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Academic Appeals for Coursework Students – the appeals process at a glance

 

Stage 1 – Informal Appeal

Your responsibility

If you are concerned about an academic decision, make an informal appeal either in writing or in person to the relevant decision maker, or via informal review for special consideration and arrangements matters. Do this within 15 working days of the decision.

The University’s responsibility

The relevant decision maker should deal with the issue promptly and give you a full explanation for the decision. If not resolved they need to explain the next step in the appeals procedure and refer you to a copy of the Appeals Rule.

Stage 2 – Formal Appeal

Your responsibility

If concerns are not resolved or you believe there was a failure to follow due process, you may lodge a formal appeal to the relevant Faculty or the Academic Panel (for Special Consideration and Arranagements) within 20 working days of the informal decision.

The University’s responsibility

The relevant person considering your appeal should acknowledge receipt within 3 working days and make reasonable efforts to respond to your appeal within 10 working days. Be aware that there can be delays and if concerned you may request an update on your appeal and in most cases you should receive a response.

Stage 3 – Appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB)

Your responsibility

If concerns are still not resolved by formal appeal you may lodge an appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB). Your appeal needs to show it is within time, you have a Faculty level appeal outcome, and explains why you believe due process was not followed. SAB appeals must be lodged within 15 working days of the formal decision.

The University’s responsibility

If it is confirmed you have fulfilled the requirements for a SAB appeal, you will receive confirmation of a hearing date at least 10 working days in advance of an appeal hearing. The written outcome provided after the hearing is the final decision at the University.

Academic Appeals for Coursework Students

 

What is an appeal?

The University of Sydney provides all enrolled students with an internal process for appealing decisions made by the University that impact your academic progression.

The University does not give an exhaustive list of what you can and cannot appeal, so you need to clearly identify what you are appealing and make a well-reasoned argument. Common decisions that are appealed include:

  • A mark on an essay or exam
  • The overall mark in a unit of study
  • A fail grade or removal from a placement
  • A finding of plagiarism or misconduct
  • A decline of a special consideration or special arrangements application
  • A decline of credit for previous study.

For appeals against exclusion from a coursework degree we recommend you read SUPRA’s Show Cause and Exclusion Survival Kit. For appeals against termination of a Higher Degree by Research candidature, please see SUPRA’s HDR Guide.

See also: Special Consideration and Arrangements.

For appeals regarding academic credit, students should contact the Student Credit Team: sc.credit@sydney.edu.au. You have a right to appeal a decision on credit by writing to the Academic Panel, details of which can be found on the University webpage on Special Consideration and Arrangements.

 

Are there things I cannot appeal?

You must identify a lack of due process, which means explaining how the decision failed to properly follow one or more University of Sydney policies or procedures, i.e. an essay marked without following the published marking criteria.

  • Receiving a poor mark or grade alone is not grounds for appeal. Working hard and unexpectedly failing is also not grounds for an appeal
  • It may be difficult to appeal an academic’s judgment, expertise, or discretionary powers, e.g. appealing a failed placement where your supervisor assesses your performance as incorrect or inadequate, since your supervisor is using their expertise in making the decision. Students who want to appeal a mark or grade may receive the response that the outcome was awarded according to the academic judgement of the marker. If you fail placement and are not satisfied with the feedback SUPRA recommends you contact us for advice
  • Simple Extensions (up to 2 working day extensions at the discretion of your unit coordinator) are informal arrangements and cannot be appealed
  • Sometimes what you are disputing might constitute a non-academic complaint rather than an appeal. See also: Non-Academic Complaints.

 

Stages of Appeal

 

1. Informal Appeal

This stage is mandatory. You must commence the Informal Appeal process within 15 working days of the date the academic decision was made.

An academic decision must provide sufficient information for you to understand the reasons for the decision. Many Informal Appeals are requests for further feedback on an academic decision. Most unit coordinators are happy to give further feedback on a mark or grade when requested, but are not usually inclined to change a mark or grade without being presented with strong reasons.

If the assessment is an exam you should review the exam paper before considering contacting your unit coordinator. The Faculty will schedule exam review times, but if you miss these you may email your unit coordinator to request a review of your exam paper. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction you will be referred to a Formal Faculty Appeal.

Contact the relevant teacher, unit coordinator or administrative unit that was responsible for the decision. Depending on your Faculty, you either need to complete a form or send an email to the relevant staff member. Advice on how to make an Informal Appeal can be found on the University website: https://sydney.edu.au/students/academic-appeals/resolution.html

Note that for final exams you may not be able to receive a response by your unit coordinator before staff go on holiday or university shuts down for the summer break. The important thing is to email your unit coordinator before 15 working days of the decision, as this ensures your informal appeal is within time, regardless of a response.

 

2. Formal (Faculty Level) Appeal

This level of appeal requires you to submit a formal appeal to your Faculty within 20 working days of receiving the outcome of your Informal Appeal.

A formal Faculty level appeal requires you to write a letter stating your reasons for challenging the academic decision. The appeal letter should explain how there was a lack of due process, and confirm that you have undertaken an Informal Appeal but are unsatisfied with the outcome. It should include a copy of your previous Informal Appeal with any attached documentation. It should also include the date of the Informal Appeal outcome to show you are lodging your formal appeal within the 20-working day deadline.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your appeal within 3 working days, and the Faculty should make reasonable efforts to provide a formal response within 10 working days.

It is important to lodge your appeal on time. If you are late in lodging a Faculty level appeal, the Faculty will not usually accept the appeal unless you are able to give a reasonable explanation for the delay with evidence. Not knowing the appeals policy, or being on holidays during the appeals timeframe, are not considered valid reasons for lateness.

Directions on how to lodge a Faculty level appeal are found on the University website: https://sydney.edu.au/students/academic-appeals/faculty-academic-panel-appeal.html

 

3. SAB (University Level) Appeal

If you are not satisfied with the response to your Faculty level appeal, you can appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB). SAB appeals need to be lodged within 15 workings days of the decision on your Faculty level appeal.

To appeal to the SAB, you must write a letter explaining how the Faculty breached due process in their decision on your formal appeal. This means explaining how the decision failed to properly follow one or more University of Sydney policies or procedures. If your appeal meets this requirement, it will be considered by the SAB. If the SAB decides not to proceed to a hearing, this decision can’t be appealed.

The University appeal decision-making process involves a meeting or ‘hearing’, where you and a representative from your Faculty meet with the panel to answer any questions regarding your appeal. The SAB panel is made up of three people: The Chair of the Academic Board (or their nominee), an academic, and a student representative. None of these panel members will be from your Faculty to ensure neutrality in decision-making. You have a right to request a support person or advocate, such as a SUPRA SAAO, to attend the SAB hearing with you.

Once your University level appeal is accepted and before your hearing, the Faculty will be given the opportunity to provide a response in writing. You will receive this response from the Student Affairs Unit (SAU) at least 5 working days before a hearing.

It is important to know the SAB cannot force a Faculty to revise a decision. The SAB makes recommendations that are not binding on a Faculty. However, the majority of SAB recommendations are usually accepted by Faculties.

Information and advice about how to lodge your SAB appeal are found on the University website: https://sydney.edu.au/students/academic-appeals/sab-appeal.html

 

Am I still enrolled if I lodge an academic appeal?

You must be a currently enrolled student to lodge an appeal. While your appeal is being considered at any stage, you will remain enrolled in your course until all levels of appeal are exhausted or decided.

 

Can I appeal a group work decision?

You may appeal the individual mark you are awarded for your contribution to a group assignment, and also against a finding of academic dishonesty for a group work assignment. If you are unhappy about a group work result and considering an appeal, seek advice from SUPRA.

 

What if my academic appeal is still not resolved?

One external complaint option is to contact the NSW Ombudsman. For local students, recommendations by the NSW Ombudsman are non-binding on the University, though you can usually expect them to be followed. For international students, Federal Government requirements mean the University is required to implement any decision or corrective action the NSW Ombudsman recommends.

The Ombudsman will only investigate complaints on limited types of conduct. For more information on the NSW Ombudsman:
(02) 9286 1000
ombo.nsw.gov.au

 

Useful tips

  • Use email rather than phone calls or face-to-face conversations so you have written documentation. If you have a face-to-face meeting, send an email as confirmation of what was discussed
  • Read your Unit of Study Outline at the beginning of semester so you understand the content and assessments, late penalties, and whether your unit coordinator will allow Simple Extensions
  • Make sure you receive sufficient feedback on each assessment task as you progress towards the final assessment of a unit.

Student Appeals website:
https://sydney.edu.au/students/academic-appeals.html

 

Policies

University of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule 2006 (as amended)
Coursework Policy 2014
Assessment Procedures 2011
Student Complaints Procedures 2015

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