An appeal to the Academic Board is the final stage in most processes to try and resolve an issue within the University. Appeals to the Academic Board are only available by right in certain circumstances, in accordance with the provisions of the Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy.
So while you may have come across the use of the terms ‘appeal a grade’, or ‘appealing this decision’, a true appeal is only available in very specific circumstances. If you’re ‘appealing a grade’ then you should read our advice page on Assessment Disputes. If you’re wanting to appeal a Special Consideration decision, then review our advice page on Special Consideration to make sure you have followed all of the previous steps required for this process before lodging an appeal. If you have received an outcome from a Course Academic Progress Committee that you wish to appeal, in addition to the advice on this page, have a read of our Show Cause/Course Academic Progress page as well. And if your appeal relates to a finding or penalty for misconduct, then read our Misconduct page.
What can I appeal?
Section 4.2 of the Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy stipulates that students may appeal decisions regarding:
- academic misconduct;
- general misconduct;
- academic progress;
- statutory decisions;
- incorrect information or advice given by any academic or administrative staff of the University or which appeared in any publication of the University which has caused hardship to the student;
- examination outcome in a graduate research course; and,
How do I know I’ve reached the appeal stage?
Most decisions made in the above categories involve detailed written correspondence being sent to you, which means you should have been advised specifically that the next stage to seeking a resolution would be via an appeal to the Academic Board. If you haven’t been told this specifically in these terms, or aren’t sure what actually happens next, then it would be worth sending us a copy of the correspondence you have received so we can help you check this and give you relevant advice. You can attach this and email it to us via our contact form.
I need to lodge an appeal, what do I do?
In most cases*, an appeal made under section 4.2 must be on one or more of the following grounds:
- a procedural irregularity has occurred (which may include that the student has not received a fair hearing in all the circumstances);
- there is new information that could not reasonably have been provided at the time of the original decision, and that would probably have affected the decision or any penalty imposed;
- the decision was manifestly wrong; and/or
- the penalty imposed was manifestly excessive, inappropriate or not available in the circumstances.
* there are different grounds available for selection appeals and graduate research examination appeals
An Appeals Committee is not established to rehear the same facts without significant justification. In fact, the Appeals Committee does not have the authority to even meet to hear a case unless at least one of the grounds for appeal are met. So you need to make a clear, well-structured argument, and substantiate your assertions, or your appeal may be deemed to not meet grounds and be dismissed without a hearing.
Appeal Deadlines and Calculating University Business Days
Appeals are due 20 university business days from the date you are deemed to have received the appealable decision. In counting the exact deadline, you can exclude weekends, end-of-year shutdown period, or any public holidays observed by the University (see https://www.unimelb.edu.au/dates for a full list of dates). It is worth noting, for example, that Labour Day and Melbourne Cup Day are not considered university public holidays!
The date on the email will be considered day zero and the next day, day one. So, for example, if your outcome notice email is dated Monday 12 December (day zero), then the first day of counting will begin on Tuesday 13 December (day one).
If there is a discrepancy between the email date stamp and the date on the formal outcome notice (e.g.: a letter attached as pdf), then the email date stamp takes precedence (this is why we ask you to send us the full notice from the University which includes the email date stamp from when it was sent to you).
So what do the grounds actually mean?
You need to very clearly articulate what exactly you are alleging has gone wrong and how this constitutes a procedural irregularity according to the University’s published policies and procedures. You also need to explain what the connection is between this procedural irregularity and the disadvantage you believe you have suffered, and how you believe this irregularity contributed to an unfair decision being made.
So in effect, this ground should be read as ‘a procedural irregularity that has contributed to an injustice having occurred’, which as the grounds also state, includes an unfair hearing.
The grounds of ‘new information’ requires documentation to not have been reasonably able to be provided at the initial meeting, and for this to have probably (more than just possibly) affected the decision made.
So it’s not just whether or not particular facts were known to the committee or not, but whether these factors, or proof of these factors, couldn’t reasonably have been provided, and they would likely influence the decision considerably.
You need to be clear about what exactly is new, and the circumstances that prevented this from being provided, when the initial decision makers considered your case.
The grounds that the decision was manifestly wrong is not about whether you think the decision is the wrong one – of course you do, that’s why you want to appeal. This requires you to demonstrate how the decision deviates from the usual process or policy, or is unacceptable according to principles that policy represents. It’s not about how you feel about the decision, but how the decision is an objectively wrong one.
While decisions made by the University can feel excessive to those impacted by them, this factor alone is not sufficient to argue this ground. The ground of excessiveness turns on whether or not the impact this decision has on you in particular is considered excessive, considering all relevant circumstances. For example, having your enrolment terminated would be difficult for anyone, so you need to identify what effect this particular outcome will have on you specifically that suggests the decision is excessive.
We know this is a complicated process, and we are writing this advice to try and help you get through this as best you can. To help make a start on your appeal, we suggest using our template – you can download it here.
If your appeal is from a CAPC decision, then we suggest using this template which helps you address the specifics of this type of appeal.
If you want us to have a read through your submission to help you frame your arguments within these grounds, then you can send it through to us via our contact form. Just make sure you attach all of the relevant documents so we get the full picture so we can give you meaningful feedback and advice.
The Academic Board’s advice page on appeals is a helpful overview and has links to key contacts and policies. This is also the place to go when you are ready to lodge your appeal.
You should also read the Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy.