Complaints and Grievance Procedures - Academic Matters

Status


Approved

To outline procedures to be followed in regard to grievances of an academic nature.

Public
visibility
Approved on: 28 Nov 2012
Amended on: 30 Jun 2017
Review cycle: 3 Years
Owned by

Academic Board

Approved by

College Board

Category: 
Policy Contact: 
Secretary, Academic Board
Definitions: 

academic in charge - the lecturer who has primary responsibility for teaching the classes for a particular unit of study.

academic matter - any matter relating to student progress, assessment, and curriculum and awards in a course of study.

Registrar - the person usually occupying that position, or in his/her absence, the person nominated by the Dean of Academic Administration to fulfill that role.

course advisor - the academic staff member nominated to advise students about a particular course of study, (e.g. Bachelor of Theology) and provide appropriate pastoral support.

Dean of Academic Administration - the person usually occupying that position or, in his/her absence, the person nominated by the Principal to fulfill that role.

Grading Appeals Committee - three members of the Academic Board not already involved in the matter under review.

review officer - the Dean of Academic Administration unless the grievance relates to a decision made by the Dean of Academic Administration in which case the Review Officer will be the Principal (or delegate).

victimise - to act or omit to act towards a person in a way which is intended to cause disadvantage to that person because they have made a complaint, or may make a complaint, or may be or are subject of a complaint.

Background: 

Grievances Polices for Non-Academic and Academic matters are required for all Higher Education Providers. Reference: Provider Registration Standard 6.4 Reference: Higher Education Support Act (HESA) Section 19-45 Reference: Higher Education Provider Guidelines Section 4.5

Purpose: 

To outline procedures to be followed in regard to grievances of an academic nature.

Statement: 

1. Introduction

The College encourages open discussion between students and academic staff, especially in matters of assessment and marking. It aims to affirm both adult learning values, such as self-directedness and creativity, as well as personal values, such as mutual accountability. However, the College recognises that at times a matter related to assessment will not easily be resolved between student and teacher or assessor, requiring further measures to be taken.

1.1. The procedures set out in this document do not replace or modify procedures or any other responsibilities which may arise under other higher education provider policies or under statute or any other law.

1.2. There shall be no cost levied to the student with respect to the lodgement of an initial notice of grievance or a request for an internal review (Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the process) or a request for an external review conducted by COPHE (Stage 3 of the process).

1.3. Students who complain or lodge a grievance, and the respondent(s) to a complaint or grievance shall not be victimised or discriminated against, irrespective of the nature or severity of the grievance.

1.4. Students who complain or lodge a grievance, and respondents shall have the right to be accompanied and assisted by a third party such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person if they so wish.

2. Lodgement Guidelines

The following lodgement guidelines apply:-

2.1. Formal Notice of Grievance

A formal notice of grievance shall be posted to the Registrar, Eastern College Australia, 44-60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave Victoria 3170 or lodged in person with the Receptionist, Eastern College Australia at the same address.

2.2. Formal Review of an Investigation

A formal review of an investigation shall be posted to Review Officer, For Attention: Dean of Academic Administration, Eastern College Australia, 44-60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave Victoria 3170 or lodged in person with the Receptionist at the same address.

2.3. Request for an External Review of a Decision

A request for an external review of a decision shall be forwarded to The Chief Executive Officer, Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE), Suite 59b, Level 5, 47 Neridah Street, Chatswood, NSW 2067.

3. Grievance Procedure Stages

Students have access to a three (3) stage complaints and grievance process which relates to academic matters.
Stage 1 Initial lodgement and investigation (dispute notification)
Stage 2 Internal review of decision(s)
Stage 3 External review of decision(s)

4. Disputes Relating to Assessment Tasks

Where a dispute relates to the conduct of an assessment task within a unit of study, the matter should be raised verbally in the first instance with the Academic in Charge or marker. If the issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the student immediately, he/she is required to lodge a formal notice of grievance, in writing, addressed to the Registrar. The basis for the dispute should be clearly stated.
The Registrar will determine whether the grievance involves (a) the conduct of an assessment task, (b) the grading of an assessment task or (c) a curriculum or student progress issue. Each issue will be dealt with according to the process indicated below.

4.1. Stage 1: Dispute Notification

Where the matter refers to the conduct of the assessment task, the Registrar will ask the Unit Coordinator, Academic in Charge or marker to provide details of the conditions and conduct of the task. The process of investigation will generally be conducted within twenty eight (28) days. If after examination, the College protocols are determined to have been correctly followed, the Registrar and Head of School will advise the student that:-

  • there is no matter to be resolved; and
  • a review process is available.

If, after examination, the College protocols are determined to have not been correctly followed, the Registrar, in consultation with the Dean of Academic Administration, will decide on a course of action. Such course of action may include:

  • allowing the student to attempt the assessment task again;
  • requesting that the task be reassessed (by another marker – see below); or
  • removing the task from that student’s requirements, provided that the relevant competencies or outcomes can otherwise be demonstrated.

The  Registrar will, within the same twenty eight (28) day period, write a formal letter to the student advising:-

  • the outcome of the investigation;
  • a recommendation to resolve the grievance; and
  • the internal review process available.

Respondents will also be provided with an explanation of the actions taken, the reasons(s) and the decision taken, in writing, if it is requested.

4.2. Stage 2: Internal Review Process

If, after a formal investigation by the Registrar a student desires a further review, a formal review of the investigation and recommendation to resolve the grievance may be requested by the student, using the form located at https://www.eastern.edu.au/students/forms/request-review, within twenty eight (28) days of the receipt of the formal recommendation.
A student may also request an internal review if he/she is concerned about the time taken to complete the stage one process. Upon receipt of a request for an internal investigation of a complaint which remains unresolved, the Dean of Academic Administration shall acknowledge in writing, receipt of the request for an internal investigation and inform the student of the following information:-

  • who will be responsible for conducting the investigation;
  • that he/she has the right to a personal meeting to present his/her case (verbally and/or in writing) and the name, address and telephone number of the person to contact if a personal meeting is required;
  • that he/she has the right to submit addition information in writing, should a personal meeting not be desired; and the name and address of the person to whom the additional information should be submitted;
  • that he/she has the right to be accompanied and/or assisted by a third party such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person if he/she so wishes; and
  • the timeframe during which the internal investigation will be conducted, generally within twenty eight (28) days of receiving the request for an investigation.

The Dean of Academic Administration may conduct the review personally, or request the Academic Board or a delegate appointed by the Academic Board to conduct the review. When the Review Officer or the Academic Board or a delegate appointed by the Academic Board makes a decision, a formal letter will be sent to the student advising: -

  • the outcome of the investigations;
  • a recommendation to resolve the grievance; and
  • the external review process available.

Respondents will also be provided with an explanation of the actions taken, the reasons(s) and the decision taken, in writing, if it is requested.

The Dean of Academic Administration or Academic Board or a delegate appointed by the Academic Board may confirm the decision of the Registrar, vary the decision, or set aside the decision and substitute a new recommendation.

4.3. Stage 3: External Review Process

If the Dean of Academic Administration or Academic Board or a delegate appointed by the Academic Board advises that the original decision has been upheld, varied, or set aside in favour of a new decision, the student must be advised that he/she has the right to request a further external review and the procedure to be adopted. Details of the appeal authority are provided at the end of this document.

5. Disputes Relating to the Grading of an Assessment Task

5.1. Stage 1: Dispute Notification

Where the matter refers to the grading of an assessment task, the student shall be required to contact the marker within 14 days of the receipt of the original graded mark, to discuss the marking of the task, the reasons why the marker awarded the grade given, and/or to request reconsideration of the grade given. If the marker agrees to reconsider the grade given, a decision must be provided to the student, within seven (7) days of the discussions with the student. If, after consultation with the marker, the student is still concerned about the original grade awarded, or the grade awarded after reconsideration by the original marker, a formal internal review of the marking may be requested.

5.2. Stage 2: Internal Review Process

Where the matter refers to the grading of the assessment task, and the student wishes to dispute the original grade awarded to an assessment task (or the grade awarded after reconsideration by the original marker), a formal review of the marking may be requested by the student, using the form located at http://www.eastern.edu.au/students/forms/request-remark, within twenty eight (28) days of the receipt of the original graded mark.
A student may also request an internal review if he/she is concerned about the time taken to complete the stage one process. 
Upon receipt of a request for an internal review, the Review Officer (or delegate) will determine, in consultation with the Head of School, who should be asked to reassess the task (the second marker). The process of investigation will generally be conducted within twenty eight (28) days. The Review Officer (or delegate) will provide the nominated second marker with the unmarked copy of the task, and advise the second marker that no consultation should occur on this matter with the original marker. The re-graded mark becomes the recorded grade. When the re-graded mark becomes available, the Review Officer (or delegate) will write a formal letter to the student advising:-

  • the outcome of the investigation;
  • the re-graded mark;
  • any recommendations which may assist in resolving the grievance; and
  • the external review process available.

Respondents will also be provided with an explanation of the actions taken, the reasons(s) and the decision taken, in writing, if it is requested.
The second marker may confirm the decision of the original marker, vary the decision, or set aside the decision and substitute a new recommendation.

5.3. Stage 3: External Review Process

If the second marker advises that the original decision has been upheld, varied, or set aside in favour of a new decision, the student shall be advised that a further external review may be requested and the procedure to be adopted. Details of the appeal authority are provided at the end of this document.

6. Disputes Relating to Curriculum and/or Student Progress

6.1. Stage 1: Dispute Notification

Where the matter relates to a curriculum and/or student progress issue, the matter should be raised verbally in the first instance with the Course Advisor.
If the issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the student immediately, he/she is required to lodge a formal notice of grievance in writing, addressed to the Registrar. The basis for the dispute should be clearly stated. The Registrar will immediately refer the matter to the Dean of Academic Administration for investigation and a decision. The process of investigation will generally be conducted within twenty eight (28) days.
When the Dean of Academic Administration makes a decision, a formal letter will be sent to the student advising:-

  • the outcome of the investigations;
  • a recommendation to resolve the grievance; and
  • the external review process available.

Respondents will also be provided with an explanation of the actions taken, the reasons(s) and the decision taken, in writing, if it is requested.

6.2. Stage 2: Internal Review Process

If, after a formal investigation by the Dean of Academic Administration a student desires a further review, a formal review of the investigation and recommendation to resolve the grievance may be requested by the student, by using the webform https://www.eastern.edu.au/students/forms/request-review, within twenty eight days of the receipt of the formal recommendation. A student may also request an internal review if he/she is concerned about the time taken to complete the stage one process. Upon receipt of a request for an internal investigation of a complaint which remains unresolved, the Registrar shall acknowledge in writing, receipt of the request for an internal investigation and inform the student of the following information:-

  • who will be responsible for conducting the investigation (the Academic Board;
  • that he/she has the right to a personal meeting to present his/her case (verbally and/or in writing) and the name, address and telephone number of the person to contact if a personal meeting is required;
  • that he/she has the right to submit addition information in writing, should a personal meeting not be desired; and the name and address of the person to whom the additional information should be submitted;
  • that he/she has the right to be accompanied and/or assisted by a third party such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person if he/she so wishes; and
  • the timeframe during which the internal investigation will be conducted, generally within twenty eight (28) days of receiving the request for an investigation.

The respondent(s) to a complaint or grievance shall also have the right to be accompanied and assisted by a third party such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person in the grievance investigation and resolution process.
The Registrar will refer the matter to the Academic Board of the College (excluding any person directly involved in the matter under review) for investigation and a decision. When the Academic Board of the College makes a decision, a formal letter will be sent to the student advising:-

  • the outcome of the investigations;
  • a recommendation to resolve the grievance; and
  • the external review process available.

Respondents will also be provided with an explanation of the actions taken, the reasons(s) and the decision taken, in writing, if it is requested.
The Academic Board of the College may confirm the decision of the Dean of Academic Administration, vary the decision, or set aside the decision and substitute a new recommendation.

6.3. Stage 3: External Review Process

6.3.1. Domestic Students

In all cases of disputes relating to academic matters, a student (but not an overseas student) may request further assistance from COPHE after the internal review process has been conducted. COPHE may be contacted at the following address:

The Chief Executive Officer: Council of Private Higher Education, Suite 59b, Level 547 Neridah Street
Chatswood, NSW, 2067
Ph: (02) 80210841 Fax: (02) 8021 0843
Email: amccomb@cophe.edu.au
www.cophe.edu.au

COPHE should be contacted formally, in writing, and the following information should be provided:

  • The date of the complaint;
  • The student’s name, address and daytime telephone number;
  • A description of the incident or concern;
  • Relevant dates, places and times;
  • Relevant details of any telephone conversations and meetings;
  • Any explanations the student considers are important;
  • Copies of relevant documents; and
  • The result the student is seeking.

A request for an external review must also contain the following sentence:-

Please forward a copy of the review result and/or recommendations to the Dean of Academic Administration, Eastern College Australia. at Unit 9, 44-60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave Victoria 3170 within twenty eight (28) days of the completion of the review.

Further Contact details for COPHE: Ph: (02) 80210841 Fax: (02) 8021 0843
Email: amccomb@cophe.edu.au
www.cophe.edu.au

6.3.2. Overseas Students

The College is not presently involved in overseas student education. However, in the event that the College becomes involved in overseas student education, the following external review policies and procedures will apply.

6.3.2.1. Overseas students’ external appeals authority

In all cases of disputes relating to academic matters, an overseas student may request further assistance from the Overseas Students Ombudsman. An overseas student may make a complaint using an online complaint form which is available at http://www.oso.gov.au/making-a-complaint/ or by telephone. In Australia, during Australian business hours, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday an overseas student may call 1300 362 072. Calls from mobile phones are charged at mobile phone rates. If the call is made from outside Australia, the student may call +61 2 6276 0111.

6.3.2.2. Using an interpreter

If an overseas student wants to make a complaint in their language the student can call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) in Australia on 131 450. If the call is made from outside Australia, the student may call +61 3 9203 4027. The office of the Overseas Students Ombudsman will pay for the interpreter.

6.3.2.3. For students who are deaf, or hearing or sight impaired

The overseas student can contact the office of the Overseas Students Ombudsman via the National Relay Service. Teletypewriter (TTY) users should phone 133 677 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Speak and Listen users should phone 1300 555 727 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Internet Relay users may connect to the National Relay Service www.iprelay.com.au and then ask for 1300 362 072.

6.3.2.4. Fax

Overseas students can send a fax to the Overseas Students Ombudsman. In Australia, overseas students should fax 02 6276 0123. From outside Australia, overseas students should fax +61 2 6276 0123.

6.3.2.5. Mail

Overseas students can write a letter and post it to the following address: Overseas Students Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
Canberra ACT 2601

7. Implementation of Recommendations Arising from External Review

If COPHE makes recommendations in relation to a grievance that has been reviewed, the Dean of Academic Administration will ensure that the recommendations are addressed within twenty eight (28) days.

8. Publication of Grievance Procedures

8.1. Students and Intending Students

In order to adequately inform students and intending students, the College’s Complaints and Grievance Procedures are published on the College website (http://www.eastern.edu.au). The website is reviewed and updated annually, for the commencement of each academic year.

9. Training with Respect to Grievance Procedures

9.1. New Academic or Staff Appointments

All new appointments to the academic and administration staff of the College shall be formally inducted into all relevant aspects of College life. The College’s complaints and grievance procedures and policies shall be included as an induction item in the process for inducting new academic staff and administration staff members. New appointees will be instructed in their operation and will be directed to the College website where a full copy of the procedure is maintained.

9.2. Teaching Staff

In order to adequately inform the academic staff of the College, the College’s Grievance procedures shall be included in the College 'Academic Staff Handbook'. This handbook is published on the College website (http://www.eastern.edu.au) and will be reviewed and updated annually for the commencement of each academic year. Teaching staff shall also be required to attend a professional development day at the commencement of each semester to ensure that all academic procedural and policy matters are fully understood. Policy and procedural matters shall also be included as agenda items at appropriate meetings convened by the College and conducted regularly during the semesters.

9.3. Administration staff

Administration staff shall be required to attend an administration briefing seminar at the commencement of each semester at which aspects of the College’s administration procedures and policies shall be discussed. The interface between academic and administration procedures and policies shall also be discussed and particular instruction shall be given with respect to the requirements of the College’s grievance procedures. Action shall be taken to ensure that each staff member has access to a copy of the grievance procedures and understands them.

10. Access to Grievance Procedures

The College offers units in several locations. Students attending classes, undertaking subjects externally or intending students have a right to access the complaints and grievance procedures for academic and non-academic matters without disadvantage, regardless of the location of study at which the grievance has arisen, the student’s place of residence or the mode in which they study. The College acknowledges it has an obligation to ensure such students are not disadvantaged by the procedures required in the grievance investigation and resolution process. Therefore, students or intending students may request any, or all, of the following additional services:-

  • provision of a complete copy of the grievance procedures, posted by regular mail services or emailed to them, if they are not already in possession of a copy and the WEB address at which the procedures are published;
  • reply paid envelope(s) to minimise the cost of lodging notices of grievance, requests for a formal review of an investigation or the submission of information to be considered in the context of the review;
  • a personal meeting arranged at the Mulgrave or at another mutually agreed location; or
  • telephone calls or conference arrangements initiated by the College to facilitate information gathering, in lieu of a personal attendance at a meeting.
  • a third party such as a family member, friend, counsellor or other professional support person to accompany and/or assist the student if he/she so wishes.

11. Records of Grievances - Keeping and Access

Records of grievances will be treated as confidential. Therefore:-

(1) Records of grievances under investigation shall be compiled in individual, specially endorsed “Confidential Folders”, held in the custody of the Registrar and accessed by him/her only, or issued to the Internal or External Review Officer(s) as required for the purpose of conducting the internal or external review investigation. (2) Records of grievances notified in writing, investigated and finalised will be placed in a sealed envelope, endorsed “CONFIDENTIAL” and “TO BE OPENED BY REGISTRAR ONLY”. Such sealed records shall be kept for at least five years.

Students who wish to access any records relating to personal grievances are required to notify the Registrar and arrange an appointment to view them. Students will be provided with access to any records relating to personal grievances, but the following limitations would apply:-

  • students’ access to their records would be supervised, that is, the Registrar or his/her delegate would generally be present while the record is being viewed;
  • students may request, and be supplied with, photocopies of any documents in their personal grievance records;
  • students would not be permitted to remove any documents from their personal grievance records; however,
  • students may request that incorrect or out of date information in their personal grievance records be removed or updated. The Registrar shall be responsible for taking this action;
  • students who are in dispute with the Registrar over a request to remove or update a personal grievance record shall have the right to request an internal review, and shall also have the right to request an external review, if desired.