Academic Petitions and Appeals

The purpose of academic regulations is to allow students to develop their interests and talents to the fullest in ways consistent with the philosophy and standards of the Faculty. In establishing academic regulations, the Faculty also recognizes that instances will arise where it makes sense, in the context of a student’s academic career, to waive regulations which would otherwise apply. The purpose of an academic petition is to request an exemption from an academic regulation or deadline. Being unfamiliar of regulations or deadlines does not constitute a valid reason for an academic petition.

Academic petitions and appeals in the Faculty of Graduate Studies are governed by the Senate Guidelines for the consideration of petitions/appeals by Faculty Committees.

Only in exceptional circumstances will an academic petition for a retroactive leave of absence be granted. Graduate students may also submit a financial petition to Student Financial Services.

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Academic Petitions: Procedural Guidelines

1. Academic petitions in the Faculty of Graduate Studies are initiated by students by submitting a completed Academic Petition Form (.pdf). A completed academic petition form and any required or relevant supplemental documentation must be submitted to the office of the graduate program concerned. (Students in the Schulich School of Business should consult their program offices for petitions and appeals procedures.)

When preparing a petition, petitioners should seek the advice of the graduate program director or the graduate program assistant. In instances in which the graduate program director is the subject of the petition, petitioners shall seek the advice of another member of the program’s graduate executive committee. If the petition involves an undergraduate course, the petitioner should seek the advice of the undergraduate unit in which the course is offered.

2. Following submission of the completed petition to the graduate program office, the graduate program director or alternate (in cases where the graduate program director is unavailable or is the subject of the petition) reviews the petition and makes a positive or negative recommendation to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. This recommendation, including the completed petition form and any required or relevant supplemental documentation, is forwarded to the secretary of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Petitions Committee.

3. The committee secretary, or designate, may record on the petition form information pertaining to the petitioner’s standing in the Faculty. This information includes Leaves of Absence, the number of courses that are Incomplete, any other pertinent information (e.g., the number of C or F grades), and a statement of any fees owing. If a petitioner is not in good standing, the petitioner will be asked to address the issue that is placing them in poor standing. For example, if the petitioner holds a combination of grades requiring withdrawal from the program, the petitioner must file a petition addressing how good academic standing will be achieved along with their original petition.

4. Petitions received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies are reviewed by an administrative officer who conducts an initial assessment of the petition.

5. This initial assessment falls into one of three categories:

  1. the petition does not include all of the information necessary for the request to be reviewed,
  2. the petitioner is petitioning on a relatively minor matter (e.g., dropping a course after the drop date because of documented medical grounds), or
  3. the petition is on a more substantive or more complex matter (e.g., request for extension of full-time status).

6. Incomplete petitions. The administrative officer will inform the program and/or the petitioner (as appropriate) that additional information must be provided and that such information must be provided within 30 working days. Where the petitioner fails to provide the information requested, the petition will receive no further consideration.

7. Complete petitions. In the initial assessment, the administrative officer categorizes complete petitions as either relatively minor or substantive/complex.

(a) Petitions on relatively minor matters. The administrative officer reviews the petition and makes a recommendation to grant or deny the petition to the Associate Dean or Chair of the Petitions Committee. Where the recommendation is to grant the petition, the Associate Dean or Chair of the Petitions Committee confirms the recommendation of the administrative officer. Normally, such petitions will be processed within 21 working days of receipt of a complete petition. Decisions are made available to the petitioner through their graduate program office. Where the recommendation is to deny the petition, the petition is referred to the Faculty of Graduate Studies Petitions Committee for consideration at its next-scheduled monthly meeting.

(b)   Petitions on relatively substantive or complex matters. The Faculty of Graduate Studies Petitions Committee makes the decision to grant or deny this type of petition or refer this type of petition for further information. None of the parties involved in a petition may be present at the Petitions Committee meeting. Decisions are normally made available to petitioners within 10 working days of the Petitions Committee meeting.

8. Notification of decision. The graduate program office notifies petitioners in writing of petitions decisions. Unless petitioners specify an alternate address, notice will be provided using the graduate program’s internal notification system (e.g., office mail box). E-mail communication may contain only a statement of what was being petitioned and the decision (i.e., granted or denied). Commentary relating to decisions will be provided in hard copy only. Petitioners are responsible for notifying the graduate program office of the means by which they can be reached throughout the petition process and must notify the graduate program of any change in the relevant contact information. When a petition is denied, information regarding appeal procedures will be provided with the decision correspondence.

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Appeals of Petitions Decisions: Procedural Guidelines

1. Parties to a petition are persons who are directly affected by the petition decision and who have participated in the original petition submission.

2. Parties to a petition reviewed by the Petitions Committee may appeal the decision to the Appeals and Academic Honesty Committee (AAHC) of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Appeals will be heard only if leave is granted by the AAHC.

3. The Academic Affairs Officer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies will make the petition file available for review by any party who participated in the original petition submission.

4. Leave to appeal will be granted only where the appeal makes out a prima facie case based on any of the following grounds:

  1. new evidence (i.e., evidence relevant to the decision made at the Petitions Committee level, but which through no fault of the appellant was not presented at that level. Generally speaking, events or performance subsequent to the Petitions Committee decision are not to be construed as “new” evidence.);
  2. procedural irregularity in the Petitions Committee’s handling of the case; or
  3. substantive argument that the original petition decision constitutes gross injustice or error.

5. The appeal must be filed within 20 working days of the date on which the appellant was informed of the decision which is being appealed.

6. Appellants have the right to have a representative assist in the preparation of written submissions and, if leave to appeal is granted, to act as their representative at the appeals meeting.

7. Appellants must submit the appeal to the Academic Affairs Officer of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and must provide a copy of the appeal to all parties to the original petition.

8. All appeals must be submitted in writing beginning with a completed Appeal Form (.pdf).

9. Parties to the original petition have 10 working days from the submission date of the appeal in which to provide to the AAHC a response to the appeal.  Responses will be disclosed to the appellant.

10. Once the file is complete, AAHC will consider whether leave to appeal will be granted. AAHC will determine whether or not a prima facie case has been established. Parties are not present at this hearing. If the Committee defers a decision on leave to appeal to obtain more information, the appellant shall be so informed in writing using the contact information provided on the Appeal Form. Appellants are responsible for notifying the Academic Affairs Officer of the means by which they can be reached throughout the appeal process and must notify the Academic Affairs Officer of any change in the relevant contact information.

11. If leave to appeal is granted, the appellant shall be given at least 10 working days notice of when the appeal will be heard.

12. The appellant has the right to be present at the meeting at which the appeal is being considered for the purpose of presenting her/his case orally and for questioning by the Committee.  Appellants must indicate if they will be accompanied by a representative.  The Committee’s decision and vote shall be taken in camera.

13. No one may sit on the AAHC hearing an appeal who is a party to the petition or who heard it.

14. The Chair or Secretary of AAHC shall inform each appellant in writing of the decision of the Committee and, in the case of an unfavourable decision, of the right to appeal to the Senate Appeals Committee.

15. It is the responsibility of the appellant to inform her or his representative of any decision made in the appeal.

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Appeals to the Senate Appeals Committee (SAC)

The final route of appeal within the Faculty of Graduate Studies is to the AAHC. A candidate wishing to appeal the decision made by the AAHC may appeal to Senate Appeals Committee (SAC), which shall consider an appeal submission only if the candidate has exhausted the petition and appeals procedures of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Deadlines and procedures with respect to the submission of appeals to and consideration of appeals by the Senate Appeals Committee can be found at University Secretariat – Senate Appeals Committee. The Senate Appeals Committee does not consider appeals dealing with financial matters. Graduate students may submit a financial petition to Student Financial Services.

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