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Academic appeals for coursework students

You have 15 working days to start your appeal – this does not include weekends or public holidays. For results released on 8 July 2020, you have until 29 July 2020 to submit your stage 1 appeal

Related articles:

Academic appeals at a glance

 Your responsibilityThe University's responsibility
Stage 1
Resolution with the original decision-maker
If you are concerned about an academic decision, make an appeal in writing to the relevant decision-maker (usually your unit coordinator). Do this within 15 working days of the decision.The relevant decision-maker should deal with the issue promptly and give you a full explanation for the decision. They need to explain the next step in the appeals procedure and refer you to a copy of the Appeals Rule.
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 within 20 working days of the stage 1 decision.The person who receives 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 you may request an update on your appeal.
Stage 3
Appeal to Student Appeals Body
If your concerns are still not resolved by the faculty-level appeal you may submit an appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB). Your appeal needs to explain why you believe due process was not followed. SAB appeals must be lodged within 15 working days of the faculty-level decision.If it is confirmed that 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.

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
  • a decline of an application for a DC grade

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 (working days do not include weekends or public holidays).
  • We recommend making your appeal in writing so you have a written record.
  • 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.

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.

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. Also, check our frequently asked questions.

Stage 2 – Faculty-level appeal (formal 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 your grounds for appeal, outline any breaches of due process (if there are any) 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 by the 20 working day

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 the requirements, 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 that 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 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.

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 finalised or decided.

Can I appeal a group work decision?

At the informal stage, all members of the group must consent to the appeal and be listed on the appeal form. 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, but 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

Visit the student appeals website for further info.

Policies

The SUPRA office is closed – but you can still get help!

To help protect the health of our community during COVID-19 SUPRA's Student Advice and Advocacy Service, Legal Service and council are working from home. We are working to full capacity and are providing timely and accurate information, advice and support.