Academic Grievance, Complaints and Appeals Policy and Procedure


Academic Grievance, Complaints and Appeals Policy and Procedure

Latest Amendment/Approval Date: June 2023

1. Purpose

1.1 This policy is to ensure that all academic grievances are managed in a fair and objective manner, with the desired outcome of reaching a mutually acceptable solution in the shortest possible timeframe.

1.2 Academic grievances relate to matters such as admissions, student progress, assessment, curriculum and awards in a course of study. Where the issue is non-academic or administrative in nature, the procedures outlined in the Non-Academic Grievance Procedures should be followed.

2. Definitions

Academic decisions means decisions requiring the exercise of academic judgment.

Administrative decisions means decisions on administrative matters, the quality of administrative service or the provision of facilities

Appeal means:

  • a formal written request for reconsideration of a decision made by the College or any person or agent acting on behalf of the College and that is submitted to a person or body with authority to undertake that reconsideration within or on behalf of the College; or
  • a formal written request for a ruling on the legitimacy of a decision made by the College or any person or agent acting on behalf of the College and that is submitted to an external body that has powers or authority to investigate and determine the legitimacy of the decision

Advocate means a person other than a legal practitioner or a member of staff identified by a student to represent, accompany or assist in any meetings, hearings or interviews related to a student’s formal complaint or appeal

External appeal means a formal written request for a ruling on the legitimacy of a decision made by the College or any person or agent acting on behalf of the College and that is submitted to an external body that has powers or authority to investigate and determine the legitimacy of the decision

Formal process means a process for addressing a student’s grievance, dispute or appeal other than by “informal processes” (as defined later) and involving investigations and decisions being made in relation to the matter by an impartial and independent person or group of persons or body

Formal complaint means a complaint made or lodged by a student in relation to:

  • any matter in the control of the College that affects the student in his/her capacity as a student or as a general member of the College community; or
  • a decision made by the College or any person or body acting for, or on behalf of, the College that affects the student in his/her capacity as a student

Grievance means a problem or concern raised by a student in relation to an action, decision or omission

Informal process means a process which involves direct discussion between a student and a member of staff of the College, or internal mediation of a dispute, in relation to a student’s grievance with a view to reaching a settlement that is acceptable to the student and the College – the process cannot be followed where a student makes a written grievance

International student means a student or intending student who is not an Australian or New Zealand citizen and does not have Australian Permanent Residency status and who has entered into a current written agreement with the College to undertake a course or program of studies with the College

Investigating Officer means a member of staff appointed by the President to investigate a formal complaint.

Notification means the official notice provided to a student or provisional student (defined later) of the outcome of the student’s grievance or appeal, including any related decisions and the date from which the decisions take effect

Respondent means a person or persons or body concerning whose actions or omissions or decisions a student has a grievance

Student means, for the purposes of these procedures, a person who is currently enrolled at the College; or an intending student of the College.

3. Scope

3.1 This policy applies to all students undertaking a course at Campion College or in the process of being admitted into a course at Campion.

4. Principles

4.1 Campion College is committed to an equitable and enriching environment for students which fosters academic achievement and where the interactions amongst students and staff are based on mutual respect, fairness and fulfilment of obligations. The College’s Student Code of Conduct expresses the expectations which students may have of the College and which the College has of its students. The Student Code of Conduct, together with the rules and policies of the College, provide the framework for the interaction between the College, its staff and students.

4.2 Where a student has a concern regarding an academic decision or situation, the student has the right to raise and to have that grievance or appeal considered with courtesy, in a timely fashion, and without fear of prejudicial treatment. The student and respondent (if applicable) will not be victimised or discriminated against as a result of a grievance being raised.

4.3 The student and/or the respondent have the right to be accompanied and assisted by a third person such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person if they so desire. The support person is not permitted to be a legal representative of the student or the respondent. All Campion College students, regardless of the location where the matter has arisen, the student’s place of residence or the mode in which they study, can use the procedures outlined below. At all stages of the process, reasons and a full explanation for decisions and actions taken as part of the procedures will be provided if requested by a student and/or respondent.

5. Grievances and Appeals Process

A student has the option of pursuing a grievance through four levels internally, as well as an external review avenue:

  1. Informal discussion
  2. Formal written complaint or appeal to the Dean of Studies
  3. Appeal to an Academic Appeals Panel.
  4. External Review.

At each level, the student has the right to be assisted or accompanied by a support person.  Minutes of meetings during the formal levels of a grievance procedure will be taken and include:

  • time and date,
  • names and positions of those in attendance,
  • decision, including reasons for the decision.

5.1. First Level – Informal Discussion

5.1.1    Students should first attempt to resolve any problem by discussion and/or correspondence with the lecturer or tutor directly involved in, or close to, the situation which is the source of the grievance, as this is likely to lead to a resolution in the most straightforward way. Where a student has a concern about the mark or grade received for an assessment item or a unit of study, they must discuss the grievance with the lecturer, tutor or Unit Co-ordinator before considering a request for remark or a formal appeal.

5.1.2    Students have 20 working days from the receipt of a decision to notify the academic staff members responsible for the decision in writing that they wish to discuss their concerns.

5.1.3 The academic staff member has 10 working days to convene a meeting with the student.

5.2. Second Level – Formal written complaint or appeal to the Dean of Studies

5.2.1    If students are not satisfied that the matter has been resolved after the First Level—or if the matter is beyond the scope of a lecturer’s or tutor’s purview—they should take their complaint or appeal to the Dean of Studies within 10 working days of receiving the lecturer’s or tutor’s decision under the First Level.

5.2.2    The student must state clearly, in writing, the specific grounds upon which the formal complaint or appeal is being made and include all necessary supporting information and documentation.

5.2.3    The Dean of Studies will address the matter within 15 working days of receipt of the formal written complaint/appeal.

5.2.4    In a circumstance where the Dean of Studies is the original marker of an assignment or was already involved in the earlier stages of a grievance, the student may address this formal written complaint to the Associate Dean of Studies.

5.2.5    In the event that a student is contesting an assessment result, the Dean of Studies or Associate Dean of Studies may appoint a second marker who will be another academic staff member of the College. The second marker must provide a result to the Dean or Associate Dean within 10 working days of the request.

5.2.6    Where a student experiences illness or misadventure during the teaching period or during an examination, these are not normally grounds for a complaint or an appeal. Provision for these circumstances is made through a Request for Special Consideration, which must be lodged prior to the end of the examination period.

5.2.7    However, The Dean of Studies may consider if extraordinary circumstances have prevented the submission of a Special Consideration request in time, or were not covered under conditions granted under Special Consideration. In such cases, the student must provide evidence that the extraordinary circumstances were beyond their control and arose after the Special Consideration conditions were originally granted.

5.2.8 Where a student complaint or appeal includes allegations concerning the conduct or actions of a staff member, the staff member (the respondent) will be immediately notified of the particulars of the matter. The staff member must be given an adequate opportunity to respond to the allegations.

5.3. Third Level – Appeal to an Academic Appeals Panel 

5.3.1    If dissatisfied with the response that has been received from the Dean of Studies or the Associate Dean of Studies, or the time taken under the Second Level to respond, the student may submit the complaint or appeal in writing to be considered by an Academic Appeals Panel.

5.3.2    The submission must set out, in writing, the grounds for the complaint or appeal and should include supporting material, such as previous correspondence and a description of the actions taken to date to resolve the matter.

5.3.3    The appeal should be lodged with the Director of Operations (unless the Director of Operations is part of the complaint, in which case the President) within 10 working days of receiving the Dean’s or Associate Dean’s decision under Level 2, and explicitly seek the involvement of an Academic Appeals Panel.

5.3.4    The membership of the Academic Appeals Panel will be decided by the Director of Operations or the College President on a case-by-case basis and will consist of:

a) The Director of Operations or College President, and

b) Two academic staff members.

5.3.5    On receipt of a student complaint or appeal, the Academic Appeals Panel considers the complaint or appeal, and may take the following action:

a) Dismiss the complaint or appeal because the academic action involved is appropriate and the student has not presented sufficient argument to justify further consideration of the matter. The student is advised of the outcome with supporting reasons.

b) Refer the student and the complaint or appeal to the appropriate academic staff member because, in the opinion of the Panel, the initial consideration of the matter has not been fully undertaken. If, after this consideration, the student is still dissatisfied, the student can request that the Panel reconsider the matter.

c) Uphold the appeal and recommend change(s) to the academic decision or matter.

d) May hold a hearing with the student and relevant staff members. If meetings, interviews or hearings are held, both the student and the staff member have the right for an advocate to attend if desired. Take such other reasonable action which, in the opinion of the Panel, will assist the resolution of the complaint or appeal.

5.3.6    The outcome of the Panel’s deliberations will be a report setting out the decision, the modifications to the original academic decision or matter where appropriate, and the reasons for the decision. The report is provided to the student and to the Dean of Studies within 20 working days of receiving the complaint. A summary report outlining the number of academic complaints or appeals lodged and outcomes (without providing specific appeal details) will be provided to the Academic Board each semester.

5.4 Fourth Level – External Review

5.4.1    Students who remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeal process to this point, may make a final written appeal to Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA):

Suite 310, Level 3
198 Harbour Esplanade
Docklands VIC 3008
(03) 9642 5212

IHEA is an independent third party, and its decisions are final and binding on all parties.

6. Complaints to External Agencies

6.1       Beyond IHEA, students may make a complaint/appeal regarding any of the College’s policies, procedures, practices, and decisions to one or more of the following government agencies:

a)  TEQSA: https://www.teqsa.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/raising-complaint-or-concern

b)  Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC): https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/report-a-consumer-issue

c)  International Students may contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman: https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/complaints/international-student-complaints

7. Roles and Responsibilities

7.1       The Dean of Studies is responsible for maintaining all records of formal academic grievances. Records of all formal grievances and appeals, applications for review of decisions and outcomes of the process will be kept for a period of five (5) years. These records are strictly confidential. Parties to the complaint or appeal will be allowed supervised access to these records.

7.2       The Dean of Studies is responsible for informing students and staff of this policy and procedures.

8. References

8.1 TEQSA, “Guidance Note: Grievance and Complaint Handling”, Version 1.1 (22 February 2019)