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Academic Appeals Policy

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) Academic decisions made by the University of Newcastle (University) are integral to the completion of programs and awards and student success. In ensuring that the integrity of academic decisions are upheld, the University will ensure that students are able to access appropriate mechanisms to appeal such decisions. 

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Policy establishes the principles that govern the appeal of an academic decision made on behalf of the University.

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Policy applies to:

  1. academic decisions regarding a student and in association with a University undergraduate coursework program, postgraduate coursework program, an undergraduate or postgraduate course, non-award courses, and enabling programs.

(4) This Policy does not apply to:

  1. Higher Degree by Research Programs or candidates (please refer to Higher Degree by Research Policy);
  2. English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) student academic decisions (please refer to English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Program Manual);
  3. student academic decisions relating to the Joint Medical Program (please refer to Joint Medical Program Schedule);
  4. student misconduct matters dealt with under the provisions of the Student Conduct Rule; or
  5. complaints dealt with under the provisions of the Complaint Management Policy.
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Section 4 - Definitions

(5) In the context of this document the following definitions apply:

  1. “Academic decision” refers to a decision made by a University staff member or committee where the outcome of the decision has significant impact on the student's enrolment, progress or program completion;
  2. “Original decision maker” – means a staff member of the University who has made an academic decision;
  3. “Principles of procedural fairness” requires that:
    1. the decision maker is impartial, and free from actual or apparent bias;
    2. the student whose interests will be affected by a decision receives a fair hearing, including the opportunity to respond to any adverse material that could influence the decision; and
    3. a finding is based on evidence that is relevant and logically capable of supporting the findings made.
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Section 5 - Principles

(6) A student may lodge an appeal against an academic decision. The University and its staff will support a student in making an appeal, and will ensure the process is discrimination free, confidential, and respectful.

(7) A student is not permitted to lodge multiple appeals against a single academic decision.

(8) An appeal against an academic decision is permitted where:

  1. there is evidence that the relevant procedure for dealing with the matter was not complied with;
  2. there is evidence to establish that there was a lack of procedural fairness; or
  3. new information, that was not able to be obtained at the time of the original decision, has become available and should be taken into consideration.

(9) The University reserves the right to not consider an appeal, where the appeal:

  1. is not in accordance with the provisions of clause 8;
  2. cannot be supported by sufficient evidence;
  3. is solely on the basis of disagreement with the original decision; or
  4. is considered to be vexatious, frivolous or misconceived.

(10) An appeal made by a student must:

  1. clearly stipulate the basis on which the appeal is being made;
  2. be supported by all relevant evidence;
  3. be made in writing (digital or handwritten).

(11) A relevant University appeal procedure may:

  1. establish timeframes for submitting, considering and determining the appeal;
  2. provide for additional valid or invalid grounds for appeal; and
  3. dictate the method of submitting an appeal (please refer to Section 6 – Relevant Procedures).

(12) Prior to making an appeal a student should attempt to resolve the matter with the assistance of the College or business unit responsible for the original decision.

(13) A student will remain enrolled at the University until an appeal is resolved, unless their enrolment is impacted by a different or related matter being considered under the provisions of the Student Conduct Rule.

Appeal Decision Makers

(14) Appeals against a final result must be dealt with by the relevant College Progress and Appeals Committee or Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre Progress and Appeals Committee. Appeals against all other academic decisions must be dealt with by a University staff member who:

  1. is not the original decision maker; 
  2. holds a position that is at least one management level above the original decision maker; and
  3. is appointed to a position that holds appropriate delegated authority to consider the matter and make a determination (see Delegations Register).

(15) All staff members or committee members considering an appeal must comply with the University's Conflict of Interest Policy and its associated procedure.

Considering an Appeal

(16) A staff member or committee considering an appeal may:

  1. seek further information from the original decision maker;
  2. seek further information from the student making the appeal; and/or
  3. invite the student to attend an appeal hearing in person or via video conference (e.g. Zoom).

(17) A student attending an appeal hearing is permitted to bring a support person to the hearing. The support person is not permitted to present evidence at the hearing, and will only be permitted to speak at the hearing upon invitation by the committee or staff member considering the appeal.

(18) An appeal must be considered on the basis of:

  1. the material and evidence that was considered by the original decision maker;
  2. any new or fresh evidence that was submitted by the student in making the appeal, or responding to a request for further information; and
  3. the submission made by the student to request the appeal.

(19) The consideration of all appeals will be timely and transparent, and conducted according to the principles of procedural fairness.

(20) The process undertaken to consider an appeal must comply with all relevant legislation and University policy.

Appeal Determinations

(21) The outcome of an appeal will be advised in writing to the student, and will be either:

  1. the appeal is dismissed; or
  2. the appeal is partially upheld; or
  3. the appeal is fully upheld.

(22) A notification of an outcome of an appeal will provide sufficient information to the student to:

  1. establish that the principles of procedural fairness have been upheld;
  2. provide transparency in relation to how the determination was made;
  3. notify the student of support services available to them; and
  4. notify the student of any further available avenues of appeal, external review or complaint.

(23) If a determination is made to dismiss the appeal, the original decision will remain.

(24) If a determination is made to uphold the appeal, the actions to be taken by the University will be notified to the student in writing. The staff member or committee determining to uphold an appeal is responsible for ensuring all actions to be taken by the University are undertaken in a timely manner.

(25) The original decision maker will be notified of the outcome of an appeal against their decision.

(26) Once a determination is made the student will have no further avenue of appeal within the University, unless provided for in the relevant appeals procedure. A student may have access to an external review process, such as through the NSW Ombudsman.

Record Management

(27) All records relating to appeals must be managed in accordance with the Records Governance Policy.

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Section 6 - Relevant Procedures

Academic Decision Relevant Appeal Procedure
Final result Course Management and Assessment Manual
Credit  Academic Credit Manual
Sanction applied for academic progress Student Academic Progress Procedure
Leave of absence  Enrolment Manual
Admission Admissions Manual - Coursework and Enabling Programs
Adverse Circumstances Adverse Circumstances Affecting Assessment Items Procedure
Re-enrolment into original program (Bachelor of Education Studies) Bachelor of Education Studies Schedule
Re-enrolment into original program (Graduate Diploma in Education Studies) Graduate Diploma in Education Studies Schedule
Entry into Final (Fourth) Year – (Bachelor of Psychology Honours) and Bachelor of Psychological Science) Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and Bachelor of Psychological Science Schedule