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Student Appeals procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 12 March 2024.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Procedure documents the transparent, consistent and fair processes for students to appeal University decisions for which a right of appeal is specified in the Academic Board Regulations or University policy or procedure.

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Procedure applies to appeals by students against University decisions made under the relevant academic progress, higher degree by research assessment, academic integrity, research integrity and student misconduct procedures.

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Section 4 - Policy

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

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Section 5 - Procedure

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) 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).

(7) Students may appeal on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. a 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.

(8) 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.

(9) 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

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

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

(12) In their appeal submission, students:

  1. identify the original decision being appealed and attach a copy of the decision letter;
  2. specify the ground or grounds for appeal and explain how each ground applies to the case;
  3. include any other evidence to support their appeal.

(13) The student’s enrolment is maintained pending the completion of the appeals process, except in instances as outlined in clause 14.

(14) Subject to legislative requirements, a student’s enrolment may be varied pending the outcome of an appeal where the emergency and exceptional powers in regulation 15 of the Vice-Chancellor Regulations apply or where the original decision-maker had suspended or excluded the student.

Late appeals

(15) The Committee Chair or nominee may accept a late appeal, after the deadline specified in clause 10, where the student provides supporting material to show how exceptional circumstances prevented them from applying by the deadline. A student’s failure to check email is not an exceptional circumstance.

Administrative Review

(16) After a student submits an appeal, the Office of the Dean of Students (Student Appeals) conducts an administrative review of the submission to determine whether or not it has adequate substance to proceed to Chair review. If the submission is lacking in substance, the student is notified in writing that their appeal will not proceed.

Chair review

(17) The Committee Chair (or Deputy Chair as nominee) reviews the appeal submission and any information from the original decision-maker detailing the process that was followed in reaching the original decision.

(18) Where there is an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest, the Committee Chair nominates another Committee member to conduct the review.

(19) If the Committee Chair determines that:

  1. the ground/s for appeal have not been met, they may dismiss the appeal;
  2. a clear error or misapplication of process has occurred, they may direct the original decision- maker to revise its decision;
  3. the ground/s for appeal have been met, they may refer the appeal to the Committee for hearing.

(20) The Committee Chair communicates to the student the outcome of the Chair review, reasons for the decision and options for external review, where possible within 15 University working days.

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

(22) If the Committee Chair determines that the ground/s for appeal have been met, a meeting of the Committee will be convened to hear the appeal.

Committee hearing panel composition

(23) The hearing panel is comprised of at least three Committee members.

(24) Where a student is appealing a University decision relating to a breach of research integrity, at least one of the members apart from the panel Chair has expertise in research training and integrity.

(25) Where a student is appealing a University decision relating to unsatisfactory academic progress in a research program or an examination outcome in a higher degree by research, at least one of the members apart from the panel Chair has expertise in HDR supervision and graduate research training requirements.

(26) A hearing panel does not include any Committee member who has an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest in the matter.

Prior to the hearing

(27) The Office of the Dean of Students (Student Appeals) schedules the hearing and distributes all documentation to the Committee and student.

(28) The student is given at least five University working days’ notice in writing of the date and location of the hearing. Other relevant parties are notified of the hearing and may be asked to attend.

(29) Student Appeals advises the student in writing of their right to:

  1. provide a written response to the Committee;
  2. attend and participate in the hearing, and ask questions of 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 panel Chair; and
    2. has not been involved, or alleged to be involved, in the matter being determined.

(30) If the student chooses not to attend or participate in the hearing process, the Committee proceeds with the hearing and makes a decision in the student’s absence.

At the hearing

(31) The Committee shall hear an appeal in accordance with regulation 36 of the Academic Board Regulations and as efficiently and informally as possible.

(32) Hearing panel members:

  1. act fairly and impartially, and conduct themselves in an unbiased, professional and courteous manner;
  2. 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. exercise independent judgement.

(33) The Committee may allow a support person to speak on the student’s behalf where the support person has expertise likely to assist the Committee or if the student has particular support requirements.

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

Making a decision

(35) The Committee privately considers all the information presented at the hearing and makes 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 panel Chair having the casting vote.

(36) The Committee makes its decision at the end of the hearing or as soon as possible afterwards.

(37) In accordance with regulation 36.7 of the Academic Board Regulationsthe Committee may decide to:

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

(38) If the Committee upholds an appeal, it may:

  1. make a new finding;
  2. impose outcomes as set out in 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.

(39) The Committee may verbally provide the student with an outcome at the end of the hearing.

(40) Within five University working days of the hearing, the panel Chair sends the student written notice of the outcome of their appeal. The panel Chair also notifies other relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to:

  1. the original decision-maker;
  2. Deakin International where the student is an international student and an outcome might affect the student’s enrolment;
  3. the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation or nominee where the student is a higher degree by research student.

(41) The Committee’s decision is final within the University.

(42) The written notice of the appeal outcome informs the student that they can seek an external review of final University decisions by the Victorian Ombudsman.

(43) The Committee’s decision(s) will be implemented immediately, subject to the provisions under clause 14.

Records and reporting

(44) Student Appeals ensures records of appeals are kept in accordance with the Information and Records Management policy.

(45) The Committee reports appeal outcomes to the Academic Board, and may also make recommendations to the Faculty, Institute or University on quality improvement and preventative or corrective actions.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(46) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Faculty: an academic organisational unit established as a Faculty by Council in 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. In writing: for current Deakin students, their Deakin student email address; for students who have been suspended or excluded, their last known private email address.
  4. original decision: the decision that is being appealed.
  5. original decision maker: the body or committee who made the original decision that is being appealed.
  6. 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.
  7. relevant procedure: the procedure under which the original decision was made.
  8. University working day: any day on which the University is open for business and excludes all Saturdays, Sundays, and University holidays.