REQUESTS TO INSTRUCTOR, DEPARTMENT CHAIR, AND FACULTY DEAN
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT ACADEMIC APPEALS
The University Senate has delegated to Deans the right to waive any academic regulation. The Deans' rulings in academic matters are final unless overturned or modified on appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA). SRBA is the final body to which students may appeal certain rulings of Deans in academic matters, and its decisions are final.
Note: Throughout this document, reference to "Dean" is to be interpreted "Dean or his/her designate" and reference to "Department Chair" is to be interpreted "Department Chair or his/her designate".
Requests for relief for undergraduate students ordinarily proceed in this order:
- Course instructor (informal consultation)*
- Department Chair (submission of written request)
- Faculty Dean (submission of written request)
* A request for relief relating to a specific course (e.g., with respect to a mark, grade, appropriateness of assignments or examinations, or grading practices) must be initiated with the appropriate course instructor. Requests for relief 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 to initiate such requests should consult their Dean. Scholastic offences will be handled in accordance with the Policy on Scholastic Discipline.
- In the BMOS Program, "Department Chair" shall be interpreted as "Program Director" (in the Faculty of Social Science) or "Program Coordinator" (at Huron University College) (effective May 1, 2006).
- In the Faculty of Health Sciences, "Department Chair" shall be interpreted as "School Director".
- In the case of courses offered by the Writing, Rhetoric and Professional Communication Program, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, including certificate-credit and diploma-credit courses, “Department
Chair” shall be interpreted as “Director, Writing Program.”
- Normally, a request for relief in a Certificate-credit or Diploma-credit course will proceed as set out above. Except as otherwise noted, in cases where a certificate-credit or diploma-credit course is offered by a Faculty with department structure, but is not offered by a particular department, a request for relief will proceed directly from the instructor to the Dean of the Faculty.
In a course offered by Continuing Studies at Western, "Department Chair" shall be interpreted as "Director of Continuing Studies at Western" and "Faculty Dean" shall be interpreted as "Dean of the partnering Faculty".
- In the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, "Faculty Dean" shall be interpreted as "Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities" (effective July 1, 2006).
- In the School of Social Work, King’s University College, "Department Chair" shall be interpreted as "School Director".
Requests for Relief
A student may request that a grade on a particular piece of work or a final standing in a course or program be changed; OR a student may request an exemption from a Senate academic regulation.
The subject of a request for relief can range from waiver of progression requirements to accuracy of grades on examinations or assignments, to appropriateness of sanctions imposed for scholastic offences. Such a request can include questions of fairness or appropriateness of general grading practices, and can be launched regardless of whether a record of the student's work exists.
Examples of relief that can be considered by a Dean:
- waiver of a Senate regulation or requirement.
- allowing the opportunity for reexamination or reassessment.
- directing the adjustment of a grade on a particular piece of work following the report of an independent assessor.
[It is possible that a grade may be lowered as a result of reassessment.]
- directing the adjustment of grades in the case of a request for relief against general marking or grading practices.
[This form of relief does not extend to the reevaluation of the work submitted.]
- setting aside or adjusting a ruling at a previous level that a scholastic offence occurred or adjusting the severity of a sanction imposed for a scholastic offence.
Not all types of relief are suitable for any given request. 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 grounds for a request for relief may be one or more of: medical or compassionate circumstances, extenuating circumstances beyond the appellant's control, bias, inaccuracy or unfairness. All grounds advanced in a request for relief must be supported by a clear and detailed explanation of the reasons for the request together with all supporting documentation.
Deadlines for Requests for Relief
Ignorance of Senate regulations and policies and particular program requirements and policies as set out in the University Calendar does not constitute grounds for a request for relief.
Marks: A request for relief against a mark or grade must be initiated with the instructor as soon as possible after the mark is issued. In the event that the instructor is not available to the student, or fails to act, or if the matter is not resolved satisfactorily with the instructor, a written request for relief must be submitted to the Chair of the department within three weeks from the date that the mark was issued. In the case of a final grade in a course, the written request for relief must be submitted to the Chair of the department by the following dates:
|January Marks:||January 31st|
|April/May Marks:||June 30th|
|May/June Dentistry Marks:||July 31st|
|Summer Evening:||August 31st|
|Summer Day:||September 15th|
|Spring/Summer Distance Studies Courses:||October 15th|
A request for relief against a decision of the Chair must be made to the Dean in writing not later than three weeks after the Chair's decision is issued. All relevant information and documentation must be provided to the Dean with the request for relief.
Program eligibility and progression: A request for relief against a decision concerning program eligibility must be made to the Chair of the department in writing by June 30th. A request against a decision of the Chair must be made to the Dean in writing within three weeks of the Chair's decision being issued. Students requesting a Dean’s Waiver of Progression Requirements must do so in writing to the Dean of their Faculty by June 30th (if required to withdraw at the end of April), or within 30 days of the posting of grades on the Western web site by the Office of the Registrar (if required to withdraw following any other session).
Other requests for relief: Requests for relief regarding Scholastic Offences and other matters not related to the normal completion of a course during a regular academic session (including requests for relief against grades in a Special Examination, satisfaction of "Incomplete" requirements, etc.), must be made in writing within three weeks of the date of a decision being issued.
- In the Medical Program, a request for relief against a mark must be initiated with the instructor within four weeks of the mark being approved by the appropriate administrative committee. All other requests for relief must be made within four weeks of the date of the decision giving rise to the request for relief. A request for relief to each successive level of appeal must be made within four weeks of the date of the decision at the prior level.
- In the Faculty of Law, a request for relief against a final grade in a course must be submitted to the Dean by March 1st for First Term Marks; by April 1st for January Term Marks; and, by June 30th for Spring Term Marks. All other applicable deadlines are as set out above.
- In the Richard Ivey School of Business, a request for relief against a mark must be initiated with the instructor within six weeks of the mark being issued. All other requests for relief must be made within six weeks of the date of the decision giving rise to the request for relief. A request for relief to each successive level of appeal must be made within six weeks of the date of the decision at the prior level.
- The deadline for an appeal to SRBA remains at six weeks after a decision has been issued by a student's Dean. Under the Policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities, a student must apply to SRBA within two weeks of the Dean’s decision.
It is incumbent on the student to initiate each step at the earliest opportunity and on the university officer concerned to act upon that request as expeditiously as possible. In the case of a request for relief relating to a specific course, a resolution of the problem should first be attempted through informal consultation with the instructor. If the student is dissatisfied with the decision of the instructor, or if the instructor fails to act, or cannot or will not be physically available within a reasonable time period, a written request for relief may be submitted directly to the department Chair or to the Dean in faculties without departmental structure.
Following a request for relief by an undergraduate student to a department Chair, the student, if not satisfied with the decision of the Chair, may then submit a written request to the Dean of the faculty in which the course or program was taken. In the case of requests for relief relating to: (a) the grade on a piece of work or final standing in a course or a regulation relating to a specific course, the relevant Dean will be the Dean of the faculty offering that course; and (b) enrollment in a specific program, the relevant Dean will be the Dean of the faculty offering that program.
A written request need not be lengthy, but should indicate clearly the detailed reasons for the request and the relief requested. All relevant supporting documentation must be attached.
In the case of a scholastic offence, the procedures for a request for relief are set out in the Policy on Scholastic Discipline.
A student may appeal the decision of a Dean to the Senate Review Board Academic only if the decision falls within the jurisdiction of SRBA as set out below under APPEALS TO SRBA. A Dean's decision which is appealed to SRBA remains in full force and effect unless overturned or modified by SRBA.
APPEALS TO SRBA
In addition to jurisdiction conferred upon SRBA by any other Senate regulation or policy, SRBA has jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain academic decisions of Deans, other than those relating to admission and advanced standing, provided that the appellant has followed the procedures set out above for requesting relief at the earlier levels and provided that SRBA otherwise has jurisdiction to consider the appeal as set out below.
- For scholastic offence appeals, a student has the right to an oral hearing before SRBA if the appeal is against a finding that the student's conduct amounted to a "scholastic offence" and/or for relief against the penalty imposed by the Dean as a result of a "scholastic offence".
- For other appeals, a student may apply for an oral hearing before SRBA in the following circumstances:
A panel of SRBA, upon considering only the written application of the student (see Application for Hearing, below), may in its discretion order that an oral hearing be scheduled, or deny the appeal. In making its decision, SRBA will consider the grounds and evidence provided in the Application for Hearing. In the case of 2.a, the student must set out in the Details of the Appeal both the Senate regulation and the alleged error, as well as explain how this error affected the student’s academic performance.
- the student alleges that there has been a failure to follow, or to properly apply, a Senate regulation; or
- the Dean's decision requires the student to withdraw from a program, from the University or from an Affiliated University College; or
- the appeal is against general marking or grading practices; or
- the appeal is against a Dean’s decision made with respect to the Policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.
- In exceptional circumstances, SRBA may agree to an oral hearing of an appeal against a Dean's decision that does not fall within #1 or #2 above, if a student alleges in the Application for Hearing that there was a failure to observe a procedural requirement at the decanal level or bias at the decanal level. Such allegations must be supported by evidence. A detailed description of the evidence supporting the allegation (including any supporting documentation) must be presented, in writing, as part of the Application for Hearing. SRBA will request a written response from the Dean before making a decision. The student will be provided with a copy of the Dean's response and will be given the opportunity to reply to it in writing. If SRBA is satisfied on the basis of the written documentation that there was a failure to observe a procedural requirement at the decanal level it may instruct the Dean to reconsider the matter. If the SRBA panel agrees to an oral hearing of an appeal alleging a failure to observe a procedural requirement at the decanal level or bias at the decanal level, the standard onus requirements set out below will apply.
Note: A denial of transfer into a Faculty, School, Affiliated University College or program following a requirement to withdraw from another Faculty, School, Affiliated University College or program at the University may not be appealed to SRBA. The denial of transfer is an admission decision and is therefore outside SRBA's jurisdiction.
If a party wishes to challenge the jurisdiction of SRBA to hear a particular matter, the party must give written notice with reasons to the Chair of SRBA prior to the date of the hearing. The Chair, upon receipt of such notice, or in any other circumstances where it appears to the Chair that there is a question as to whether the SRBA has jurisdiction to hear a matter, may in his/her discretion convene a panel to consider such written arguments as it deems appropriate and decide the issue of jurisdiction. The decision of any such panel shall be binding on any subsequent panel hearing the merits of the appeal.
- The onus is on the student to satisfy SRBA that the ruling of the Dean was unreasonable or unsupportable on the evidence before the Dean; or, with respect to a sanction imposed for a "scholastic offence," that the penalty was unreasonable.
- Notwithstanding #1 above, in cases where a Dean made a finding that a student's conduct amounted 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 Dean to satisfy SRBA that the student committed the alleged acts and that the acts amounted to a "scholastic offence."
- The onus requirements set out in #1 and #2 for an appeal against a finding that a student's conduct amounted to a "scholastic offence" or against the sanction imposed for a scholastic offence, apply mutatis mutandis to an appeal against a finding that there has been a breach of other University policies such as the Policy and Procedures for the Conduct of Research, or an appeal against the sanction imposed for such breach.
- Where an appeal falls under the Policy on Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities, the onus is on the Faculty to persuade SRBA that the suggested accommodation or accommodations would compromise the academic integrity of the course or program in light of the essential requirements of that course or program.
SRBA will consider only that evidence that was before the Dean whose decision is being appealed. Evidence that was not before the Dean will not be considered unless SRBA determines that it is relevant, significant and could not have been available at an earlier stage through reasonable efforts. If additional documentary evidence is submitted it must be accompanied by a written explanation as to why the evidence is relevant and significant and why it was not previously available. Similarly, if either party intends to call a witness whose evidence was not before the Dean, the party must file with the University Secretariat prior to the hearing a written explanation as to why such evidence is relevant and significant and why it was not previously available.
Copies of all documentation that the parties intend to present at the hearing, together with a copy of the appellant's official transcript of academic record (obtained by the University Secretariat from the Office of the Registrar), will be distributed to both parties (appellant and Dean) and to the members of SRBA serving on the hearing panel by the University Secretariat prior to the date of the hearing.
In granting an appeal, SRBA will grant such relief as it deems appropriate.
Application for Hearing
Appeals to the SRBA must be made on an Application for Hearing which must be filed with the University 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. An Application for Hearing will not be accepted by the University Secretariat unless the application is complete. A complete application will include the following: details of the appeal, including a description of the matter under appeal and the reasons for challenging the Dean's decision; the requested relief; a copy of the Dean's decision; a copy of the student's letter to the Dean requesting relief, if applicable; and all relevant supporting documentation. Applications for a hearing by the SRBA and further details on hearing procedures may be obtained from the University Secretariat, Room 290, Stevenson-Lawson Building.
A request from a party to postpone a scheduled hearing, or to delay scheduling a hearing after an Application has been filed, will be at the discretion of the Chair of SRBA and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. Such postponement or delay shall not exceed six months. The parties will then be contacted to arrange a hearing date. (If the appellant cannot be contacted to arrange a hearing date, he/she will be notified of the hearing date by registered mail at the address set out in the Application.) SRBA will proceed in the absence of one or more parties if it is satisfied that the parties were notified of the hearing date.
If, following receipt of an Application for Hearing, the University Secretariat is unable to contact the appellant within a reasonable time to schedule a hearing, the appellant will be notified by registered mail at the address on the Application for Hearing of the deadline by which he/she must contact the University Secretariat (six months from the date the Application for Hearing was filed) to arrange a hearing. If the appellant has not contacted the University Secretariat by the specified deadline, the Application and documentation will be returned to the appellant and may not be resubmitted.
* Under the Policy on Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities, an appeal to the SRBA must be filed within two weeks of the date of the Dean's decision.
SRBA is the final level of academic appeal in the University; its decisions in substantive matters, and decisions as to jurisdiction and whether it will hear an appeal, are final. The Chair of Senate (i.e., the President & Vice-Chancellor) will entertain appeals against decisions of SRBA only when a party alleges a serious procedural error by SRBA. An appeal to the Chair of Senate must be filed in writing within two weeks
of the date of the Notice of Decision of SRBA. After inviting written arguments from the parties, the Chair of Senate may order that the matter be re-heard by SRBA if the Chair of Senate is satisfied that, as a result of a serious procedural error by SRBA, the parties did not have an opportunity to present their case in accordance with the PROCEDURE AT HEARINGS
) and it could not be said that the parties had been accorded a fair hearing.
Undergraduate Student Academic Appeals S.03-077b
Requests to Instructor, Department Chair, and Faculty Dean S.06-31
Appeals to SRBASR.04-63