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Appeals Against Faculty of Graduate Studies Rulings

Submitted by 21232f297a57a5a... on Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:52pm
The following appeals procedures are intended for use during appeals initiated by students currently in a graduate program, or who have been in a graduate program, against decisions of the Dean of Graduate Studies or their designate.
Graduate students planning to initiate an appeal are encouraged to consult with the GSA Ombudsperson.
All appeal submissions must include an Appeal Submission Cover Sheet (PDF) and must be submitted as one file to gradappeals@ucalgary.ca. If the files are too large to send via email, you can drop off a printed copy at our counter in MT room 213.
The Faculty of Graduate Studies encourages attempts to resolve problems informally, as close to the source of the problem as possible. However, if resolution at that level is not possible, and the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee, a hearing may be held. Faculty of Graduate Studies’ appeals hearings are not judicial but still attempt to include all the elements of natural justice. Common law rules of natural justice and fairness are derived from two fundamental principles:
  • A party whose rights are being affected by a decision has the right to be heard before that decision is taken.
  • A party has a right to have his or her case heard by an unbiased decision maker.
The Faculty of Graduate Studies attempts to ensure that the fundamental principles of natural justice and fairness are met through its appeals procedures: written evidence is disclosed to both parties before the hearing, and both parties have a chance to present their cases, to call witnesses, to question each other, and to respond to each other’s presentations. Appeal Panel members are allowed to question both parties and any witnesses.
Questions? Please email gradappeals@ucalgary.ca

Definitions

The Appellant
The appellant is the student who is appealing a decision made by the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her designate. It is the responsibility of the appellant to provide the Chair of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Appeals Committee with a written statement of appeal and to satisfy the Appeal Panel that the appeal should be upheld.

The Respondent
The respondent is the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean may designate an Associate Dean to act for him/her in an appeal. It is the responsibility of the Dean, or designate, to provide the Chair with a written response to the appellant’s appeal and to demonstrate to the Appeal Panel that the decision was taken fairly and reasonably and that the appeal is without grounds.

Support people to Appellant and Respondent
The appellant and the respondent are each allowed one person to support and assist them during the hearing.The person invited to support the appellant or the respondent may offer advice, but the appellant and the respondent should present their cases themselves.

Support person to the Appeal Panel
The Chair of the Appeals Committee may invite one person to support the Appeal Panel during the hearing.

Witnesses
Both the appellant and the respondent may invite witnesses to present evidence at an appeal.

Appeals Committee
The Appeals Committee is composed of ten members elected from amongst the Graduate Program Director membership of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council, and one Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) member, who is also a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council. The Appeals Committee will elect a Chair and a Vice Chair from amongst the Graduate Program Director membership. Members of the Appeals Committee sit on Appeals Panels to hear appeals against decisions of the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her delegate.

Appeal Panel
An Appeal Panel is created to hear an individual appeal and is composed of a minimum of four members of the Appeals Committee who are Graduate Program Directors elected by the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council and a member nominated by the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). The Chair or Vice-Chair of the Appeals Committee normally chairs an Appeal Panel, but may nominate another member in cases of conflict of interest. It is the responsibility of an Appeal Panel to review the written evidence from the appeal and the response, to hear statements from the appellant and the respondent and any witnesses, and to make a fair and unbiased judgement to uphold or deny the appeal.

Appeal Panel Chair
The responsibility of the Chair is to conduct a fair but expeditious ordering of the proceedings, rule on matters of procedure, keep fair but firm control of proceedings and, with substantial input from the Panel members, draft the letter outlining the decision reached and the supporting reasons.

1. Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee

The Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee consists of eleven members, ten of whom are elected by the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council from amongst the Graduate Program Directors membership, and who are current members of Council, or have been Graduate Program Directors members of Council within the past five years, or who have extensive experience with student appeals; and one graduate student member, who is also a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council, nominated by the Graduate Students’ Association. One of the eight members elected by the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council shall serve as Chair and one as Vice Chair.

2. Jurisdiction

The Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee has jurisdiction over appeals initiated by students currently in a graduate program, or who have been in a graduate program, against decisions of the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her designate, all in accordance with established deadlines for appeal submission. In general, the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee has jurisdiction to hear appeals that arise over a decision made by the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her designate as a result of a recommendation from a teaching faculty. A teaching faculty makes a ruling over issues within its jurisdiction (for example, reappraisal of graded term work, reappraisal of final grades, and academic appeals such as plagiarism, cheating, etc.) and, if appropriate, makes a recommendation about the student’s future status to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean of Graduate Studies, or his/her designate, accepts or rejects the recommendation and, if the recommendation is accepted, determines the penalty. For example, if a teaching faculty decides that a student has committed plagiarism, the teaching faculty may recommend to the Dean of Graduate Studies that the student be required to withdraw from program. The Dean of Graduate Studies determines whether or not to accept the recommendation, and may decide that it is more appropriate to expel the student. Any appeal concerning the plagiarism must be presented to the teaching faculty's Appeals Committee. It is the Dean of Graduate Studies' decision to withdraw, suspend or expel the student from the Faculty of Graduate Studies that may be appealed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee. Penalties determined by the Dean of Graduate Studies that may be appealed include but are not limited to:

  • Failure of Faculty of Graduate Studies Oral Examinations
  • Probation
  • Suspension, or withdrawal from program for failure to maintain progress
  • Expulsion from the Faculty of Graduate Studies

The Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee does not have jurisdiction to hear appeals regarding decisions related to:

  • Fee Assessments
  • Withdrawal from program for failure to register
  • Withdrawal from program for failure to pay fees

For appeals procedures in the matters below, General Faculties Council and teaching faculty appeals procedures should be consulted:

(*The Dean of Graduate Studies may make a ruling of non-academic misconduct against any student. A Review committee of the General Faculties Council reviews the Dean's ruling. The Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee does not hear an appeal against a ruling of non-academic misconduct.)

3. Procedures

In situations of reappraisal of graded term work or reappraisal of final grade, the student must make his or her appeal first to the teaching faculty. While the appeals process is underway in the teaching faculty, rulings of the Dean of Graduate Studies that result from the matter under appeal, such as probation, suspension or withdrawal from program, and expulsion, are suspended until the process has been concluded.
Once the appeal procedure has concluded in the teaching faculty, the Dean of Graduate Studies will review his/her ruling in the light of the teaching faculty’s decision. If the appeal is upheld in the teaching faculty, the Dean of Graduate Studies’ ruling of probation, suspension or withdrawal from program, or expulsion from the Faculty of Graduate Studies will be withdrawn. If the appeal is denied in the teaching faculty, the Dean of Graduate Studies’ ruling will stand unless the student appeals the ruling to the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee.
While an appeal is being made to the FGS Appeals Committee, the ruling of the Dean of Graduate Studies is suspended. If the appeal is denied, the ruling of the Dean of Graduate Studies is reinstated. If the appeal is upheld, the ruling of the Dean of Graduate Studies is withdrawn. .Decisions which are made by the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her designate and which are not appealable to the teaching faculty, such as withdrawal from program, are appealable directly to the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee.

4. Continued Registration While Under Appeal

Students who appeal decisions through the teaching faculty or to the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee are entitled to tentative registration pending the outcome of the appeal.  While tentative registration continues, the student is required to pay all fees. If the appeal fails, the Dean of Graduate Studies’ ruling will be reinstated, the student’s registration cancelled, the transcript changed to reflect the ruling, regardless of the date, and all fees refunded in full.

5. Continued Registration While Accused of Non-Academic Misconduct

In the case of a graduate student accused of non-academic misconduct, a GFC Review Committee will adjudicate. Until such time as the Review Committee meets, the Dean of Graduate Studies, upon the recommendation of the Dean of the teaching faculty in which the student’s graduate program is housed, may/may not, at his or her discretion, allow a student to continue attending classes and taking examinations.

6. Launching an Appeal

a) Appeals Process Chronology
*Please note that these timelines are meant as guidelines and that exceptional circumstances may result in longer timelines. All “days” are business days.
Appeal is requested within 15 business days of appellant receiving notice of decision to be appealed.
Day 1:
Request for an appeal is received in the office of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) at  gradappeals@ucalgary.ca.
The appeal goes to the respondent (i.e., Dean of Graduate Studies), and the respondent, based on new information, may uphold the appeal.
Day 1-3:
The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Appeals Committee are notified of the request within 48 hours of receipt of the appeal.
Day 1-3:
The Chair and Vice-Chair will receive the documents supporting the request for an appeal within two working days of the appeal being received in the FGS offices.
Day 3-6 (2 weeks):
The Chair and Vice-Chair will review the appeal documentation and determine if additional information is required.  This request for information will occur within three working days of the Chair receiving the original documentation.
If additional information is required the appellant will be contacted for additional information.  The Chair may also request from the respondent, a copy of the evidence used to reach the decision being appealed.
Day 6-15 (3 weeks):
The Chair and Vice-Chair will review the documentation from the appellant and determine if an appeal will be granted.  If there are grounds for appeal, the Chair will contact the Respondent to determine if the issue can be resolved without a hearing. If not, the decision of the Chair is sent to the student within 15 business days of the appeal being submitted to the offices of FGS.
Day 15-20:
If an appeal hearing is to be held, the respondent has 5 business days to provide his or her response and/or supporting documents to the Chair of the Appeal Panel, and provide open times for a hearing to be held in the fourth week after the Chair’s decision.
The appellant and the respondent, and all Appeal Committee Members, have 5 business days to provide open times for a hearing to be held 16 to 20 business days from the Chair’s decision.
Day 20:
The documentation from the respondent must be received by the Chair of the Appeal Panel.
Day 20-28:
The Chair organizes an appeal panel for the first open date 15 to 20 business days after his or her decision to hold an appeal hearing.  Upon receipt of the dates from the respondent and the appellant, the Chair has 5 business days to establish the date of the appeal.
Day 20-30:
The Chair must receive notification of who will be present at the appeal hearing from the appellant and respondent.
The documentation for the appeal must be received by all members of the appeal panel, the appellant and the respondent.
The appellant or the respondent may challenge the composition of the Appeal Panel.
Day 31-35:
The appeal is heard.
Day 36-40:
The Chair communicates the decision of the Appeal Panel to the appellant and the respondent.
b) Appeal Document
Within 15 business days of receiving a decision from the Dean of Graduate Studies or his/her designate, the student must submit an appeal in writing to the Chair of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee, through the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. In exceptional circumstances, a longer timeframe may be allowed.
If the decision of the Dean of Graduate Studies was made in response to a decision made within a teaching faculty, and that decision is being appealed within the teaching faculty, the Dean’s decision is suspended while the appeal is held in the teaching faculty.  The matter will remain in abeyance until the Dean is notified of the decision of the appeals committee of the teaching faculty.
The appeal document is a written statement providing full particulars of the decision being appealed and the remedies sought and must include:
  • The FGS decision being appealed
  • The specific grounds for the appeal, which are limited to:
1. Bias
2. Unfair practices or flawed procedures
3. That the Dean’s decision was unduly harsh
4. Substantial new evidence that was not available during previous consideration of the matter appealed
  • All relevant information including evidence substantiating the grounds for the appeal
  • A description of any steps that have been taken to resolve the issue
  • The remedy sought
  • Contact information for the appellant
  • Documentation, if applicable.
It is the responsibility of the appellant to submit in writing all relevant information available to him/her so that it can be considered at an appeal hearing.
c) Chair’s Action UPDATED Mar-1-2012
Within five business days of receiving the appeal document(s), the Chair will review the appellant’s document(s) and assess whether there is sufficient or appropriate information to determine whether the FGS Appeals Committee has the jurisdiction to hear the appeal, and whether the appeal shall be heard.  If the Chair decides that the appellant has not provided sufficient or appropriate information because of conditions that limited the appellant’s understanding of the FGS procedures manual, or ability to gather the information within the required time frame, the Chair will request further information from the student.  The Chair has the right to request documentation that clarifies the grounds for the appeal such as a more detailed description of the specific processes that are being appealed, the steps that have been taken to resolve the decision being appealed, and the processes followed by the respondent in reaching a decision. The Chair also may request the evidence upon which the respondent reached a decision if it is not included in the appellant’s documents. This request will be made through the appropriate office of FGS, and the Chair will not communicate directly with the appellant or the respondent. The Chair shall not request information that would unduly bias the appeal process for either the appellant or the respondent.
Within five business days of receipt of the appeal document, and any additional requests for information from the Chair of the Appeals Committee, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee shall determine whether or not the FGS Appeals Committee has the jurisdiction to hear an appeal.
Grounds for hearing an appeal are limited to:
  • Bias
  • Unfair practices or procedures
  • That the Dean’s decision was unduly harsh
  • Substantial new evidence that was not available during previous consideration of the matter appealed.
With natural justice as a guiding principle, if there is any doubt, an appeal shall be heard.
Grounds for denying an appeal include:
  • The decision being appealed does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • The decision being appealed is not clearly and fully stated in writing
  • Approved grounds for an appeal have not been stated
  • Mere dissatisfaction with a ruling.
If a hearing is denied, the Chair must advise the student that a denial of an appeal hearing may be appealed to the General Faculties Council’s Committee to Hear and Determine Student Academic Appeals within fifteen days of receiving the Faculty of Graduate Studies Appeals Committee’s decision.
The Chair’s decision must be copied to the Dean of Graduate Studies, the Department or Program Head of the student’s program, the Graduate Program Directors of the student’s program, and any other party involved.
d) Response to Appeal
If an appeal is to be heard, at the same time that the student is notified, the Chair asks the Dean of Graduate Studies to submit a response to the appeal within 5 business days.
e) Scheduling an Appeal Hearing
If an appeal is to be heard, the Chair organizes an Appeal Panel from amongst members of the Appeals Committee ensuring, as far as possible, that the Panel members involved are free of perceived conflict of interest. Conflict of interest would include:
  • Having been party to the decision being appealed at a lower level
  • Having a working relationship with the student or student’s supervisor
  • Having a current teaching relationship with the student.
If a member of the Appeal Panel declares a conflict of interest, or if the Chair considers that a member might appear to be placed in a conflict of interest by hearing the appeal, the Chair may nominate a substitute member from amongst members of the Appeals Committee, the other members of Faculty of Graduate Studies Council, or from amongst those who have been members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council in the past five years. In the case of the GSA member, the GSA may nominate any member of the Graduate Representative Council, who is not in the same teaching faculty as the appellant, as a substitute.
The Chair of the Appeals Committee normally chairs an Appeal Panel.
An appellant or the Dean of Graduate Studies has the right to challenge, for cause, any member of the Appeal Panel no later than five business days before the date set for the hearing. The Chair of the Appeals Committee shall judge the validity of the challenge. Such cause may include current or past teacher/student relationships, evidence of bias, or any other such factor likely to prejudice a fair hearing. The composition of the Appeal Panel may not be challenged once the hearing is begun.
If the Chair is challenged, the Appeal Panel will judge the validity of the challenge.
f) Date of Appeal Hearing
Whenever possible, the Chair must schedule an appeal hearing to be held within fifteen business days of the decision to hear an appeal. All members of the Appeal Panel nominated to hear the appeal must be in attendance at the hearing. The hearing should be scheduled so that both the appellant and respondent can attend. However, if circumstances dictate that either the appellant or the respondent, or both, cannot attend, the hearing may proceed on the basis of the written submissions, so long as it can be shown that the absent appellant or respondent received adequate notice of the hearing. In exceptional circumstances, for example if the appellant is out of the country, the appellant would not be expected to attend. In exceptional circumstances, the Chair may allow the appellant to nominate a representative to attend on his or her behalf.
g) Distribution of Documentation
The Chair is responsible for ensuring that there is a full exchange of documentation, including the appeal, the response, the approved procedures, the panel composition and the names of those who will be in attendance at the hearing. All documentation must be in the hands of members of the Appeal Panel, the appellant, and the respondent a minimum of five business days before the hearing.
h) Additional Material
The Chair will enter the documents submitted for the hearing into the record at the beginning of the hearing. If one of the parties to the hearing requests that additional documents be accepted during the hearing, the Chair may rule to accept or not to accept, or ask the Panel to make a ruling.
i) Support for Appellant and Respondent
The appellant and the respondent must notify the Chair of the Appeals Committee who will be present at the hearing to assist no later than ten business days before the hearing is scheduled to take place so that this information can be distributed, along with the documentation, to all involved in the hearing. The person invited to assist the appellant or the respondent may offer advice, however the appellant and the respondent should present their cases themselves.
j) Witnesses
Each party to the appeal may invite a reasonable number of witnesses. It is the responsibility of the party issuing the invitation to make all arrangements for the attendance of a witness. The Chair of the Appeals Committee must be notified of the attendance of any witnesses no later than ten business days before the hearing is scheduled to take place so that this information can be distributed, along with the documentation, to all involved in the hearing.
k) Committee Support
The Chair of the Appeals Committee may invite an individual to assist the Appeal Panel.
l) Confidential Documents
The appellant or the respondent to an appeal may request that the Panel consider a confidential document without divulging its specific contents to the other party because of overriding interests of privilege, confidentiality or otherwise. The Panel shall, in such cases, only consider the confidential material if the other party to the appeal (the appellant or the respondent) can be reasonably and fairly appraised of the general nature of the contents.

 

7. Attendance at the Appeal Hearing

The persons who may be present at an appeal hearing are:
  • The members of the Appeal Panel
  • The appellant and one individual to assist the appellant, provided due notification has been given, in accordance with section 6.i
  • The Dean of Graduate Studies or designate and one individual to assist him/her, provided due notification has been given, in accordance with section 6.i
  • One individual invited to assist the Panel, in accordance with section 6.k
  • Witnesses invited by either party to the appeal, in accordance with section 6.j.

8. Hearing Procedures

8. Hearing Procedures
a) The Chair explains the hearing format and clarifies any procedural questions arising from any party. Procedural questions that arise will be settled by the Chair or by a majority vote of the panel members.
b) The Chair compiles notes on the proceedings in order to be able to write a decision according to the requirements in section 10. After the written decision has been prepared and sent, the notes must be destroyed.
c) The Chair identifies the appeal, names the parties present and their advisors, and the members of the Appeal Panel, and outlines the circumstances leading to the appeal.
d) The Chair invites the appellant to present his/her case, including the evidence of any witnesses.
e) The Chair invites the respondent to present the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ case, including the evidence of any witnesses. The Chair may invite witnesses into the hearing to give evidence and ask them to leave after their evidence has been given and the appellant and respondent and Appeals Panel members have been given the opportunity to ask questions, at his or her discretion.
f) The Chair gives the appellant and the respondent the opportunity to ask questions, posed through the Chair.
g) The Chair invites members of the Appeal Panel to ask questions of the appellant and the respondent on the written evidence and on the oral presentations.
h) The respondent presents concluding statement.
i) The appellant presents concluding statement.
j) The Chair asks all those present except for the members of the Appeal Panel to leave the room.
k) The Appeal Panel deliberates privately and reaches a decision on the appeal or schedules another meeting for such decision.

9. Decision of Appeal Panel

The decision is by vote; a simple majority is required to decide an appeal. For an appeal to be upheld, it must be shown that the grounds for the appeal have been substantiated.
The decision of the Appeal Panel will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing and on written submissions to the appeal, which will be available to all parties.
The decision of an Appeal Panel can only be one of the following:
1. to uphold the appeal and approve the remedy being sought
2. to uphold the appeal, and determine an alternative remedy
3. to deny the appeal
The written decision of the Panel shall include:
  • The date and time of the hearing
  • Names of all those present at the hearing, and their roles in the hearing
  • A review of the decision being appealed, the grounds of the appeal, the documentation considered by the Committee and the nature of the oral presentations
  • Decision of the Appeal Panel
  • Reasons for the decision
The Appeal Panel’s decision is binding upon the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
If, in a particular case, the Appeal Panel wishes to suggest that useful action might be taken to improve Faculty regulations or procedures or to avoid the recurrence of certain problem situations, appropriate recommendations or comments should be transmitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies in a separate memorandum.
The Chair conveys the Appeal Panel findings formally, in writing, to the appellant, the Registrar, the Dean of Graduate Studies and the dean of the faculty in which the student’s graduate program resides, and to those who were involved in the circumstances leading to the appeal, for example, the Department Head, Graduate Program Directors and Supervisor. The Appeal findings will normally be communicated within five days of the Appeal Panel hearing.

10. Taping of Hearings

No taping by any party of any hearing in the Faculty of Graduate Studies is allowed.

11. Confidentiality

The hearing will not be open to the public. All written and oral information regarding the hearing is confidential and should not be shared or discussed outside the proceedings. Written material must not be copied or distributed to anyone not involved in the proceedings.

12. Recourse Beyond the Faculty of Graduate Studies

In the event that the appeal is denied, the appellant may appeal the decision to the General Faculties Council Committee to Hear and Determine Student Academic Appeals. Procedures for appeals to this committee may be found at www.ucalgary.ca/secretariat/GFC/GFC-student-appeals.