How to Appeal a Grade

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Picture courtesy of http://www.photos-public-domain.com
Picture courtesy of http://www.photos-public-domain.com

As the second semester of the 2015/16 academic year reaches its halfway point, students may be wondering how to appeal a grade, or even multiple grades.

An appeal is making a statement for your case as to why their failed and/or failing marks should be removed from your transcript, and then going through the following process to have your appeal accepted or declined and the grade(s) wiped from your transcript.

“Students can be quite capable, quite good students, but when something unfortunate happens in their lives the appeal process is there to help them,” says Kevin Bonner, director of student services.

In certain circumstances (medical, family, or a plethora of other issues), grades can be negatively affected. Low marks can bring down your semester and overall GPA, which can either put a student in poor academic standing, affect graduation, or inhibit acceptance to programs following an undergraduate degree.

Bonner outlined the appeals process and what it entails, and although the appeals process is outlined in the academic calendar he encouraged students to visit him to talk about possible and ongoing appeals.

When looking at a student’s appeal, what is referred to as an “appeal of standing”, it is examined and based on two grounds: medical and/or compassionate.

Bonner stated that “From that [information], we would try to figure out for the student what courses, or course, or series of courses, that they wish to appeal, then look at the grounds and try to build the case, the rationale, on those grounds”.

Expanding on this, documentation to support those grounds is often necessary to begin the appeal process.
“Doctor’s notes or health professional’s notes. Compassionate grounds, again, there can be some documentation. Compassionate grounds is a little wider in terms of definition and can be pretty wide-ranging set of reasons why someone may be under duress,” says Bonner.

According to Bonner, “once the student has the rationale, documentation, and understands exactly what they’re requesting, the letter and the appeal itself (which the letter represents) is then sent to the senate appeals committee”.

The senate appeals committee is a sub-committee of the university senate, the governing body of the academic side of UNB which sets the rules and regulations for programs, academics, and the conditions for each degree program.

“The appeals process is approved by Senate, and the Senate committee is made up of representatives of Senate who have been chosen to sit on this committee to review all of the documentation and letters of appeal that have come in for the student. That committee will then make what is called ‘final determination’ as to whether the appeal will stand or not”.

The Senate appeals committee is not told the student’s name or other identifying information, only the information that is necessary to accept or decline the appeal. However, students have the option of attending the appeal meeting, and they can speak to the committee, to back up their letters or answer any questions the committee may have.

The amount of time it takes for the process varies and sometimes can take up to four months.

“in my experience, (the delay) can be just in collecting the information: writing the letter, getting the documentation, especially when seeing doctors, those can be time consuming,” says Bonner.

In the cases of graduating students Bonner says that there is help. “If it has any impact on a student’s ability to [graduate, come back to school, start their term], it can be expedited, and expedited quite quickly”.

An important thing that Bonner wanted to note was that
If a student notices they are struggling before the end of the term, they can also speak with their professors or with the dean or head of their faculty before starting the formal appeals process as there are often arrangements that can be made during the semester.

For any appeals-related questions, Kevin Bonner can be reached at kbonner@unb.ca or in Oland Hall 106. If having trouble finding faculty members, they can be searched on the UNB Online Phonebook, which can be found at https://phonebook.unb.ca/.