Area Responsible for Administration: Office of the Vice President, Academic
Approval Authorities: Academic College Council
Senior Executive Committee
Approval Date: July 18, 2018
Revision History: July 2018
Review Timeline: One year after implementation; every three years thereafter.

Purpose

To provide students with a fair, timely and consistent process to appeal decisions that impact their academic standing or progression, when the grounds for an academic appeal are met on the basis of merit of work, personal bias or unfair treatment, course management and/or extenuating circumstances.

Scope

This policy applies to students, faculty and employees of Seneca.

Key Definitions

Academic decision
A determination made by Seneca acting in accordance with academic policies and procedures.
Academic appeal
The process by which students may challenge an academic decision they have received.
Academic Appeal Committee
A group of designated students, faculty and academic administrators who listen to, analyze and decide the outcome of, an academic appeal.
Academic Appeal Assessment Committee
A group of designated, impartial members, who were not part of the Academic Appeal Committee (level two), including, where possible, a student representative designated by the Seneca Student Federation, to review the decision of the Academic Appeal Committee (level two), based on one or more of the grounds outlined by the student.
College business day
Monday to Friday, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, statutory holidays or any other day Seneca has publicly acknowledged that it is closed.
Grounds
The reason(s) used to challenge an academic decision, which the student believes to be unfair or unreasonable.
Restorative practice
Based on the values of inclusion, accountability and compassion, as well as the understanding that everyone is an equal member of society and has a contribution to make to the greater good, this approach enables those who have been harmed to convey the impact of the harm to those responsible, and for those responsible to acknowledge this impact and take steps toward resolution.

Policy

  1. General
    1. A restorative practice should be adopted, where students have ongoing conversations with their faculty and adviser to discuss academic expectations and concerns.  
    2. Students with no outstanding tuition fees may appeal any academic decision if it meets the criteria outlined in the Grounds for Appeal (See Appendix A).
    3. All aspects of the academic appeal process will be kept confidential.
    4. There are two levels to the academic appeal process: level one is the informal academic resolution process and level two is the formal academic appeal process.
    5. Each level of the academic appeal process has an associated timeline, which represents the maximum allowable time for the appeal. Every effort will be made to expedite the process to decrease the impact on the student’s academic status.
    6. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate each phase of the appeal process. If the student does not initiate a phase within the timelines set in Seneca’s Academic Appeal Procedure, Seneca shall consider the matter closed.
  2. Level One – Informal Academic Resolution Process
    1. If a student disagrees with an academic decision, they must discuss the matter with their faculty and program coordinator or chair as soon as possible to see if a mutually satisfactory solution can be reached in accordance with the timeline stated in Seneca’s Academic Appeal Procedure (See Appendix B).
    2. It is only when a resolution cannot be agreed upon through the informal appeal process that students may proceed to the formal academic appeal process.
  3. Level Two – Formal Academic Appeal Process
    1. If a student is unable to resolve a matter through the informal academic resolution process, they may file a formal academic appeal with Seneca. The student pursuing the formal academic appeal may request support from Student Services.
    2. All employees must cooperate with reasonable requests to provide documentation and to appear at a formal academic appeal meeting, unless there are extenuating circumstances preventing their participation.
    3. Pending the outcome of an appeal, a student may register for the next semester of their program, unless there is an issue of liability, safety and/or conduct that interferes with the teaching/learning process. The respective chair may impose compulsory conditions to be met by the student if they continue in the program while awaiting the outcome of the appeal.
    4. Formal Academic Appeal Assessment Process
      1. A student may apply for an assessment of the Academic Appeal Committee’s decision by initiating the Formal Academic Appeal Assessment Process. Students may only apply for an appeal assessment if one of the following grounds are met:
        • A substantial procedural error occurred during the Formal Academic Appeal Process
        • New documentation or information is available that, through no fault of the student, was not available at the time the appeal was heard by the Academic Appeal Committee
        • The sanctions imposed by the Academic Appeal Committee are unreasonable or substantially disproportionate to the circumstances or offence.
      2. For the purpose of clarification, the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee does not have the authority to re-hear an appeal on its merits, as the decision of the Academic Appeal Committee is final. If the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee determines that there are grounds to reconsider the student’s case, a new Academic Appeal Committee will be formed. Members of the new Academic Appeal Committee will not be the same members who heard the first appeal.

Supporting Documentation

Related Seneca Policies

Related Materials

  • None

Appendix A: Grounds for Appeal 

Grounds Explanation Suggested Supporting Documentation*
Merit of Work An academic decision that does not accurately reflect a student’s demonstrated abilities, actions and/or achievements. Examples include but are not limited to:
  • A breach of academic integrity, e.g., plagiarism, contract cheating
  • An assessment that may have been unfairly or inaccurately graded
  • Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).
  • Specific and detailed reasons, in writing, as to why the original grade was inaccurate
  • Any relevant documentation e.g. course notes, work experience, correspondence such as emails or letters, academic integrity documentation
  • Samples of student work from the course, such as essays, tests or assignments.
Personal Bias/Unfair Treatment
Note: If a concern relates to discrimination and/or harassment, please contact the Student Conduct Office and consult Seneca’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
Perceived unfair treatment of a student by a faculty member in comparison to their treatment of other students within the course that negatively impacted the student’s performance.
  • A written record of the events and an explanation of how they affected the student’s ability to succeed
  • Course outline or assignments if appropriate.
Extenuating Circumstance An unforeseen significant event or circumstance that affected the student’s ability to meet course requirements and was not accommodated.
For example, medical and/or legal issues, or other circumstances that have affected the student’s timely completion of an assignment, their academic performance or their ability to meet academic obligations.
Generally, employment commitments will not constitute grounds for academic appeal.
  • Note from a medical professional
  • Death certificate
  • Funeral arrangement documentation
  • Travel arrangement documentation
  • Legal issue documentation, such as summons or subpoena, notice of jury selection, eviction notice, etc.
  • Letters from counsellors, therapists or religious advisers.
Course Management A departure by faculty from the course outline that negatively affected the student’s academic performance.
Examples include:
  • Change in course delivery mode
  • Error in application of established grading criteria
  • Faculty not teaching to the learning outcomes.
  • Relevant course outline
  • Written record of the departure from the course outline and explanation of how it affected the student’s ability to succeed.

*Note: The supporting documentation suggested is not a comprehensive list and other documentation may be considered.

Appendix B: Academic Appeal Procedure 

Level One – Informal Academic Resolution Process

Action Duration, unless extenuating circumstances arise Responsibility
  • Once official grades are published on Student Centre, a student can discuss any concerns and/or issues with faculty and administrators in the following order:
        • Faculty member(s)
  • Program coordinator
  • Chair.
Within 10 days
of official grades being published on Student Centre
Student
  • The student and respective school will share all relevant information to resolve the issue, if possible.
  Student and faculty/administrators from respective school

Note: Advice regarding the informal academic resolution process and the formal academic appeal process is available through Student Services.

Level Two – Formal Academic Appeal Process

Action Duration, unless extenuating circumstances arise Responsibility
  • Where an appeal is not resolved through the Informal Academic Resolution Process and the student wishes to pursue the Formal Academic Appeal Process, they must deliver the academic appeal package to the respective chair, or designate, and pay the $25 non-refundable fee* to the Registrar’s Office. The academic appeal package must include the following:
    • Completed Academic Appeal Request Form
    • Relevant documentation (e.g., relevant correspondence, transcripts and supporting documentation)
    • The respective chair’s, or designate’s signature

*If the student’s academic appeal is successful, the $25 fee will be reimbursed to the student.

Note: Students with no outstanding tuition fees may appeal any academic decision, provided that it meets the criteria outlined in the Grounds for Appeal document.

The student who is pursuing the formal academic appeal process may request support from Student Services (e.g., to review the formal academic appeal process, ensure all relevant documentation is included in the package, prepare for meeting and set/manage expectations.)

Within five days upon receipt of written notification that the informal academic resolution process was not successful Student
  • Scan all documents related to the student’s academic appeal package and keep an electronic file in their records.
Within five days upon receipt of the student’s completed academic appeal package Program area administrator
  • Establish a meeting date and time based on the availability of all Academic Appeal Committee members and the student who submitted the completed academic appeal package.

Note:

  • Academic Appeal Committee membership consists of the chair/dean or designate, a minimum number of three faculty members who are not associated with the incident, and, where possible, a student representative designated by the Seneca Student Federation.
  • The student who submitted an academic appeal request form and completed package has the option to invite one person (e.g. a student services staff member) to attend the Academic Appeal Committee meeting as an observer only.
  • The faculty member and student have opportunity to view the entire package prior to meeting (with correspondence, material, etc.).
Within five days upon receipt of the student’s completed academic appeal package Program area administrator
  • Prepare the formal academic appeal decision letter, unless additional documentation is required to make an informed decision.
Within five days from the date on which the Academic Appeal Committee met Chair of the Academic Appeal Committee
  • Provide the formal academic appeal decision letter to the student electronically and by mail.
  Program area administrator

Formal Academic Appeal Assessment Process

The decision of the Academic Appeal Committee is final, unless the student believes their situation meets one of the three (3) grounds for formal academic appeal assessment outlined in the Academic Appeal policy.

Action Duration, unless extenuating circumstances arise Responsibility
1. Where the student wishes to appeal the Academic Appeal Committee’s decision, and one of the three grounds for a formal academic appeal assessment is met, they must pay the $25 non-refundable fee* to the Registrar’s Office. They must also deliver an electric or hard copy of the academic appeal assessment package to the Office of the Vice President, Academic. The academic appeal assessment package must include the following: Respective chair’s or designate’s signature *If the student’s academic appeal is successful, the $25 fee will be reimbursed to the student. Within five days from the date recorded on the Academic Appeal Committee’s formal decision letter Student
2. Establish a meeting date and time based on the availability of all Academic Appeal Assessment Committee members and a student representative from the Seneca Student Federation. The student who filed the appeal assessment will be notified of the date by email, but does not attend the meeting. as it is a review of the academic appeal process, not a re-hearing of the appeal Within 10 days upon receipt of the student’s completed academic appeal assessment package Office of the Vice President, Academic
3. Prepare the formal academic appeal assessment decision letter, unless additional documentation is required to make an informed decision Within five days from the date in which the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee met Chair of the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee
4. Provide the formal academic appeal assessment decision letter to the student electronically and by mail.
Scan any new documentation (e.g., meeting notes, correspondence, decision letter) and add it to the student’s original electronic and hard copy files.
Provide the student’s electronic and hard copy files to the respective program area
Within five days from the date in which the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee met Office of the Vice President, Academic
5. If the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee’s decision is in favour of the student, based on one or more of the grounds outlined, commence the Level 2 – Formal Academic Appeal Process, at the third action. Within five days from the date in which the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee met Office of the Vice President, Academic

Note: If the Academic Appeal Assessment Committee’s decision is not in favour of the student, the decision of the Academic Appeal Committee is final.

Academic Appeals Schematic for Students

Schematic for Students