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Grievances, Complaints and Problems During Candidature

The procedures for resolving grievances during your candidature are detailed in the Student Grievance Resolution Process (SGRP).

There are three stages that a grievance may go through within the University before it is resolved — Stage 1: informal discussion; Stage 2: formal review; and Stage 3: appeal.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome at any stage of the University’s grievance resolution process, you may seek external appeal or review of your appeal.  Note that if the University receives notification that a grievance is the subject of formal external enquiry or legal action, the application of Stages 1-3 of the Process will be suspended until the external enquiry or action is completed. In addition, where your grievance has been dealt with under Stage 3, the only avenue for review or appeal if you remain dissatisfied with the outcome is external (Stage 4). No further internal review or appeal is available.

A Stage 4 external review or appeal may be undertaken by:

  • consulting a solicitor with a view to pursuing legal remedies (fees usually involved)
  • seeking assistance from one of the external agencies listed on the Student Grievance Resolution Web Site (free or nominal charges)

The Student Grievance Resolution Process (SGRP) is structured so that grievances and complaints are resolved as quickly as possible, at the local level. The vast majority of student grievances are resolved at the local level at Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the SGRP.

  • Stage 1 - Informal Discussion

    If you have a concern or problem during your candidature, first raise it with the person who made the decision or took the action that resulted in your problem or concern.

    Student Grievances Stage 1

    You can use your supervisors as a source of advice, however, if you feel uncomfortable raising your concern directly with your supervisor(s), you can talk to the postgraduate coordinator or, if you prefer, the head of school.

    Note that if the postgraduate coordinator is also your supervisor, you can contact the head of school directly.

    Similarly, if the head of school is also your supervisor, you may speak to the Deputy head of school or another senior academic staff member of the School whom you find approachable.

  • Stage 2 - Formal Review

    If you remain unhappy with the outcome of your informal discussions, you can request a Stage 2 formal review in accordance with the SGRP Stage 2.

    Student Grievances Stage 2.

    Before proceeding, you may wish to consult with a support person outside your School. Education and Welfare Officers (EWOs) in the Adelaide University Union (AUU) are available to provide independent advice about your options, and may also liaise or advocate on your behalf if there are complications involved in your directly approaching the subject of the grievance or complaint. EWO services are free of charge for students of the University, and contact details for the EWOs are provided in the Contact Details section of the Handbook.

    Once a Stage 2 formal review has been initiated, the relevant authority will formally review your problem or complaint and advise you of their decision. The relevant authority is the Dean of Graduate Studies in the case of grievances against administrative decisions. As described below, there are no Stage 2 formal reviews in the case of academic evaluations of student progress during candidature and examination outcomes.

  • Stage 3 - Appeal

    If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved at Stage 2, or if a Stage 2 review is not required and you have eligible grounds for doing so, you can lodge an application for a Stage 3 Appeal. Appeals must be submitted within the prescribed timeframe of 20 business days, as defined in the SGRP.

    A grievance will usually proceed to a Stage 3 Appeal to the University's Student Grievance and Appeals Committee only if the following conditions have been satisfied:

    • a Stage 2 formal review has been completed or is not required (see Administrative Determinations and Academic Evaluations of Student Progress during Candidature below), and
    • there are reasonable and eligible grounds for appeal, with sufficient supporting evidence for the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee to be able to make a safe determination.

    Once the application has been checked for completeness, the University's Student Grield a hearing tovance and Appeals Committee will ho make a final determination on the matter.

    You are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from the Education and Welfare Officers (EWOs) in the Adelaide University Union (AUU), or other support person, at all stages of the process.

    If there appears to be some common ground between the two parties to an appeal, the SGRP provides for independent mediation or the brokering of a settlement agreement in lieu of a hearing by the Appeals Committee.

  • Stage 4 - External Review of Appeal

    A student with a grievance against the University may seek external appeal or review of their grievance at any stage of the Student Grievance Resolution Process. If the University receives notification that a grievance is the subject of formal external enquiry or legal action, the application of Stages 1-3 of the Process will be suspended until the external enquiry or action is completed. If a student’s grievance has been dealt with under Stage 3, and the student is dissatisfied with the outcome, their only avenue for review or appeal is external. No further internal review or appeal is available.
    More Information

Categories of Grievances and Complaints

Grievances during candidature tend to fall into three main categories:

  • An Administrative Determination

    In the first instance, a grievance concerning an administrative determination (e.g. suspension of candidature because required documentation has not been lodged) should be directed to the Director of the Adelaide Graduate Centre. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may be eligible to lodge a request for a Stage 2 Formal Review by the Dean of Graduate Studies. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the review, and if you have eligible grounds, you can lodge a Student Appeal Application with the office of Student Policy and Appeals. Application forms (including lodgement and contact details) are available online.

  • Academic Evaluations of Student Progress During Candidature

    Academic evaluations of unsatisfactory progress during candidature are made by a Committee at School level. The resulting recommendations for termination of candidature or transfer to a lesser qualification (if applicable), are then considered by the Dean of Graduate Studies or the Student Matters Sub-Committee (SMS) of REDC, to ensure that any personal circumstances relating to the student's performance are taken into account before a final determination is made.

    As a result, the sole recourse within the University for an HDR student who has their candidature terminated or transferred to a program leading to a lesser qualification, is to lodge an application for a Stage 3 Appeal on procedural grounds only. The appeal cannot go to the merits of the decision.

    If you believe there are procedural grounds for overturning or amending the decision made by the Dean of Graduate Studies or the SMS, you may lodge an application for a Stage 3 appeal in accordance with the provisions of the SGRP. Appeals must include evidence to show that:

    • you were not afforded procedural fairness during the process that led to the decision; and/or
    • the decision was not made in compliance with the program rules and/or Handbook procedures; and
    • such non-compliance amounted to a serious defect in the decision.

    Candidates are encouraged to seek advice from an EWO to support them during reviews of unsatisfactory progress and ensuing processes. Students may also contact the Dean of Graduate Studies for advice at any stage.

    For further information on the Student Grievance Resolution Process, please contact Student Policy and Appeals.

  • Examination outcomes

    Outcomes for thesis examinations are based on the advice of independent examiners. Normally two examiners are involved, but where there is a significant divergence of opinion between them (and at least one examiner recommends a negative outcome e.g. 'revise and resubmit' or lower, additional examiners and/or an arbitrator may be appointed to help reach a consensus. In such cases, the final decision is determined by the Student Matters Sub-committee of REDC in accordance with the stablished procedure.

    As a result, the sole recourse within the Univegoorsity for HDR students who are dissatisfied with the outcome of a thesis examination is to lodge an application for a Stage 3 Appeal on procedural grounds only. Appeals cannot go to the merits of the examiners' reports or the final decision of the SMS. Appeals must include evidence to show that:

    • you were not afforded procedural fairness during the process that led to the decision; and/or
    • the decision was not made in compliance with the program rules and/or Handbook procedures; and
    • such non-compliance amounted to a serious defect in the decision.
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