Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
cpt_helps

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.

Common appeals 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

Are there things I cannot appeal?

The University does not give a list of what can and cannot be appealed. It is up to you to clearly identify what you are appealing and make a well-reasoned argument.

Your appeal 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, e.g. an essay marked without following the published marking criteria.

Examples of where you would not have strong reasons to appeal include:

  • receiving a poor mark or grade alone is not a reason for appeal
  • working hard and unexpectedly failing is not a reason for an appeal
  • simple extensions (up to 2 working day extensions at the discretion of your unit coordinator) are informal arrangements and cannot be appealed

It may be difficult to appeal an academic’s judgment, expertise, or discretionary powers, e.g. appealing a failed placement where your supervisor assessed your performance as incorrect or inadequate, since your supervisor used their expertise in making the decision. If you fail a placement and are not satisfied with the feedback you receive, we recommend you contact us for advice.

Sometimes what you are disputing might constitute a non-academic complaint rather than an appeal.

Stage 1 – Resolution with the original decision-maker (informal appeal)

If you are concerned about an academic decision, the first step is to make an appeal directly to the person who made the decision.

A few points to remember:

  • you have 15 working days to make your appeal – starting from the date of the decision or release of result
  • we recommend making your appeal in writing, so that you have written records
  • if you are appealing an exam, you should review your exam script before making your appeal (see below)

Depending on your faculty, you make the appeal by either emailing the decision-maker, or completing a form online. The University website has more information about appeal guidelines for specific faculties

School of Engineering students should email your unit coordinator to appeal and check Canvas for all related exam paper review, appeals, and other information.

For special consideration and special arrangements: you can submit an informal resolution request online.

Request for further feedback

Many stage 1 appeals are requests for further feedback about an academic decision. Most unit coordinators are happy to give further feedback, but are unlikely to change a mark or grade without being presented with strong reasons.

Review the exam script

If the assessment is an exam you should review the exam paper before 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 you will be referred to a faculty-level appeal.

Students in the School of Engineering must visit their School in person and ask to review their exam paper. This is possible when the office is open: until 5pm Friday 20 December and when the office reopens from Tuesday 7 January 2020.

The University’s reply

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.

For final exams/assessments you may not be able to receive a response by your unit coordinator before staff go on holiday or the University closes for the summer break. The important thing is to email your unit coordinator within 15 working days of the decision, as this ensures your appeal is submitted in time regardless of when you receive a response.

More information

Advice on how to make a Stage 1 appeal can be found on the University website. Check out our frequently asked questions.

Stage 2 – Faculty-level appeal

If your concerns are not resolved or you believe there was a failure to follow due process, you may submit an appeal to your faculty (or the Academic Panel for credit, special consideration or arrangements applications) within 20 working days of the stage 1 appeal decision.

A 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 you have submitted an informal appeal but are unsatisfied with the outcome
  • include a copy of your previous stage 1 appeal with any attached documentation
  • include the date of the stage 1 appeal decision to show you are lodging your stage 2 appeal within the 20 working day deadline

If you would like help writing your stage 2 faculty-level appeal, contact us. Full directions on how to lodge a faculty-level appeal are found on the University website.

What happens if I’m late?

If you are late in lodging a formal appeal, the faculty will usually not accept it unless you are able to give a reasonable explanation for the delay with documented evidence. Not knowing the appeals policy, or being on holidays during the appeals timeframe, are not considered valid reasons for lateness. 

The University’s reply

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.

Stage 3 – Appeal to Student Appeals Body (SAB)

If concerns are still not resolved by a stage 2 faculty-level appeal you may submit a University-level appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB).  

For a stage 3 appeal you must write a letter explaining how the faculty breached due process in their decision on your formal appeal.  

Your stage 3 SAB appeal letter needs to: 

  • show that it is within time
  • show that there is a faculty-level appeal outcome
  • explain why due process was not followed – this means explaining how the decision failed to properly follow one or more University of Sydney policies or procedures

SAB appeals must be submitted within 15 working days of the faculty-level decision.

We can help with your SAB appeal – contact us.

After you submit your appeal:

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 is not appealable.

If your appeal is considered by the SAB:

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 before an appeal hearing.

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

The SAB appeal involves a meeting (‘hearing’) where you and a representative from your faculty meet with the SAB 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
  • a student representative

None of these panel members will be from your faculty to ensure neutral decision-making. You have a right to request a support person or advocate, such as a SUPRA caseworker, to attend the SAB hearing with you.

SAB will make a decision:

The written outcome given after the hearing is the final decision at the University.

It is important to know the SAB cannot force a faculty to change 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 on how to submit your SAB appeal are found on the University website.

Other appeals

Am I still enrolled if I submit an academic appeal?

You must be a currently enrolled student to submit an appeal. While your appeal is being considered 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. You can also appeal a finding of academic dishonesty for a group work assignment. If you are unhappy about a group work result and considering an appeal contact us.

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 obliged 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 the 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

The University’s website for academic appeals information.

Policies

Can’t find what you’re looking for?