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Student Appeals procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 23 November 2021.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Procedure documents the appeals processes for students under the relevant academic progress, assessment, academic integrity, research integrity and student misconduct procedures relating to students enrolled in the University’s higher education award courses.

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Procedure applies to appeals by students against decisions or outcomes where a right of appeal is specified in a University regulation or University policy or procedure.

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Section 4 - Policy

(4) This Procedure is pursuant to the Student Appeals policy.

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Section 5 - Procedure

PART A: Deciding to Appeal

Appealable decisions

(5) A student may appeal against a University decision in relation to:

  1. a breach of academic integrity in accordance with the Student Academic Integrity procedure;
  2. a breach of research integrity in accordance with the Research Integrity Breaches procedure;
  3. unsatisfactory academic progress in a coursework program in accordance with the Academic Progress Policy;
  4. re-admission after exclusion due to unsatisfactory academic progress in a coursework program in accordance with the Academic Progress Policy;
  5. unsatisfactory academic progress in a research program in accordance with the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Academic Progress procedure;
  6. an examination outcome in a higher degree by research in accordance with the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Assessment procedure; and
  7. a breach of student conduct in accordance with the Student Misconduct procedure.

Grounds for appeal

(6) Student appeals must be made on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. misapplication of process occurred that resulted in material disadvantage to the student;
  2. that the decision was manifestly wrong;
  3. the outcome imposed by the original decision maker was manifestly excessive, inappropriate or not available in the circumstances; and/or
  4. new evidence that was not known or available at the time of the original decision is now available and could have affected the outcome of the decision.

(7) An appeal made under Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Assessment procedure can only be made on the grounds that a misapplication of process occurred that resulted in material disadvantage to the student.

(8) An appeal made under the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Academic Progress procedure can only be made on the following grounds:

  1. misapplication of process occurred that resulted in material disadvantage to the student;
  2. new evidence that was not known or available at the time of the original decision is now available and could have affected the outcome of the decision.

Submitting an appeal

(9) A student who wishes to appeal a decision must submit their appeal to the University Appeals Committee within 20 University working days of being notified of the original decision.

(10) Students may consult with the DUSA Student Advocacy and Support Service for support in submitting an appeal.

(11) The appeal submission must:

  1. describe the decision being appealed;
  2. set out the ground or grounds for appeal and explain how each ground applies to the case;
  3. attach a copy of the original decision that is being appealed and any supporting evidence; and
  4. include any supporting materials or documents.

Late appeals

(12) The University Appeals Committee Chair (the Committee Chair) may accept a late appeal, after the deadline specified in clause 9, where the student can provide supporting material or documents to show how exceptional circumstances prevented them from applying by the deadline. Failure to check email or advise the University of a change of address are not exceptional circumstances.

PART B: Consideration of the Appeal

(13) The consideration of an appeal must commence within 10 working days of submission, and the outcome finalised as soon as practicable.

(14) A student appealing a decision is responsible for establishing one or more grounds of appeal on a balance of probabilities (i.e. that it is more probable than not).

Step 1: Chair Review

(15) The Committee Chair will consider the appeal and relevant documents collated by the University Appeals Committee Secretariat. These will include:

  1. the appeal submission; and
  2. any relevant and available information from the original decision maker that details the process that was followed and how the original decision was reached.

(16) If the Committee Chair determines that:

  1. the grounds for appeal have not been met, they may dismiss it without a hearing;
  2. a clear error or misapplication of process has occurred, they may request that the original decision maker reconsider its decision, on advice from the General Counsel if necessary;
  3. the appeal has merit, they may refer the appeal to the Committee for hearing (Step 2).

    Where the Committee Chair has a conflict of interest, the Deputy Chair or a member of the Committee nominated by the Committee Chair will make this decision.

(17) If the appeal is dismissed the student will be notified within five working days of the decision being made, the reasons for the decision and information about avenues for external reviews. Student visa holders will also be informed about the need to inform the University should they intend to request review by an external body.

(18) A decision by the Committee Chair to dismiss an appeal is final.

(19) If the Committee Chair accepts the appeal, a meeting of the Committee will be convened to hear the appeal.

Interim Directions of the Committee Chair

(20) The student’s enrolment must be maintained pending the completion of the appeals process outlined in regulation 36 of the Academic Board Regulations and this Procedure, except in instances as outlined in clause 21.

(21) The temporary removal of a student pending the outcome of an appeal should only occur in circumstances where the emergency and exceptional powers in regulation 15 of the Vice-Chancellor Regulations apply or where a Student Misconduct Committee Chair determines that a penalty of suspension or exclusion should be implemented immediately according to the Student Misconduct procedure.

Step 2: Committee Hearing

Panel Composition

(22) The determination about which members of the Committee will be on the hearing panel will include consider:

  1. the composition requirements set out in the University Appeals Committee Terms of Reference and regulation 8 of the Academic Board Regulations;
  2. availability;
  3. avoidance of any member who has, or may be perceived to have, a bias or conflict of interest in the matter;
  4. where the appeal involves research students or research integrity, at least one of the members apart from the Committee Chair must be a supervisor of higher degree by research student/s; and
  5. the requirement that at least three members of the Committee be present to hear an appeal.

(23) A bias or conflict of interest in a matter may include, but is not limited to:

  1. involvement or association with, or alleged involvement or association with, the circumstances relating to the matter that is the subject of the appeal;
  2. past or present close association with:
    1. the student who is the subject of the appeal;
    2. a person who made an allegation; or
    3. a close relative of either.

(24) Committee members must declare any actual or perceived conflict of interest to the Committee Chair prior to hearing the appeal.

(25) A person who is excluded from the panel due to a conflict of interest may still provide supporting material or documents or provide information relevant to an appeal.

Prior to the hearing

(26) The University Appeals Committee Secretariat will schedule the hearing and distribute all available relevant documentation to the Committee and student.

(27) At least five university working days’ notice of the date and location of the hearing will be provided to the student. Other relevant parties will also be notified of the hearing and may be asked to attend.

(28) The University Appeals Committee Secretariat will also advise the student of their right to:

  1. provide additional relevant information to their written submission and the deadline for this;
  2. attend and speak at the hearing in person or other communication means, including to ask questions of the Committee and answer questions asked by the Committee;
  3. call witness/es to the hearing;
  4. bring a support person and/or DUSA Advocate to the hearing provided the person:
    1. is not an Australian legal practitioner, except with the permission of the Chair; and
    2. has not been involved, or alleged to be involved, in the matter being determined.

(29) If the student chooses not to attend or participate in the hearing process, the Committee may proceed with the hearing and make a decision in the student’s absence.

At the hearing

(30) The Committee shall hear an appeal in accordance with regulation 36 of the Academic Board Regulations.

(31) Hearings are conducted as follows:

  1. as expeditiously with as little formality and technicality as possible;
  2. members of the Committee conducting the appeal
    1. must act fairly and impartially, and conduct themselves in an unbiased, professional and courteous manner;
    2. must treat all information presented as confidential;
    3. are not bound by the legal rules of evidence and may inform themselves as the Committee thinks fit;
    4. must exercise independent judgement.
  3. the student appealing the decision must be given an opportunity to be heard orally or in writing or both.

(32) Where a student brings a support person to the hearing and the support person has expertise likely to assist the Committee on procedural, technical or factual matters or if the student has additional support requirements, the Committee will allow the support person to speak on the student’s behalf.

(33) The Committee may adjourn a hearing at any time but must continue to hear the matter in person or by circulation as soon as possible afterwards. The panel composition must remain the same throughout the hearing.

PART C: Decision

(34) The Committee will privately consider all the information presented at the hearing and make a decision on whether it is more likely than not that the student has established the ground/s of appeal. The decision is reached by a simple majority of Committee members with the Chair having the casting vote.

(35) The Committee will make a decision at the end of the hearing or as soon as possible afterwards.

(36) In accordance with regulation 36.7 of the Academic Board Regulations, the Committee may:

  1. dismiss the appeal if the grounds are not made out; or
  2. uphold the appeal, in whole or in part.

(37) If the Committee upholds an appeal, it shall:

  1. make a new finding;
  2. impose outcomes as set out in the relevant procedure or Schedule 1 of the Academic Board Regulations; and/or
  3. refer the matter back to the original decision maker for re-hearing, in whole or in part. The Committee may also make recommendations to the Faculty, Institute or University on quality improvement and preventative or corrective actions.

(38) The Committee Chair will give the student written notice of the appeal outcome and reasons for decision within five working days and notify any other relevant stakeholder including but not limited to:

  1. the original committee or panel whose decision was subject of the appeal;
  2. the Deakin International Compliance Group where the student is an international student and an outcome might affect the student’s enrolment;
  3. the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Deakin Research where the student is a higher degree by research student.

(39) The Committee’s decision is final and binding within the University.

(40) The written notice of the appeal outcome will inform the student that they can seek an external review of final University decisions by the Victorian Ombudsman. Students may also access other external organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

(41) The decision of the Committee will be implemented immediately, subject to the provisions under clause 42.

(42) The student’s enrolment will be maintained:

  1. until the end of the University’s appeal process, except where the Vice-Chancellor has given a direction under the emergency and exceptional powers or an immediate suspension or exclusion has been determined under clause 21;
  2. for students appealing decisions about unsatisfactory academic progress, until the conclusion of an external appeal, where the decision of the University is upheld.

Written notifications

(43) All written notifications made under this Procedure will be by email to the student’s Deakin and last known private email addresses.

Records and reporting

(44) Records of appeals will be kept in accordance with the relevant University policy.

(45) Documents and correspondence will be provided to the relevant Faculty or Institute for record keeping purposes, and outcomes will be recorded in TRIM to the student file.

(46) The University Appeals Committee Chair will report to the Academic Board in accordance with the Student Appeals policy. These reports may also inform future policy and management decisions.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(47) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Faculty: an academic organisational unit established as a Faculty by Councilin accordance with regulation 16 of the Council Regulations.
  2. Institute: an Institute established by Council in accordance with regulation 17 of the Council Regulations. Institutes may be established either within or outside a Faculty in accordance with regulation 8 of the Vice-Chancellor Regulations.
  3. original decision: the decision that is being appealed.
  4. original decision maker: the body or committee who made the original decision that is being appealed.
  5. student: has the meaning given in the Deakin University Act and includes a person who was a student at the time the relevant conduct occurred, as defined in the Academic Board Regulations. Student includes:  
    1. a person enrolled in a course or unit in the University pursuant to Part 5 - Admission, Selection and Enrolment of the Academic Board Regulations;  
    2. a student of another higher education institution to whom Deakin grants rights of access to University Premises and facilities;  
    3. a candidate for an award of the University whose work has been examined or assessed but on whom the award has not been conferred;  
    4. a person who was a student at the time the relevant conduct occurred;  
    5. a person who is on leave of absence from or who has intermitted or deferred enrolment in a unit or course of the University;  
    6. a person designated as a student by Council.

      Student may be further defined in the procedure under which the original decision was made.
  6. relevant procedure: the procedure under which the original decision was made.
  7. University working day: any day on which the University is open for business and excludes all Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays that are observed by the University and University holidays declared on an annual basis (such as Easter Tuesday and Christmas shutdown periods).