Academic Appeals

The University Calendar provides detailed information on the University's regulations and procedures relating to academic appeals. In addition, each faculty has separate guidelines and procedures for formal appeals within the faculty. (Refer to Petition and Appeals Procedures section under the separate faculty headings in your University Calendar.)

If you are attempting to resolve a problem, it is always preferable to first try informal resolution by talking to the party directly involved in the dispute, such as your instructor or supervisor. If it is not resolved at this level, it can still be discussed informally with the chairperson of the department where the course is taught, especially if this is an issue related to grades, teaching methods, professional conduct or other classroom concerns.

Generally, most classroom-related problems or student-instructor conflict are resolved through the informal route. If you are unsure of how to approach an instructor or chairperson or adviser using an informal method of resolution or desire a mediated approach, you can use the services of the Student Advisor or the Office of the Student Ombuds.

After exhausting all informal channels, students have the right to a formal petition or appeal. A petition is a formal, written request that a particular regulation be waived. A petition is only heard once, and the decision is not appealable. An appeal is a formal, written request that a regulation be waived for extenuating circumstances. An appeal, unlike a petition, can proceed to higher levels of decision making if it fails at a lower level.

Before launching a petition or formal appeal, make sure that you understand why there is an appeal procedure. Learn how to present your case in a clear and objective way. Review these guidelines.

  1. The appeal procedure was established to deal with those instances where a student's academic standing has been adversely affected by a decision of the University. You must demonstrate that there has been a miscarriage of justice. Not every frustration of university life can or should become the object of an appeal. Ask this question, does this rule create a surmountable hardship or is it truly unjust?
  2. The best way to deal with appeals is to make them unnecessary by: being aware of the academic regulations of your faculty, keeping informed about deadlines, expressing your concerns about a course with the instructor very early in the term
  3. Decide the basis of the appeal before you make your dissatisfaction officially known. Examine your rights and options first.
  4. Don't launch an appeal when you are too angry to look at it objectively. Don't write the final draft of the appeal until you can write in a clear, objective manner. Review the original drafts and remove any slanderous comments and unsubstantiated comments.
  5. If you need assistance in seeing your situation from another perspective, contact the Student OmbudService who can look at the strengths and weaknesses of your case. These agencies can prepare you for the issues that will confront you. Your friends and family may be supportive but they cannot always provide an unbiased and informed viewpoint. You can also receive assistance with the preparation of your written appeal.
  6. The first person who should be made aware of your complaint is the person whose decision or action you are questioning. If it is a course problem, talk to your instructor. If it is another administrative matter, speak to the person who made the decision.
  7. Look at the possibility of a compromise. Evaluate the compromise to see whether it allows you to accomplish your goals. Avoid a posture of obstinacy. Approach your appeal with confidence. The University is concerned with you being treated fairly. If you encounter a negative reaction from certain staff members, don't be discouraged. You are after all exercising your rights to appeal.
  8. Problem resolution is part of our daily lives. No problem is so great that it cannot be solved. You learn valuable personal and career skills when you attempt to resolve your problems. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Accept responsibility for your actions.

In most faculties, students may write a petition requesting that a particular faculty regulation be waived because of extenuating circumstances. Each faculty has its own rules regarding petition procedures. Some faculties have petition forms; others require a written letter. Consult the responsible faculty for deadlines and regulations governing their appeal procedures. If you are not sure which faculty is responsible for your case, contact the Student OmbudService.

Students may petition their faculty for numerous reasons, including:

  • permission to take more than the maximum allowed junior courses for degree credit
  • permission to take courses for credit at another institution
  • carrying a reduced course load in certain programs
  • submitting the Application for Degree after the official deadline.

Students may submit appeals relating to decisions that affect their academic standing such as being:

  • required to withdraw from the University
  • required to withdraw or transfer from an Honors or Special Program
  • denied recommendation for graduation
  • denied promotion within the program
  • denied transfer from one program to another within the faculty.

Students cannot appeal a faculty's decision for admission and re-admission. Students cannot appeal grades beyond the faculty level. Students must always follow the academic appeal route, beginning at the lowest level of appeal, which is usually to the associate dean of the faculty or equivalent. If the appeal fails at the first level, students can then resort to the second level which is the Academic Appeals Committee or its equivalent. Should the second appeal fail, the student may then appeal to the General Faculties Council Academic Appeals Committee (GFCAAC) which is the highest and final level of appeal. The decision of the GFCAAC is final and binding.

The GFCAAC will only hear appeals that are based on a miscarriage of justice such as:

  • procedural errors on the part of the faculty;
  • failure of a faculty to consider all factors relevant to the decision being appealed;
  • bias or discrimination against the appellant on the part of a faculty.

The appeal must be made within 21 calendar days of the failure of the second or final appeal at the faculty level. GFCAAC regulations are available at 2-1 University Hall (492-2655). GFC appeals are lodged directly with the University Appeals Coordinator in the Secretariat at the above address.

Students must always exhaust each level of appeal, beginning at the lowest level until they reach the GFC level of appeal

Appeal Hearings

You may be asked to attend an appeal hearing at the Faculty Appeals level and the GFC level.

Highlight your appeal letter and present your case clearly and concisely to the committee.

Bring an Ombudsperson to your appeal. Be prepared to answer questions about your academic situation, your reasons for the appeal, and the remedy you are requesting. You should also be ready to direct questions to your Faculty.

This is your appeal. You are exercising your rights, and should approach the hearing with confidence. Whether you win or lose your appeal, you will have gained an understanding of how to use the channels of appeal to deal with perceived or real injustices.

For assistance with your appeal, contact the following:

  • GSA Ombudsperson, 5-02 SUB, 492-9183
  • Office of the Student Ombuds, 5-02 SUB, (780) 492-4689
  • Student Legal Services, 492-2226
  • Appeals and Compliance Officer, 3-04 South Academic Building (SAB), 780-492-2655 (for GFC or UAB regulations)

Preparing an Appeal Submission

  • Request a copy of your faculty's appeals procedures.
  • Get the basis of your appeal in mind.
  • Check all pertinent regulations and center your submission on the basic issues.
  • Seek objective assistance from the Student Ombudservice.
  • Address your submission to the appropriate level, be it a council or committee.
  • Identify yourself by name, faculty, and year of study in the submission.
  • State the decision you are appealing, and the name of the person or body that made that decision.
  • Describe the events that led up to your current situation in a brief and concise manner.
  • Request a specific remedy.
  • Outline any informal procedures you have taken so far to redress your grievance.
  • Do not mix your evidence with your requests.
  • List the reasons why your appeal should be granted.
  • Be brief.
  • Include copies of supporting documents.
  • Keep all originals and a copy of your appeal in a personal file.
  • Don't go to a higher level of appeal without exhausting all levels of appeal below.
  • Don't give a long and emotional account unless it is relevant to the issues being discussed.
  • Don't let it be apparent from your submission that you do not know the regulations pertinent to your case.
  • Don't include allegations that are of a personal nature which you cannot prove or are slanderous in content.

For further advice about writing appeals when you have been required to withdraw because of unsatisfactory academic performance, please contact the Office of the Student Ombuds for a detailed information sheet and appointment.