheld if it falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes, in which case USAB is not permitted to substitute its opinion for that of the decision-maker whose decision is under appeal.

ii. The decision-maker whose decision is being appealed to USAB acted without, or exceeded its, jurisdiction.

47. Keeping in mind the above grounds of appeal that USAB is permitted to consider, most appeals to USAB should not require the attendance of witnesses. However, if after reviewing the parties’ written submissions the Chair of USAB determines that information/evidence from a specific individual is required, (e.g. allegations of a decision- maker’s bias, improper conduct, etc.), the Chair of USAB can, with a copy to the appellant and the respondent(s) outlining the information/evidence being sought, invite the individual(s) to attend the proceeding and provide that information/evidence.

Decisions of USAB

In deciding an appeal, USAB may do one of the following:

i. Remit a matter for reconsideration by the decision-maker whose decision has been appealed to USAB, with directions or recommendations; a reconsideration decision may be appealed to USAB based on one of the Grounds for Appeal stated above.

ii. Modify the original decision, including making any decision that the original decision-maker could have made, but only where:

a. Proceeding in accordance with 48(i) would cause delay that prejudices the student’s rights; or,

b. USAB has made a finding of bias in the decision-making process below.

No Costs Reimbursement

49. Neither USAB nor any other decision-maker in the University has the power to direct that a student receive compensation for any costs or expenses incurred in the course of any University-based proceeding. Notwithstanding this, USAB may order that a student receive reimbursement for loss of a Queen’s University bursary, scholarship, or similar funds because ofa decision that was reversed on appeal. This remedy is available only if the student remains a student following the issuance of USAB’s decision, or, if the student graduated while their appeal was pending.

Composition of USAB

50. A USAB panel that hears an appeal shall normally consist of three members:

i. The Chair.

ii. One student, except that students in the Faculty of Law and the AMS or SGPS presidents or their delegates shall not be empaneled.

iii. One faculty member, excluding any Associate Dean, Vice-Dean, Dean, Vice Principal, and the Principal.

Normally and where feasible, at least one member of a USAB panel that hears an appeal should be a senator.

Chair of USAB

51. The Chair of USAB shall normally be a member of the Faculty of Law.

52. A roster of at least two USAB Chairs will be nominated by the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Senate for approval by Senate, each to serve for two-year renewable terms.

53. Those on the roster of USAB Chairs will determine who will Chair a USAB panel for any particular appeal.

54. In the event that the case-load of USAB requires, or in the event that none of the rostered Chairs is available, the University Secretary may appoint an Alternate Chair to preside over one or more cases.

55. For a proceeding involving a student enrolled in the Faculty of Law, the University Secretary shall appoint a member of the University community, a former law professor or some other person to serve as an Alternate Chair on a USAB panel, provided the person has an LLB/JD and experience in matters of administrative law.

56. An Alternate Chair shall have all of the powers of a rostered Chair of USAB under this Policy

Members of USAB Panel

57. The other members of each USAB panel shall be empaneled anew, and shall be appointed by the University Secretary, having regard to:

i. The availability of individuals to serve on USAB.

ii. The need to avoid conflicts of interest, bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias.

Panel members will be appointed by the University Secretary from a roster of members nominated by the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Senate for approval by Senate.

Functions of the Senate

58. USAB derives its authority from the Senate. Separate from any appeal decision it may issue, USAB may send a report or recommendations to the Senate (or to a relevant University decision-maker) about any matter of policy or principle arising from an appeal decided by USAB. Such report shall be anonymized.

59. The Senate shall continue to have authority to change any rules relating to departures from academic integrity, academic standing and academic appeals, but shall not do so retroactively. Any such change shall not apply to proceedings commenced prior to the change.


F. Appendices

APPENDIX "A" - POLICIES RELATED TO ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

Senate Policy on Academic Integrity – Requirements of Faculties and Schools

This document outlines certain procedural requirements of Faculties and Schools, including the essential requirements of any investigation into an academic integrity concern, while also providing guidance regarding jurisdiction, offences, and sanctions.

Senate Policy on Integrity in Research

This Policy outlines the requirements and responsibilities of members of the Queen’s community with respect to the conduct of research and scholarly activities in a manner consistent with the highest standards of ethical and scientific practice.

Faculty Jurisdiction with Respect to Student Appeals of Academic Decisions

This policy establishes that the jurisdiction for matters of academic appeal should, in all instances, reside in the student’s home faculty to minimize the possibility of confusion for students. Each student is expected to gain a working knowledge of the regulations governing the faculty in which they are registered.

SUBJECT MATTER EXCLUSIVE TO OTHER UNIVERSITY POLICIES

Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy

This policy deals with behaviour and conduct that may be characterized as harassment, discrimination or reprisal. Discrimination is prohibited based on the protected grounds set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code: race, gender identity, ancestry, gender expression, place of origin, age (18 years or older), colour, record of offences (employment only), ethnic origin, marital status, citizenship, family status, creed, sexual orientation, sex, and disability. The Policy has an accompanying Complaint Procedure and a Reporting Procedure. Individuals who do not allege that they have personally experienced Discrimination, Harassment or Reprisal but have witnessed or become aware of such behaviour do not file Complaints but should refer to the Reporting Procedure.

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct is a behavioural contract that communicates behavioural expectations to foster a positive community and to support a safe campus environment for everyone. Upon registering in a course or program of study offered by or through Queen’s University and while a Student remains registered in any course or program of study at Queen’s, every Student enters into a contractual relationship with the University by which they: (i) acknowledge the right of the University to set standards of conduct; (ii) accept and agree to be subject to the University’s policies, rules and procedures, including this Code of Conduct; and, (iii) accept the right of the University and/or its Authorized Agent(s) to impose sanctions for conduct found to have violated those standards, policies, rules or procedures.

Students at Risk Policy

Queen’s University has the right and the responsibility to respond to situations where a student’s actions or behaviours present or have the potential to create risks or threats of violence or harm to self or others in the university community. This policy guides the university response for students who are identified as being potentially at risk.

RELATED UNIVERSITY POLICIES

Teaching Assistants at Queen’s University

The general purpose of this policy is to provide a common frame of reference with respect to the hiring and funding of Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (TAs) at Queen’s University as well as the rights and responsibilities of TAs and the University. The guidelines and procedures articulated in the policy are intended to enhance the undergraduate learning and teaching environment.

APPENDIX "B" - TIMELINES AND REQUIREMENTS FOR USAB PROCEEDINGS

WHO WHAT WHEN
Student (Appellant)

File Notice of Appeal

[Form 26(a)]

Within 2 weeks after decision being appealed

By Email to Secretary of USAB

USABSecretary@queensu.ca

Rostered USAB Chairs Select Chair for the Appeal When Notice of Appeal is filed
University Secretary Empanels other USAB members for the Appeal Any time after Notice of Appeal filed
Respondent

File Response

[Form 26(b)]

Within 2 weeks after receiving Notice of Appeal from USAB, with Student’s Schedules A, B and C
Student (Appellant) Conflict of interest noted with any named USAB panel members No less than 5 calendar days prior to the date of the oral presentation
USAB Invite Witnesses and Notify Parties After response has been filed but before scheduled meeting
USAB Notice of Oral Presentation 7 Days advance notice of the scheduled meeting
USAB Release written reasons for USAB’s decision in the proceeding Within 2 weeks after oral presentation meeting

APPENDIX "C" - FORMS

Form 26(a) Notice of Appeal (Fillable PDF)

Form 26(b) Response (Fillable PDF)