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HDR candidature : Academic and Administrative Complaints Procedures

Parent Policy

Academic and Administrative Complaints and Grievances Policy

Making a complaint

  1. Candidates should attempt to resolve their complaint with the staff member(s) concerned.

    Responsibility

    Candidate
    Head of academic or administrative unit
    Graduate studies co-ordinator or nominee
    Departmental postgraduate research administrator

  2. If a candidate’s complaint is not resolved informally or his/her complaint is one of bias on the part of the staff member(s) concerned, the candidate may choose to direct the complaint to the next appropriate level, eg relevant administrative officer or head of the appropriate academic or administrative  unit (or nominee).

    Responsibility

    Candidate
    Head of academic or administrative unit
    Graduate studies co-ordinator or nominee
    Departmental postgraduate research administrator

Lodging a grievance

  1. If the complaint is not resolved, the candidate may make a written request for resolution of the matter to the faculty/division/section grievance officer. The matter is now considered a grievance.  Candidates may seek assistance from the Student Rights Service or the Monash Postgraduate Association in making a complaint or preparing a written grievance.

    Responsibility

    Candidate
    Faculty/divisional/section grievance officer
    Monash Postgraduate Association
    Student Rights Service

  2. The University Solicitor’s Office is available for any staff member requiring assistance in dealing with a grievance of accusation against him or her.

    Responsibility

    Relevant staff member
    University Solicitor’s Office

  3. A candidate should lodge a grievance:

    •  with the faculty in which he/she is/was  enrolled; or
    • The division, section or organisational unit responsible for the function that has given rise top the grievance.

    Responsibility

    Candidate

Responsibilities of faculties and divisions to appoint a grievance officer

  1. Each faculty, division and major section of the university shall nominate at least one grievance officer to advise candidates and staff of these procedures, receive both academic and administrative grievances, and maintain data on the number and nature of candidate grievances received.

    Responsibility

    Deans
    Divisional directors
    Managers of sections

  2. The dean, director or manager of the relevant faculty, division or unit will determine in advance and publish in the Student Resource Guide or equivalent publication(s) the name of the appointed grievance officer.  In order that there is no conflict of interest or perceived bias, at least one additional assistant grievance officer will be appointed to process cases for which the grievance officer is involved or is unavailable.

    Responsibility

    Deans
    Divisional directors
    Managers of sections

Role of the grievance officer

  1. The grievance officer must receive, record and monitor the number and nature of grievances received from candidates.

    Responsibility

    Grievance officer

  2. The grievance officer must maintain a file of all correspondence and communication in relation to a grievance(see also Reporting).

    Responsibility

    Grievance officer

Processing of the grievance

  1. The grievance officer will assist candidates to determine whether the grievance is academic or administrative in nature, record details of the grievance, acknowledge receipt of the grievance and outline to the candidate the timelines for resolution and any other relevant information, including information  about relevant university support services.

    Responsibility

    Grievance officer

  2. The grievance officer will direct the candidature grievance to the associate dean responsible for research degrees of the appropriate faculty or nominee for an academic grievance, the faculty manager of the appropriate faculty or nominee for a faculty administrative grievance, or to the director or equivalent senior manager or nominee for a non-faculty administrative grievance.  In some cases, the grievance officer may direct the grievance to another appropriate faculty.

    Responsibility

    Grievance officer
    Associate dean responsible for research degrees
    Faculty manager
    Divisional director
    Manager of sections

Investigation and conciliation

  1. The associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee will attempt to resolve the candidate’s  grievance through investigation and conciliation, and will also direct the candidate to appropriate university support services.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  2. The associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee will conduct an investigation normally within 10 working days of receiving the grievance, including consultation with staff relevant to the case, who are encouraged to provide their view of the situation.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  3. The associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee may determine that the grievance in question is frivolous and/or vexatious, or lacking in substance, and decide that no enquiry is necessary.  The complainant must be advised of this decision.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  4. A complaint by a prospective candidate against a selection decision may be dismissed as lacking in substance if the decision is consistent with the published selection criteria, or if the complainant meets the published selection criteria but was declined entry in favour of better qualified applicants.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  5. The associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee to whom the grievance has been directed may call a conciliation meeting with all parties concerned, for the purpose of arriving at an agreed resolution.  The findings of the investigation to date may be presented at this meeting which will normally be held within ten working days of the conclusion of the investigation.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  6. If, due to unforeseen circumstances (eg staff on leave), an investigation or conciliation cannot be concluded within ten working days, the associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee to whom the grievance has been directed will keep the candidate informed of the status of the matter and the reasons for any delay.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  7. If a resolution cannot be reached after two conciliation meetings, the associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee to whom the grievance has been directed will offer the university’s best available solution to the candidate.

    Responsibility

    Associate dean responsible for research degrees

  8. If the student does not accept this offer, the candidate may forward details of the grievance to the chair of the Research Graduate School Committee (RGSC) or nominee within ten working days of the conclusion of the investigation or dismissal of the grievance. 

    Responsibility

    Candidate

Role of the Research Graduate School Committee

  1. Decisions of the Faculty Grievance Committee or of the associate dean responsible for research degrees or nominee may be appealed by the candidate in writing to the chair of the RGSC.  An appeal should be submitted to the manager of the Monash Research Graduate School (MRGS) within ten (10) working days of receipt of the decision of the Faculty Grievance Committee.  An appeal must be in writing and include the grounds for the appeal. It will not be sufficient for a candidate to ask for a re-hearing of the original complaint. The candidate must provide some reasons why he/she considers the committee's decision to be incorrect or unfair.

    Responsibility

    Candidate

  2. The chair of the RGSC shall then investigate the matter, and, subject to the appeal being considered neither frivolous and/or vexatious, will establish a RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel to consider the matter within a reasonable time frame. Every effort must be made to deal with the matter in a timely fashion. The candidate will be notified by registered letter of the decision to convene a RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC
    RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel

  3. Membership of the RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel would include:

    • Chair of the RGSC (or nominee)
    • A senior member of staff, nominated from the candidate’s faculty, not being a person involved in the grievance matter at faculty level, including earlier faculty grievance committee;
    • A departmental representative, but not the supervisor, head or other persons involved in grievance matter at faculty level, including earlier faculty grievance committee
    • A research candidate representative from another faculty; and
    • Additional co-opted members as determined necessary by the chair.

    In determining membership of the panel, the chair of the RGSC should adhere to university policies regarding gender balance and the avoidance of any potential conflict of interest.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC

  4. Following the candidate’s notification of the intention to appeal, and within a reasonable time frame, he or she shall be informed by a registered letter of the following:

    • The manager has received notification of the candidate’s intention to appeal against the recommendation of the Faculty Grievance Committee.
    • The candidate has the right to be heard personally or by way of a written submission, or by both means. Within five (5) working days of the receipt of the registered letter the candidate should advise the manager of MRGS how he or she wishes to be heard. Should the candidate wish to make a written submission, he or she will be advised of a possible structure for the written submission (eg executive summary, detailed chronology, possible solutions).  However, the candidate is not bound by such advice. Whether choosing a written or oral presentation (or both), the candidate will also be advised of appropriate support services available (eg Monash Postgraduate Association, Student Rights Officer, Community Services).
    • The candidate has the right to be accompanied by another non legally qualified person and should notify the RGSC of his/her intention to be so accompanied, and the name of that person. However, if he/she wishes to be accompanied by a legally qualified person, the candidate must seek the permission of the RGSC. Such person shall act as an adviser but not as an advocate for the candidate. This request must be lodged within five (5) working days of the date of the receipt of the registered letter. Should the candidate’s request that he or she be accompanied by a legally qualified person be approved, the RGSC will normally arrange for a legally trained person representing the university, to attend the appeal meeting.
    • The candidate shall be notified of the proposed membership of the RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel and shall be informed of his or her right of veto concerning membership of the committee in no more than two instances. This right of veto must be exercised by the candidate within five (5) working days of the date of the receipt of the registered letter.
    • A copy of the appeal regulations and guidelines will be communicated to the candidate.

    Responsibility

    Manager, MRGS

  5. The candidate will be required to respond within five (5) working days of the receipt of the registered letter.

    Responsibility

    Candidate

  6. Following the candidate’s response to the letter and within five (5) working days, or as soon as possible thereafter, a further letter shall be sent to the candidate. The letter shall contain the following information:

    • The candidate shall be informed of the proposed time and date of the appeal meeting.
    • The candidate shall be informed   whether the request for a legally qualified person to accompany him or her to the RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel has been approved.
    • The candidate will be forwarded a copy of the agenda and agenda papers for the RGSC Grievance Appeal panel meeting at least five (5) working days prior to the meeting. An indication of time limits for presentation by either party or parties shall be included. Should any subsequent documentation be submitted by the candidate or others, this additional material must be forwarded to the candidate and other relevant persons at least two (2) working days prior to the meeting.

    Responsibility

    Manager, MRGS

  7. Concurrently, the person or persons against whom the grievance or complaint has been made, shall be informed that a Grievance Appeal Panel will be convened, and the time and date of the appeal meeting. The person(s) will be invited to attend the  meeting.

    The person(s) against whom the grievance or complaint has been made shall be informed that they may request that a legally qualified or other person accompany them to the RGSC Grievance Appeal Panel. (see Step 4 of this document)

    The person(s) will be forwarded a copy of the agenda and agenda papers for the RGSC Grievance Appeal panel meeting at least five (5) working days prior to the meeting. An indication of time limits for presentation by either party or parties shall be included.

    The person(s) shall be informed that should any subsequent documentation be submitted by the candidate or others, this additional material must be forwarded to the candidate and other relevant persons at least two (2) working days prior to the meeting.

    Responsibility

    Manager, MRGS

  8. The recommendation of the Grievance Appeal Panel by way of a written report shall be communicated to the chair of the RGSC.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC
    Grievance Appeal Panel

  9. The recommendation of the chair of the RGSC arising from the Grievance Appeal Panel investigations will be made to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or nominee for approval.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC
    Grievance Appeal Panel
    Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

  10. The chair of the RGSC shall report this matter to the RGSC.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC

  11. The chair of the RGSC will communicate the decision of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to both parties by registered mail within five (5) working days.

    Responsibility

    Chair of RGSC
    Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

  12. The candidate will be advised of his/her rights to request review of the decision on procedural grounds/irregularities by the University Student Ombudsman.

    Responsibility

    Candidate

Monitoring and reporting

  1. Grievance officers within faculties, divisions and sections must ensure that files are maintained of correspondence and other relevant documents arising from grievances, and that these files can be accessed by the chair of the RGSC or nominee, or other relevant persons.

    Responsibility

    Grievance Officers

  2.  Grievance officers must analyse annually the causes or subject matter of candidate grievances and make a report to Academic Board about the extent to which grievances are received and resolved, the methods of resolution employed and the extent to which compliance with these procedures is being observed.

    Responsibility

    Grievance Officers

  3. Appropriate confidential records of candidate grievances must be retained securely for at least five years after the closure of the matter.

    Responsibility

    University Archives

  4. The University Student Ombudsman will make an annual report to the University Council about the number and nature of appeals received, the outcome of the appeals and any advice for the improvement of the university’s policies, procedures or practices.

    Responsibility

    University Ombudsman

  5. A triennial review of the operation of these procedures will be held, to which all university staff involved with the processing, investigation, monitoring and reporting of grievances will be invited to contribute.

    Responsibility

    RGSC

Order of hearing

  1. Normally, the proceeding first raised should be the first settled, if more than one hearing has been proposed (eg research misconduct, termination, grievance/appeal). Each hearing should be advised that other hearings are proposed.  However, if a candidate is faced with a termination or research misconduct hearing, and subsequently files a complaint of academic grievance, the decision regarding the candidate’s termination or research misconduct should be taken prior to commencement of hearings regarding the alleged academic grievance.

    No two proceedings as identified above might run concurrently.

    The dean of the faculty in consultation with the chair of the Research Graduate School Committee, as appropriate and if required, may determine the order in which hearings should proceed.

    These procedures are designed to prevent a candidate who is scheduled for a termination appeal hearing or a research misconduct hearing from making a complaint of academic grievance in order to delay the former hearing(s).

    Responsibility

    Dean
    Chair of RGSC

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University Policy Use Only:

Version Number: 1.0Effective Date: Contact: adm-PolicyBank@monash.edu