Appeals and Complaints

Appeals to the University Appeals Committee

Policy Code: CG1840

Purpose

Federation University Australia is dedicated to providing students with access to effective and high-quality learning, teaching and research opportunities for Australian and International Students.

As part of the University's commitment to its student's learning, this procedure aims to provide a fair and just learning environment by ensuring access to appeals processes that provide for the following:

  • Procedural fairness;
  • transparency and accountability;
  • the provision of regular procedural review; and
  • the enhancement of the appeals process and outcomes.

Scope

This procedure applies to all academic related appeals for both the Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Educational Training (VET) Sectors at local and partner provider campuses (both on-shore and off-shore) and locations including students who are enrolled in the University's long distance learning courses and programs.

Appeals the University Appeals Committee will consider are:

- Special Consideration

- Final Grade

- Plagiarism

- Exclusion or Suspension from Program

- Rejection of Leave from Studies Application

- Adverse decisions made by the Executive Dean of Faculty

Definitions

Academic Board: Means a Board established pursuant to the Federation University Australia Act 2010.
Agency: Includes the Victorian Ombudsman, the Privacy Commissioner, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (for International Students in relation to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act(“ESOS”).
Appeal: Means an escalation step which may be open to a Student if the Student is dissatisfied with an adverse decision, or perceives an adverse outcome, and an Appeal may be an Internal Appeal or an External Appeal.
Committees: Means a committee appointed under University Legislation and may include an Appeal Committee or a Student Discipline Committee.
Student Appellant: The Student submitting an Appeal.
External Appeal: An appeal to an external Agency against a Final Decision of the University.
Final Decision: A written decision communicated to a Student where any rights of Internal Appeal have been exhausted.
Internal Appeal: An appeal to a Staff member or Committee from a decision (other than a Final Decision) made under a University Procedure, Legislation or other process that prescribes a right of Internal Appeal.
International Student: A person holding an Australian student visa, enrolled in a CRICOS registered course, as a Student of the University, studying on shore in Australia.
Legislation: Means the Federation University Australia Act (2010) and the University Statutes and Regulations.
Principles of Natural Justice: Means general procedural fairness in decision making. More information about this can be found in the University Fair and Transparent Decision Making Guidelines.
Privacy: Means information protected under the Information Privacy Act (VIC) in accordance with the University’s Information Privacy Policy.
Procedures: Means University Procedures published on the University Policy website.
Respondent: A person who must respond to the Appeal on behalf of the University.
Faculty Decision: A decision made by a Faculty within the University, through its Faculty based Committee or Executive Dean of Faculty.
Staff: Any person who is an employee of the University at the time of the Appeal and this includes full-time, part-time, sessional or casual Staff.
Student: Any person enrolled as a student of Federation University Australia.
Support Person: Means an observer (who is not a lawyer) who accompanies a Party during the Appeal.
University: Means Federation University Australia.
Working Day: Monday through to Friday but excluding days which are designated as University holidays.

Grounds for Appeals to the University Appeals Committee

A student may lodge an appeal to the University Appeals Committee on the following grounds:

New Evidence

New information not known to the student at the date of the decision being appealed, which becomes apparent after the date of that decision; or

Irregularity of Procedure

A procedural irregularity has occurred during the recommending and/or making of the decision appealed against.

New Evidence

New evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Compassionate and compelling circumstances which were not made known to the decision maker who made the adverse decision against the student. Compassionate or compelling circumstances are beyond the control of the student and they have directly impacted on the student’s capacity and/or ability to progress through a program. The following are some examples of what may be considered compassionate or compelling circumstances:
    Serious illness or injury, where a health professional certificate states that the student was unable to attend an exam or submit an assignment by the due date.
    If a student appeals on the basis of health issues during the semester and failed to apply for Special Consideration, the Appeals Committee will not consider the appeal unless there were exceptional circumstances as to why the student was not able to apply for Special Consideration.
  2. Bereavement due to loss of a close family member such as a parent or grandparent at the time of an exam or assessment due date.
    The University Appeals Committee will investigate if Leave from Studies or Special Consideration was applied for at the time of a loved one passing and if not why. A death certificate is also required to be submitted, even if this documentation has been submitted to the University, with the University Appeals Committee Form for the appeal to be considered.
  3. Major political upheaval or natural disaster in the home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on studies
    Counselling report or other relevant documentation will need to be submitted with the University Appeals Committee Form to assist in the consideration of the appeal.
  4. A traumatic experience which could include but is not limited to:
  • Involvement in or witnessing of a serious accident;
  • a serious crime committed against the student;
  • the student has been a witness to a serious crime, and this has impacted on the student.

These cases require evidence in the form of police or psychologist's reports to be submitted with the University Appeals Committee Form to assist in the consideration of the appeal.

Irregularity of Procedure

Irregularity of procedure in the recommending and/or making of the decision made against you, may include:

  • There is evidence that the decision was made on the basis of personal bias or ill will;
  • There is evidence of a breach of relevant University legislation (a statute or a regulation) in the handling of the decision making;
  • There is evidence that the assessment by the decision maker who made the adverse decision against you did not comply with the criteria in the Course Description (Higher Education) or Unit Outline (VET);
  • There is evidence the assessment by the decision maker who made the adverse decision against you did not comply with University policies and procedures regarding the assessment.

Lodgement of an Appeal

The student must:

- Lodge the appeal via the Appeals to the University Appeals Committee (UAC) Form. Appeals lodged without the 'Appeals to the University Appeals Committee Form' will not be accepted. The form has been designed to guide students in making the best possible appeal submission and to streamline processes for administration of the appeal process, all appeals MUST be lodged using this form;

- Address the appeal Submission to the:

Executive Officer, University Appeals Committee
the University
PO Box 663
BALLARAT VIC 3350
AUSTRALIA

- State information required in Section C of the Appeals to the University Appeals Committee Form and complete all sections of the form ;

- Attach the required document to support their appeal submission. Refer to the University Appeals Committee Checklist.

The Appeals to the University Appeals Committee Form must:

1. State the ground(s) for appeal in accordance with Regulation 2.2 - Appeals Committee, section 3 (2) -

Appeals to University Appeals Committee

3.2) An appeal must be lodged with the Secretary of the University Appeals Committee within 10 days of the date of the decision appealed against and must be based on one, or both, of the following grounds:

  1. new evidence, now known to the student at the date of the decision being appealed, which becomes apparent since the date of that decision;
  2. irregularity of procedure in the recommending and/or the making of the decision appealed against.

2. Confirm the student's contact information and preferred method of communication as stated in the UAC Appeals Form.

3. Be accompanied by:

  • a copy of the letter from the Executive Dean of Faculty confirming that the appeal to the Executive Dean has been dismissed/rejected;
  • a written statement summarising details of the appeal and where applicable, relevant new evidence relating to the ground(s) for appeal as to enable the University Appeals Committee to prepare for the appeal hearing. Failure to present the new evidence claimed in the UAC Appeals Form may affect the outcome of the hearing by the University Appeals Committee;

4. Where applicable, state the irregularity of procedure and how this has affected the outcome of the initial review;

5. Clearly state the outcome that you are seeking.

Eligibility and Timelines

The student must have received written notification from the Executive Dean of Faculty either via their University student email account (which will have the letter attached) and a letter sent via Australia Post, that their appeal to the Executive Dean of Faculty has been dismissed before lodging an appeal to the Appeals Committee. All international students are advised their email address is the main form of correspondence from the University. The appealing student must send a copy of the Executive Dean's Appeal dismissal/rejection letter with the Appeal to the University Appeals Committee Form. The University Appeals Committee will not consider appeals without a copy of the Executive Dean's letter attached.

The completed University Appeals Committee Form together with the required supporting documentation (refer to Appeal Submission Checklist) must be submitted to ensure delivery within 10 working days following notification of the dismissal of your appeal from your Executive Dean of Faculty.

Important Student Information:

  • Students may only appeal against a decision of the Faculty/Executive Dean where there is evidence of a breach of University legislation, policy or procedure by the Faculty that had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the application for the appeal to the Faculty.
  • The student must be currently enrolled or have been granted an approved leave of absence to be eligible to lodge an appeal;
  • Appeal submission must be made via the University Appeals Committee Form with the relevant ground/s of appeal selected;
  • If an appeal's timeline is over a period when the University is closed (eg. Christmas shutdown) the appealing student will be advised in writing that either the timeline for lodging paperwork is still enforced or the timeline extended due to University closure.

Late appeal applications to the University Appeals Committee will not be accepted.

Student Assistance

University students who wish to lodge an appeal are strongly advised to seek the assistance of the following, who can provide advice and guidance as to the lodging of the appeal, preparation for an appeals hearing and the procedure at an appeals hearing:
Student Advisory Service
Phone: 03 5327 6105
Executive Officer, University Appeals Committee
Phone: 03 5327 9253

Appeal Processing and Consideration

Step Action
Step 1

Acknowledgement of Appeal

When the Executive Officer to the University Appeals Committee or nominee receives an UAC Appeals Form and supporting documentation from a student, they will send the appealing student an appeal acknowledgement letter via the student's email address nominated on the UAC Appeals Form (or express post if the student has nominated post as their preferred method of correspondence) within 1-3 working days of receiving the appeal.

The acknowledgement letter will state:

  • Student's name
  • Student number
  • Grounds of the appeal
  • Appeal reference number

Copies of the acknowledgement letter will be forwarded to the Executive Dean of Faculty and the Centre for University Partnerships (CUP) where applicable.

Step 2

Gathering Evidence and Creating Case Summary

The Executive Officer will investigate and gather information/evidence relating to the student's appeal and present the findings in the form of a Case Summary and forward to the Chair, UAC for review.

The Case Summary must contain the following information:

  • Date
  • Appeal number
  • Student's full name and identification number
  • Summary of case and list of evidence submitted and collated
  • Executive Officer's recommendation
  • Chair's decision and signature accompanied by the date the Chair submits his/her decision.
Step 3

Establishing Grounds for Appeal

The Chair of the University Appeals Committee will consider whether grounds for appeal have been demonstrated and advise the Executive Officer.

No Grounds for an Appeal

If the application for the appeal is not granted, the Executive Officer will advise the student of the Chair's decision via email or post (depending on student's preference) and include information advising of the next step of the appeal by providing contact details for the Victorian Ombudsman.

Grounds for an Appeal

If the Chair of the University Appeals Committee finds that there are grounds for an appeal, the Appeals Committee will be convened within 28 working days of receipt of the appeal.

The Executive Officer will then:

  • Contact the student via phone to arrange a date and time for the appeal hearing. If the student is unable to physically attend the hearing, the University Appeals Committee will call the student on a phone number nominated by the student and conduct the hearing via teleconference.
  • Book a meeting room and contact two members of the University Appeals Committee and a student representative to invite them to attend the hearing.
  • Contact the Executive Dean of Faculty to nominate a representative to attend the hearing.
  • Compose the agenda and attach all the relevant paperwork/evidence and send via email to Committee members and the Faculty's representative and to the student via the student's preferred method of communication (as nominated on the student's UAC Appeals Form). If any additional evidence is to be considered after the initial distribution of the agenda and papers, the evidence must be distributed to all parties prior to the meeting.
  • Contact the appealing student the day prior to the hearing and confirm if they have received the information via email or post and if their contact details are correct.

Please Note: For appeals where the student has been excluded, the Executive Deans of Faculties and the Centre for University Partnerships are to be sent copies of all correspondence to students by the Executive Officer to the University Appeals Committee or nominee.

Appeal Hearing Documentation

The Executive Officer will collate all documents relevant to the appeal hearing and distribute to all parties including the members of the University Appeals Committee, the appealing student and the Faculty representative. The documentation will include:

  • The Executive Dean's Letter to the student advising the decision/outcome against which the appeal has been lodged
  • Appeals Form submitted by the appealing student accompanied by evidence to support the appeal
  • The response to the allegation provided by the responsible officers
  • The relevant statute/regulation/policy/procedure
  • Any additional written evidence requested by the University Appeals Committee

All Appeal related documentation will remain confidential as per the University's:

University Appeals Committee Membership

The University Appeals Committee shall consist of four members of whom:

  • one shall be the Chair as nominated by the Chair of Academic Board and shall hold the position for one year;
  • two shall be staff nominated by the Chair of Academic Board, and shall hold the position for a period of two years;
  • one shall be a student who is the member of a University committee or body, and shall hold the position for a period of one year.

Reasonable steps will be taken to have both genders represented on the University Appeals Committee.

Each Committee member has equal voting rights. The decision of the University Appeals Committee is a majority decision. However, if voting on a question at the appeals hearing is equal, the Chair has a casting vote.

The Executive Officer will be secretary to the University Appeals Committee. The Secretary does not have any voting rights.

University Appeal Committee members are required to:

  • Hear all evidence impartially
  • Base decisions on the evidence before them
  • Not advocate for the student or the Faculty
  • Balance the rights of the student with the need for fair and impartial decision-making for all students
  • Preserve the academic integrity of programs and standards on behalf of the University
  • Be scrupulously honest and exercise all due care and diligence in the performance of their duty
  • Maintain the confidentiality of information made available and of the Committees

Appeal Hearing Conduct

- The University Appeals Committee will give the student the opportunity to present their case.

- The Chair, UAC has the absolute discretion to determine the procedure to be followed and shall have complete authority to keep order.

- The UAC may inform itself in relation to any matter in such manner it thinks fit and is not bound by rules or practice as to evidence, which means that it may consider information, even if the information would not usually be admissible in a court of law.

- The student may not send a support person in their place, however may be accompanied by an observer. If an student fails to appear before the University Appeals Committee, the Committee will hear the case in their absence.

- The observer:

  • may not be a qualified legal practitioner;
  • may not act as a legal representative; and
  • may not speak on behalf of the student at the hearing.

- The Chair of the University Appeals Committee may exclude the observer from the hearing if he/she disrupts or unreasonably impairs the conduct of the hearing.

- The recording or filming of the hearing proceedings is not permitted.

- Members of the Committee will meet for 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the hearing to discuss the matter before them.

- At the commencement of the appeal hearing, the student and observer (if any) will be invited into the hearing room. The Chair will introduce all parties and explain the procedure. The student will be invited to speak to present his/her case. Following the student's oral submission the student will be invited to stay or leave the room for the Faculty representative's presentation.

- The Faculty representative, on the Executive Dean's behalf will then be invited to into the hearing room to present the Faculty's reasoning behind dismissing the original appeal.

- The Chair will then inform the student that, where possible, he/she will contact the student later that day to verbally advise him/her of the hearing's outcome. The Chair will further advise the student that he/she will receive written advice via email and express post within 5 working days.

- The student will then leave the hearing

- The Chair may suspend the hearing and reconvene the Committee at a later date.

University Appeal Committee Decisions

In response to an appeal , the University Appeals Committee may either:

- Dismiss the decision of the Executive Dean of Faculty; or

- Uphold the decision of the Executive Dean of Faculty; and in upholding the appeal may;

  • In an appeal against a final grade in a course, refer the matter back to the Executive Dean with advice to follow certain procedures consistent with Regulation 5.3 and Regulation 6.1.1.1; or
  • In all other appeals impose conditions on the student's candidature or enrolment in the program.

Actions by the UAC Executive Officer Following the Appeal Hearing

  ACTION STAFF
1. Where possible contact the student via phone to advise of the Committee's decision on the same day as the hearing was held. Chair, UAC
2.

Advise the student of the University's Appeal Committee's decision in writing within five working days of the decision being made.

The outcome letter will document the outcome of the considerations made by the Committee and the reasons behind the decision. The letter will be sent by email (to the email address nominated on the UAC Appeals Form, if any) and express post to the student with copies sent to the relevant University staff (Executive Dean, Faculty Appeals Officer, Centre for University Partnerships)

Executive Officer, UAC
3. A copy of the outcome letter is placed on the student's file. Executive Officer, UAC
4.

Following each round of appeals hearings, the Executive Officer will submit a report of the outcomes to Academic Board with a copy sent to the Director Academic Services.

The Chair, UAC reports to Academic Board on the basis of the report provided.

A UAC outcomes report will also be sent to each of the Faculty's Faculty Board for noting following each round of appeal hearings.

Executive Officer, UAC

External Appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman

The decision of the University Appeals Committee is final and is not subject to further review within the University.

If the student's appeal to the UAC is unsuccessful, but they believe that the University made an unfair decision, the student can submit a complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is independent and impartial, and provides a free service. The student can request a review by the Ombudsman online or in writing. If the student chooses to submit a complaint, they have 10 working days from the date they are deemed to have received the UAC decision to provide evidence of lodgement to the UAC. Their right to appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman is not limited to 10 working days. However the University must notify DIISRTE/DIAC that the student has not achieved satisfactory academic progress after 10 working days if no evidence of an appeal is received.

Domestic students should be advised that they are not limited by the ten day deadline but that they should submit their complaint to the Ombudsman as soon as possible.

Student visa holders who choose to appeal the University Appeals Committee decisions to the VO must advise the University within 10 working days of receipt of the University Appeals Committee decision. All correspondence in regard to the notification of intention to appeal to the VO, and after lodgement of appeal, the VO case reference number provided to students by the VO on receipt of the appeal should be addressed to the:

Manager, Compliance

Centre for University Partnerships
PO Box 663, Ballarat, Victoria, 3350;

or email CUP@federation.edu.au

Failure to do so will result in the student being reported to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

International Students studying in Australia on a Student Visa

Where a student visa holder, whose enrolment is excluded:

  • does not appeal the exclusion within the prescribed time lines; or
  • appeals the exclusion and is unsuccessful; or
  • appeals the exclusion and later withdrawals the appeal.

The University must notify Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) of the student not achieving satisfactory progress. This will have particular consequences for international students in respect to their student visa.

Correspondence to be Actioned Following the Hearing

  ACTION STAFF
1.

The student will be notified of the outcome of the considerations made by the committee and the reasons for the decision following the hearing within 5 working days of the meeting via email to their University allocated email address and mailed to their preferred mailing address:

  • Where the University Appeals Committee applies conditions to a student's continued enrolment the formal notification will include information about the implications for the student and the process within the Faculty.
  • Where the University Appeals decides to uphold the student's exclusion from their program the formal notification will include information about the implications for the student and the process for appeal for the Victorian Ombudsman.
Executive Officer, UAC
2.

Copy of the the outcome letter sent to the student will be sent to the relevant Faculty.

In the case of international students, Centre for University Partnerships will also receive a copy the same correspondence.

Executive Officer, UAC
3. Copy of the minutes from the University Appeals Committee hearing are forwarded to the Faculty as a reference and to Academic Board for noting.
Executive Officer, UAC
4. Copy of the minutes and recommendations will be sent to the Executive Dean of Faculty and the Faculty's Appeals Officer. Executive Officer, UAC
5. Memo of recommendations are sent to the relevant Executive Dean of Faculty and the Executive Officer to the Faculty Board for noting/discussion. Executive Officer, UAC

Supporting Documents

University Policies and Procedures

Student Appeal Policy

Student Appeal Procedure

Fair and Transparent Decision Making Guidelines

Information For Students Applying For Special Consideration (Including Deferral of an Examination) Guidelines

Deferment and Leave From Studies Policy

Deferment, Suspension or Cancellation of a Student's Enrolment (ESOS Specific) Procedure

Information Privacy Policy

Information Privacy Statement - Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information.

Other

University Student Appeals Handbook - Currently in review

University Appeals Process Flowchart - Currently in review

Proformas & Templates

Appeals Form Student to use: Appeals to the University Appeals Committee Form

Proforma & Template Link
Appeal Forms to the Executive Dean
Appeal to the Executive Dean Form: Plagiarism Currently being developed
Appeal to the Executive Dean Form: Special Consideration Currently being developed
Appeal to the Executive Dean Form: Final Grade Currently being developed
Appeal to the Executive Dean Form: Leave from Studies Currently being developed
Appeal to the Executive Dean Form: Exclusion/Suspension Currently being developed
Appeal Form to the UAC
UAC Appeal Form Currently being reviewed
Letter from Executive Dean of Faculty
Plagiarism Outcome Letter - Upheld Currently being reviewed
Plagiarism Outcome Letter - Dismissed Currently being reviewed
Special Consideration Outcome Letter - Upheld Currently being reviewed
Special Consideration Outcome Letter- Dismissed Currently being reviewed
Final Grade Outcome Letter - Upheld Currently being reviewed
Final Grade Outcome Letter - Dismissed Currently being reviewed
Leave from Studies Outcome Letter - Upheld Currently being reviewed
Leave from Studies Outcome Letter - Dismissed Currently being reviewed
Exclusion/Suspension Outcome Letter - Upheld Currently being reviewed
Exclusion/Suspension Outcome Letter - Dismissed Currently being reviewed
University Appeals Committee
Acknowledgement Letter Currently being reviewed
Outcome Letter Currently being reviewed

Responsibility

Responsible Officer

The Chair of Academic Board in collaboration with the Chair of the University Appeals Committee is responsible for the development, compliance monitoring and review of this procedure and any associated documents.

Implementation Officer

The Executive Officer of the University Appeals Committee is responsible for the announcing and implementation of this procedure. Enquiries about the interpretation of this procedure should be directed to the Executive Officer of the University Appeals Committee.

Promulgation

The Appeals to the University Appeals Committee will be communicated throughout the University via:

  1. an Announcement Notice under ‘FedNews’ webpage: http://federation.edu.au/news
  2. ‘Recently Approved Documents’ webpage to alert the University-wide community of the approved policy/procedure;
  3. inclusion on the University Policy Library: http://policy.federation.edu.au/ ;
  4. links on the University Appeals Webpage:http://federation.edu.au/staff/governance/academic-board/academic-delegations/appeals
  5. distribution of e-mails to Executive Deans of Faculty, relevant University staff including staff at partner provider locations.

Implementation

The Appeals to the University Appeals Committee will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. Presentation to Academic Board
  2. Training Sessions and workshops for Faculty Appeals Officers and relevant support staff; and/or
  3. Consultation and/or presentation sessions to relevant staff at partner provider locations.

Forms/Record Keeping

Title Location Responsible Officer Minimum Retention Period
Final Grade Appeal Form to the Executive Dean University Appeals Drive Faculty Appeals Officer

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

Exclusion Appeal Form to the Executive Dean University Appeals Drive Faculty Appeals Officer

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

Other - Appeal Form to the Executive Dean University Appeals Drive Faculty Appeals Officer

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

Appeal Form to the UAC University Appeals Drive Executive Officer, UAC

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

UAC Appeals Database Academic Secretariat Drive Executive Officer, UAC

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

UAC Appeals Outcome Report - Academic Board Academic Secretariat Drive Executive Officer, UAC

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)

UAC Appeals Outcome Report (Faculty specific) - Faculty Board Academic Secretariat Drive Executive Officer, UAC

15 years: Appeal Upheld

7 years: Appeal not Upheld (dismissed)