An appeal is a request for exemption from a Senate regulation or the ruling of a Dean in academic matters; or a request that a grade on a particular piece of work or a final standing in a course or program be changed.
The subject of an appeal can range from waiver of progression requirements to accuracy of grades on examinations or assignments, to appropriateness of sanctions imposed for scholastic offenses. An appeal can include questions of fairness or appropriateness or general grading practices, and can be launched regardless of whether a record of the student's work exists.
The grounds of an appeal may include medical, compassionate, or extenuating circumstances; bias, inaccuracy or unfairness.
The successive levels for an appeal by an undergraduate student are:
- Course Instructor (informal consultation)*
- Program Chair (submission of written request)
- Faculty Dean (submission of written request)
- SRBA (submission of written application for hearing)
*Appeals relating to a specific course (e.g., against a mark, grade appropriateness of assignments, or grading practices) must be initiated with the appropriate course instructor. Appeals on other matters should be initiated in the office having immediate jurisdiction for the particular requirement or regulation in question. Students in doubt as to the appropriate level at which appeals should be initiated should consult their Dean.
Each step of the appeals procedure should be completed as soon as possible but no later than six weeks from the date of the action or decision giving rise to the appeal. It is incumbent, therefore, on the student to initiate an appeal at the earliest opportunity and on the University officer concerned to act upon that request as expeditiously as possible.
In the case of an appeal relating to a specific course, a resolution of the problem should first be attempted through informal consultation with the instructor. If the instructor fails to act, or cannot or will not be physically available within a reasonable time period, the appeal may be forwarded directly to the Program Chair.
An appeal to each successive level may be made if the student is dissatisfied with the decision at the previous level, but must be made in writing within six weeks of the date of the previous decision. The written request need not be lengthy but should indicate clearly the details of the appeal and the relief requested.
Following an appeal to a Program Chair, the student, if not satisfied with the decision of the Chair, may then appeal to the Dean of the Faculty in which the course or program was taken. In the case of appeals relating to the grade on a piece of work or final standing in a course, a regulation relating to a specific course, or to enrolment in a specific program, the relevant Dean will be the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies which offers that course or program. In the case of appeals of a grade or mark on a particular piece of work, the Dean may hire an independent assessor to render an advisory judgment.
Only after receiving a final decision from a Dean may a student appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic.
SRBA can consider only those specific reliefs requested in the appeal to the Dean.
Examples of reliefs that can be offered by SRBA are:
- Waiver of a Senate regulation or requirement.
- Setting aside or adjusting a Dean's ruling
- allowing the opportunity for re-examination or re-assessment
- reducing the severity of a sanction imposed for a scholastic offence
- directing the adjustment of a grade on a particular piece of work following the report of an independent assessor.
- Directing the Dean to ensure the adjustment of grades in the case of an appeal against general marking or grading practices. (While each Faculty has the right to determine its own marking or grading practices, the SRBA has jurisdiction to deal with allegations of gross unfairness, bias, or inaccuracy in these practices. This form of relief does not extend to the re-evaluation of the work submitted.)
Not all types of relief are suitable for any given appeal. For example, in the absence of an adequate permanent record of the student's work, the only form of relief that might be appropriate would be allowing the opportunity for reassessment.
The onus is on the student to satisfy the SRBA that there exists sufficient medical or compassionate grounds or extenuating circumstances to warrant waiving a Senate regulation or ruling of a Dean. Medical or compassionate grounds require evidence.
In the case of an appeal on a particular piece of work, the student must raise a reasonable doubt as to the accuracy or fairness of the grade or final standing in question before the SRBA will institute procedures to secure an independent assessment, in which case the piece of work in question (examination paper, essay, etc.) will be sent to the assessor for recommendation.
Where the student appeals for relief against the penalty imposed by the Faculty as a result of a "scholastic offence", the onus is on the student to satisfy the SRBA that the penalty imposed is too harsh in the circumstances of the particular case.
In cases where a Faculty alleges that a student's conduct amounts to a "scholastic offence" and where the student denies either that the acts were committed or that the acts amounted to a "scholastic offence", the onus is on the Faculty to satisfy the SRBA that the student committed the alleged acts and that the acts amounted to a "scholastic offence".
SRBA may take jurisdiction to hear appeals from academic decisions by Deans, provided that the appellant has followed the appeal procedures set out above. SRBA is the final level of academic appeal in the University, and its decisions in substantive matters are final. The Chair of Senate (i.e., the President & Vice-Chancellor) will entertain only appeals of a procedural nature against decisions of SRBA. In matters of academic appeal, the right to legal counsel will be accorded only at the level of SRBA. However, a student may be accompanied to a meeting or hearing by a colleague who is a graduate student of the same division.
Appeals to the SRBA must be made on an Application for Hearing form which must be filed with the Senate Secretariat within six weeks of the date of the Dean's decision. Exceptions to the six week time limit for filing an appeal with the SRBA are at the discretion of the Chair of SRBA upon written application by the student. Applications for a hearing by the SRBA and further details on hearing procedures may be obtained from the Senate Secretariat, Stevenson Hall, StvH 4191.