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Office of the Ombudsperson - Confidential, Impartial and Independent

1. Academic Appeals

Be aware of the deadlines, policies, procedures, forms and resources available

Be proactive

At RU it is expected “…that students will deal with issues which may affect academic performance as soon as they arise.”

In other words, you need to be proactive about bringing issues that are affecting your academics (e.g. personal, medical, financial etc.) to the attention of your instructors and/or your Chair or Program Director, to see if an informal resolution to the issue can be reached.  If the issues were unforeseen (e.g. sudden illness or life difficulties), it is expected that you would advise your instructors and/or your Chair or Program Director as soon as is reasonably possible.

Please keep in mind if you are reluctant to let others know about your personal problems that are affecting your academic success that you do not need to provide all the details of your personal life. However, in order to get the support or accommodations you need to be successful, you need to let an academic advisor or your instructors know that you are dealing with some issues and may need some assistance in making other arrangements.

Be practical

Remember that you can only receive grades which reflect your knowledge of the course material. Think about what you are seeking from an appeal (i.e. what is the solution you are proposing) or from an academic accommodation.

"It should be understood that students can only receive grades which reflect their knowledge of the course material."

Be prepared and be clear

Make sure that you have reviewed the policy and rules beforehand and submit all appeals or other documents by the appropriate deadlines.  Make sure you have included the right forms and all required documentation.

Your responsibility in an academic appeal is to help the instructor or other decision maker understand your perspective and explain why you should be treated differently than other students given your particular circumstances. Academic appeals are decided on a "balance of probabilities," which means that after hearing both sides of the story and examining all of the information, the decision maker must be able to say: "More likely than not, the fair decision in this case is ..."

There is a distinction in RU policy between an “academic appeal”; “academic consideration” and a “grade reassessment”. 

Academic Consideration

Throughout the semester (until you get your final grade) it may be appropriate to ask for ACADEMIC CONSIDERATION such as requesting an extension for an assignment or a make-up date for a missed test or exam, because of unforeseen heath or compassionate circumstances.

In all such cases you are expected to make arrangements with your instructor in advance, or at least within three (3) days of the missed work. If this wasn't possible you will need to explain why not. If you are not able to resolve an issue with your instructor, you can ask the Chair/Program Director for assistance.

To arrange academic accommodation for religious observances or due to a disability you need to make arrangements in advance. This is the link to the form for requesting accommodation for religious observance.

If you have a disability and need accommodations you need to be registered with the Academic Accomodation Support (formerly Access Centre). Once you are registered with the Academic Accomodation Support you will receive a document that describes what accommodations you require that you will then provide to your instructors as early in the semester as possible. The nature of your disability WILL NOT be known to anyone outside of the Academic Accomodation Support.

Academic Appeal

At the end of a semester you may decide to file an ACADEMIC APPEAL of a final course grade or academic standing if you believe you were not given academic consideration during the term or something was handled incorrectly at the end of the term.  The formal appeal process is set out in Senate Policy 134 for undergraduate students and Senate Policy 152 for graduate students. You must meet the deadlines for filing an appeal.

There are 5 grounds for a grade appeal:

Prejudice. Limited to prohibited grounds as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code like gender, sexual orientation, place of origin, etc.

Medical. Relevant medical documentation is required to demonstrate how your academic progress was affected by an illness or injury.

Compassionate. If events or circumstances beyond the control of and unforeseen by the student seriously impaired your ability to study, attend classes, prepare papers or write examinations (note: normally this would not include regular employment related circumstances). Relevant supporting documentation is often required.

Course Management. Where a student believes that a grade has been adversely affected because an instructor has deviated significantly from the Undergraduate or Graduate Course Management Policy of the University and/or from the course outline and/or has demonstrated personal bias or unfair treatment.

Procedural Error. This is when a student believes that there has been an error in the application of either the Academic Consideration or Appeals policy or any other policy of the University. Appeals granted on this ground will result in rectifying the procedural error.

To appeal your ACADEMIC STANDING of ‘Required to Withdraw’ (RTW) or Permanent Program Withdrawal (PPW), if you are an undergraduate student or your ACADEMIC STANDING of ‘Provisional’ or ‘Withdrawn’, if you are a graduate student you must provide substantive reasons for why your current standing is not appropriate. Standing appeals are generally based on medical or compassionate grounds or on procedural error with supporting documentation being provided.

Please note that not every academic grading decision can be appealed/reconsidered (e.g. presentations, performances, internships, group projects can usually not be reassessed given that there is no way for a different assessor to see what was presented or performed at the time the original grade was decided upon by the instructor).

Grade Reassessment

This part of the Policy will be retired in Fall 2018

Please see the Grade Reassessment and Grade Recalculation Policy 162 (Fall 2018)

If you find that an assignment has not been properly graded, you may consider asking your instructor for a reassessment of that assignment. This request needs to be made within 10 working days of when the assignment was returned to the class. If you ask for a reassessment of your work, you will need to explain why you believe the grade you received is incorrect or unfair and should therefore be reassessed.

If you do not believe your instructors’ reassessment of your academic work was done fairly or you have not heard back from your instructor regarding your request for reassessment within five working days, or if you do not feel comfortable raising the issue with the instructor, you may reach out to the Program Director or Chair and submit a written request explaining why you believe this piece of academic work should be reassessed. You need to contact the Program Director or Chair of the program or school or department that the course is offered in, (e.g. English Program Director if it’s an English course even though you are in the Business Management program).

In that request you need to outline why you think the original grade was not correct (or the reassessed grade) and provide evidence for how you came to this conclusion (such as information from your text book or instructor’s PowerPoints, or information in the course outline).

Please note that not every assignment can be reassessed independently (such as oral presentations or performances). Also keep in mind that when an assignment is being reassessed, the grade can go up, go down or remain the same. The grade you received through the reassessment is the grade that counts for your academic record. This is so, even if the grade went down after a reassessment. The revised grade cannot be appealed unless the grade reassessment was not done in line with the respective university policies on Academic Consideration or not done in the first place (Senate Policy 134 for Undergraduate Students and Senate Policy 152 for Graduate Students). It is also very important to keep in mind that your grade is earned based on the academic merit of your work. You cannot just ask for a better grade without rationale for why your work should have graded differently.

Remember to check the RU SIGNIFICANT DATES for Appeal, Transfer credit and other deadlines!

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