Graduate Academic Appeals
Graduate students registered in the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), may appeal substantive or procedural academic matters, including grades, evaluation of comprehensive examinations and other program requirements; decisions about the student’s continuation in any program; or concerning any other decision with respect to the application of academic regulations and requirements to a student (SGS General Regulations 11.1).
With the exception of appeals related to Termination of Registration and Final Oral Examination failure, appeals are initiated within the student’s home graduate unit first, at the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC).
Academic appeals are heard only from a person currently registered in the School of Graduate Studies or who was registered at the time the ruling or action was taken. Students must file an appeal within eight weeks after the date of the decision being appealed. See the appeals policy in the General Regulations in the SGS Calendar for further information on timing.
The decision resulting from the GDAAC may be appealed to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB). The decision of the GAAB may be appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee of the Governing Council.
Students may not appeal admissions decisions, fees and the voluntary withdrawal from a graduate program.
Initiating an Appeal to the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC)
Students must first attempt to resolve the matter with the instructor or other person whose ruling is in question. Should the matter not be resolved with the instructor, and should the student wish to pursue the matter, the student must discuss the matter with the graduate coordinator or associate chair of the graduate unit. Should such discussions fail to resolve the matter, the student may then make a formal appeal in writing (see Notice of Appeal form below) to the Chair of the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC).
After receiving the Notice of Appeal, the Chair of the GDAAC will provide the person, or persons who made the decision being appealed with a copy of the Notice of Appeal, and request a written response. This response, along with the student Notice of Appeal will be considered by the GDAAC committee.
The GDAAC committee will make a recommendation to the Chair of the Department, who will render a decision. See the GDAAC Guidelines below and the appeals policy in the General Regulations in the
SGS Calendar for further information.
GDAAC: Notice of Appeal
Initiating an Appeal to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB)
The GAAB is delegated from the Graduate Education Council (GEC) and has the mandate to handle and decide upon all academic appeals by students in connection with the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The GAAB is the highest level of appeal within the graduate school.
To initiate an appeal to GAAB, a student must file a Notice of Appeal (see below) with the Secretary of the Board. Once this application for an appeal is approved, it is sent to the graduate unit, SGS representative, or any person concerned for a response which, when received by the Secretary of the Board, is copied to the student appealing (known as the appellant).
When all the evidence from both sides of the dispute is on hand and has been seen by all parties concerned, the Secretary arranges a hearing before the Board.
An SGS representative, or any person adversely commented on in the applicant’s written material (referred to for brevity as an “entitled person”) may submit a written statement to the Board, may attend any hearing, and may be represented by counsel. Appellants are advised to consult the student legal assistance service on campus (Downtown Legal Services) when preparing a statement of appeal since the hearing takes its cue from that statement and the statement is the basis of the case.
All parties may consult the Secretary of the Board as to the procedures of the Board and the preparation of documents for the Board.
Please refer to the GAAB By-Laws below and the appeals policy in the General Regulations in the
SGS Calendar for further information.
GAAB: Notice of Appeal to the GAAB
Notice of Appeal
All students appealing must prepare and submit a Notice of Appeal. The purpose of a Notice of Appeal is to initiate the appeal process and to provide information to an appeal committee or panel to assist in determining a decision or recommendation. Upon submission, the Notice of Appeal will include:
- Completed and signed form, with contact information
- Any supporting documentation to support the appeal (e.g., email correspondence, U of T medical certificate)
- A written submission statement that will summarize:
- the decision being appealed;
- background (relevant facts and allegations);
- nature and grounds of the appeal;
- remedy or resolution sought.
GAAB Hearing Procedures
The purpose of a hearing is to assist the Board in forming an understanding of the circumstances relevant to the application. A hearing is not an adversarial contest between the student and the department, or the student’s supervisor, or thesis appraisers or committee, etc. Each GAAB hearing has a panel Chair. The usual procedure at a hearing is as follows:
- The appellant (or his/her counsel) may make a statement elaborating orally the appellant’s written submissions.
- The appellant may be questioned by any member of the Board or by or on behalf of an entitled person. The applicant may call and examine witnesses in support of the application and any such witness may be questioned by any member of the Board and by or on behalf of an entitled person.
- The Graduate Unit; and/or SGS representative; and/or entitled person (hereafter known as Graduate Unit), (or his/her counsel) may make a statement elaborating orally on the written material submitted or in respect of which s/he appears.
- The Graduate Unit may then be questioned by any member of the Board. The Graduate Unit may call and examine witnesses and any such witness may be questioned by any member of the Board.
- A final statement will be allowed by or on behalf of the appellant.
- The hearing will then conclude and the hearing panel will go into closed session to deliberate.
- The decision of the Board will be communicated in writing to the appellant and the graduate unit.
The GAAB is composed of a Chair and alternate Chair (usually a faculty member from the Faculty of Law), 12 faculty members (3 from each of the four divisions), and 3 graduate student members. In accordance with the GAAB By-Laws, members cannot be registered as students in the same graduate unit.
Each hearing panel is composed of the Chair or alternate Chair, four graduate faculty members (one from each Division) and one graduate student member.
While it is difficult to anticipate the demand, a hearing panel is established and meets approximately four or five times per academic year; each case may take an entire morning or afternoon, or sometimes longer.
At the end of each academic year, the Graduate Education Council student membership appoints three students (not necessarily SGS Council members) willing to serve on GAAB. The duration of the appointment is for one year, and members serve until their successors are appointed. Faculty membership terms are for three years. All members are eligible for re‐appointment. In addition, members are expected to commit themselves to the completion of any cases in progress, even if these extend beyond their term.
The GAAB seeks members who have an open mind to hearing both sides of an appeal case with a view to forming a fair and equitable judgment based on the facts presented.
GAAB Membership 2021-22
Governing Council’s Academic Appeals Committee
A decision of the SGS Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB) may subsequently be appealed by a student to the Governing Council’s Academic Appeals Committee, in accordance with its guidelines and procedures. An appeal to this committee shall be commenced by filing a Notice of Appeal with its Secretary no later than 90 days after the date of the GAAB decision under appeal.
Secretary to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB)