Student Appeals Against Academic Decisions

These Law School guidelines for student appeals against academic decisions must be read in conjunction with the University of Sydney (Student Appeals Against Decisions) Rule 2006. These guidelines do not change the requirements of that Rule, which includes deadlines for appeal submission. The guidelines set out the specific mechanisms for appealing an academic decision made within the Law School.

Note: Personal or medical information should not be included in an appeal

When making an appeal against an academic decision, a student should only submit information relevant to the academic decision. Personal or medical information should not be provided in an appeal unless relevant to the academic decision (i.e. the appeal relates to a special consideration application). For example, if a student suffered personal stress or anxiety or illness or misadventure around the time of assessment, or a low or fail grade will have unfortunate consequences on a student's personal life or employment or future prospects, this is not relevant to an academic decision relating to the marking of the assessment.


Stage 0: Self-reflection and analysis of feedback

If a student is concerned about any academic decision, they should first engage in self-reflection on the matter, and consider:

  1. information provided to them by the Faculty and University in advance of the academic decision
  2. feedback or reasons provided for the academic decision in question. For example, in the case of an assessment mark: generic assessment feedback, individual feedback written on an exam script or returned assignment paper, individual or group feedback from a feedback session. It is a student's responsibility to attend the feedback session or collect their exam script within a reasonable time
  3. whether, in consideration of the facts, the student can identify genuine grounds for contesting the decision, or whether the student is disappointed with a decision which was fair and reasonable.

Stage 1: Appeal to the original decision-maker

If a student continues to be concerned about an academic decision they should appeal to the original decision-maker – usually the lecturer or unit coordinator *. Students are reminded that the appeal process does not give students an automatic right to have a paper reviewed or re-marked. Nor is it a process for negotiating higher marks. Only a student who believes that there are genuine grounds for contesting an Academic Decision should submit an appeal. The appeal should:

  • be in writing (e.g. email)
  • clearly indicate that it is an appeal against an academic decision
  • clearly explain the student's grounds for contesting the academic decision, e.g. identify what the student believes is the error in the decision
  • be submitted within the Appeals Rule deadline (15 working days from being advised of the decision). Where there is a significant delay in releasing exam scripts or feedback there may be grounds for a lecturer to extend this deadline.

Appeals are conducted in writing to avoid confusion about whether students are seeking feedback or making an appeal, to allow students to clearly articulate their concerns, and to ensure there is a clear record of the discussion.

* NOTE: For decisions regarding application for a DC grade, disciplinary matters, personal academic adjustments, show cause decisions, and other 'administrative' decisions, the appeal should be submitted to the Office of the Dean. See Stage 2 below. For decisions about an application for Special Consideration or Special Arrangements appeals are handled by the central University team.

Stage 2: Appeal to the Office of the Dean

If a student’s concerns cannot be resolved in Stage 1, or because of an apparent failure to follow procedure, they may appeal to the Office of the Dean.

The student must put their concerns in writing and submit them to within 20 working days of the outcome of Stage 1.

The appeal should include:

  1. Student ID number, the unit of study the appeal is concerned with and the name of the lecturer
  2. the student's appeal to the original decision-maker (Stage 1);
  3. the decision-maker's response to the Stage 1 appeal; and
  4. reasons why the student is not satisfied with the response to Stage 1.

Students are reminded that only information which is relevant to the academic decision, or relevant to the process of making that decision, should be included in an appeal.

Stage 3: Appeal to the University

If the student is not satisfied that their concerns have been addressed satisfactorily under Stage 2 they may lodge an appeal to the University in accordance with the Appeals Rule. See Academic appeals for further details.