Office of the Registrar
School of Graduate Studies (2012/2013)
3.6 Appeal of Regulations
3.6.1 General Information
  1. Every graduate student has the right to appeal decisions resulting from the application of University regulations.

  2. Appeals will be considered in the case of health issues, bereavement and/or other acceptable cause, duly authenticated.

  3. For assistance in the appeals process, students are advised to consult with the School of Graduate Studies.

  4. In preparing an appeal a student may consult advisors or facilitators. Such advisors or facilitators may include an international advisor, a faculty advisor, a counsellor, a representative from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) or a faculty member who is familiar with the appeals process and who is willing to undertake the role of student advisor or facilitator.

  5. Appeals are made before specific committees that exist at the University to provide an objective review of cases. The appeals process is designed to assist students at critical points in their graduate program and to provide an accessible and transparent process for students. Refer also to Appeal Procedures for information concerning where appeals should be directed.

  6. The principle of fairness should be applied to all parties in appeals processes and decisions. Fairness includes, but is not limited to, such practices as all parties to the appeal receiving timely and adequate notice, all parties to the appeal having the opportunity to be heard, all parties to the appeal being made aware of the evidence considered by the committee, and no individual sitting in judgment on an appeal at a higher level who has already been a party to the decision at a lower level. Any member of a committee hearing an appeal, who was previously involved in a decision making process at a lower level of process, will abstain from voting.

  7. While the University makes provision for students to appeal regulations, the academic, financial or other consequences of the appeal process rests with the students.

  8. When an appeal is denied, the student will be advised in writing of the reasons for the decision and of further steps that can be taken in the appeals process. A student whose appeal is denied by the Executive Committee of Senate may appeal to the Senate. Appeals to the Senate will be heard in the first instance by the Senate Committee on Academic Appeals and that Committee will investigate the appeal and file a report to the Senate with its findings and recommendations as expeditiously as possible. Students have the right to appear in person before the Senate Committee on Academic Appeals, and have the right to be accompanied by another person in order to assist them with their presentation. Normally, however, the presentation of the student’s case rests with the student. Advance notice of the student’s intention to appear and the identity of the accompanying individual, if any, must be provided to the Secretary of the Senate Committee on Academic Appeals. Should the student’s appeal be denied by the Senate, the student will be advised that within the University no further appeal is possible.

  9. Student appeals are heard anonymously. However, this provision ceases to apply to a student who elects to appear in person before the Senate Committee on Academic Appeals as outlined in Clause 8 above.

3.6.2 Appeal Procedures
  1. Normally, the responsibility for making an appeal before the appropriate committee of the University rests with the student.

  2. A student who is ineligible to officially register for courses but who wishes to attend classes, laboratories or other educational activities while an appeal is in progress can do so only with the written permission of the head of the academic unit concerned. Such permission will not be unnecessarily withheld.

  3. Any student whose request for waiver of regulations has been denied has the right to appeal. Normally, any such appeal should be made in writing, clearly stating the basis for the appeal, and should be directed as follows:

    • Appeals against decisions of the Head of an Academic Unit will be made directly to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

    • Appeals against decisions of the Dean may be made to the Appeals Committee, School of Graduate Studies. Letters of appeal should be directed to the Chair of the Appeals Committee, c/o School of Graduate Studies.

    • Appeals against decisions of the Executive Committee of the Academic Council may be made to the Appeals Committee, School of Graduate Studies. Letters of appeal should be directed to the Chair of the Appeals Committee, c/o School of Graduate Studies.

    • Appeals against decisions of the Appeals Committee, School of Graduate Studies, may be made to the Executive Committee of Senate, c/o Office of the Registrar.

  4. Appeals cannot be made on the basis of the grades awarded in individual courses. Dissatisfaction with grades is not sufficient grounds for an appeal.

    Notwithstanding the above, and recognizing that the award of grades is an academic manner within the purview of experts in a discipline or subject area, students who wish to question the award of grades in individual courses are encouraged to consult with the following in the order given:

    • The course instructor

    • The Head of the appropriate academic unit

    • The Dean of Graduate Studies

3.6.3 Information Required in Letters of Appeal
  1. All appeals must be made in writing, clearly stating the basis for the appeal, and must be directed to the secretary of the appropriate University committee.

  2. In the Letter of Appeal, the student must clearly and fully provide: name, current address, telephone number, Memorial University of Newfoundland email address, student ID number, the decision being appealed and the remedy being sought. The grounds for the appeal, including health issues, bereavement and/or other acceptable cause, must be stated in the Letter of Appeal. Students must present independent evidence to corroborate statements made in the Letter of Appeal. Preferably, this evidence will come from a professional, such as a health professional, a counsellor, or a professor. However letters from other knowledgeable parties may be acceptable.

  3. In cases where an appeal is made on health issues, the student must provide a certificate from a health professional in the form of a note or a letter. Such a note must be sufficiently specific to allow appropriate consideration of the student’s case. The note must also clearly state that, in the opinion of the health professional, the problem was serious enough to have interfered with the student’s work. Students should refer to the policy respecting Information Required for Certificates from Health Professionals for more complete information.

  4. Students claiming bereavement as grounds must provide proof of death and evidence of a close personal relationship between themselves and the deceased.

  5. Confidentiality: The committees to which appeals are made do require substantial information about the reasons for the appeal in order to make their decisions. However, the committees also recognize the students’ rights to confidentiality. With this in mind, a student may discuss the reasons for his or her appeal with a University, College or Institute counsellor, who, with the student’s permission and provided sufficient reasons exist, may then write a letter to the appropriate committee confirming that there were sufficient grounds for an appeal, without disclosing the special personal and confidential details of the case.

3.6.4 Information Required for Certificates from Health Professionals
  1. Students who request permission to drop courses, to withdraw from University studies, to have examinations deferred or to obtain other waivers of University, departmental or course regulations based on health issues are required by the University to provide, in support of the request, a certificate from a health professional in the form of a note or letter. Such notes must be sufficiently specific to allow a proper consideration of students’ cases. The University requires that all such notes must be on letterhead, must be signed by the health professional, must confirm the specific dates on which the student visited the health professional and should include details on the following:

    • the degree to which the health issue (or treatment, in the case of medication, for example) is likely to have affected the student’s ability to study, attend classes, sit examinations, or continue with research;

    • the length of time over which the student’s abilities were likely hampered by the condition (e.g., recurring and severe back pain over a two-month period would likely have a more adverse effect on studies than a single episode of back pain requiring bed rest for a week; and

    • the fitness of the student to resume studies (it is in the student’s best interest not to return to studies prematurely).

  2. Confidentiality: The University respects the confidentiality of all material contained in notes. Student should request that their health professional retain a copy of the note in case the note needs to be verified or reissued at a later date.