Academic Affairs Appeals Process

Purpose of the Bouve College Academic Affairs Committee

  • Northeastern University affirms that it is essential to provide an appeals mechanism to students who believe that they have been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated.
  • The college Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) acts on matters relating to the academic and professional standing of all Bouvé students in the college who have already appeared before the unit’s Academic Standing Committee (ASC) and school dean/representative.
  • Issues pertaining to academic and co-op status and professional behaviors violations, including but not limited to warning, probation, permission to resume studies, changes in requirements, and repeating courses, fall within the jurisdiction of the AAC. The AAC also considers student appeals relative to academic or cooperative education judgments by faculty, coordinators, or others acting on behalf of the university, when such appeals arise from a violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of the academic provisions outlined in the University Catalog, Cooperative Education Handbook, or student handbooks.
  • The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion handles appeals arising from allegations of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, age, religion, national origin, handicap, or marital status. The Office for Gender Equity and Compliance handles issues related to Title IX. If other allegations remain at the conclusion of those inquiries then the student may refer them to the dean for review by the AAC of the college.

Student Appeals Procedures

It is the policy of the university that all students shall be treated fairly with respect to evaluations made of their academic performance, standing, and progress. The university presumes that academic judgments by its faculty are fair, consistent, and objective. Students must understand that the substitution of a different academic judgment for that of the original evaluator is a serious intrusion upon teaching prerogatives. Nonetheless, the university believes it is essential to provide an appeals mechanism to students who believe that they were erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated in an academic or cooperative education determination. This includes claims of misinterpretation or inequitable application of any academic provision of the student handbook or faculty handbook. Issues concerning admission or readmission into a program by a graduate student cannot be appealed beyond the college level. Before invoking the appeals procedures, students are always encouraged to speak informally to their instructors or academic advisors about any determination or grade about which they have questions. If students choose to pursue an appeal, the process is described in the appeals section that follows.

Scientific or Research Misconduct

Scientific or research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the academic and scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research and does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretation or judgments of data. (Further information can be obtained from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, Department of Health and Human Services.) Possible incidences of misconduct are to be reported immediately to the Office Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, who will initiate the appropriate procedures. Findings of scientific or research misconduct cannot be appealed through the process below.

Levels of the Appeal Process

  • Prior to submittinsg an appeal to the college AAC, the student must attempt to resolve the problem with the faculty member, coordinator, or other individual acting on behalf of the university, according to procedures outlined in the university catalogs and/or Student handbooks.
  • Unit Level: Students who feel they have been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated with the informal communication and decision in the previous step may proceed with an appeal through their unit’s Academic Affairs Committee (AAC). Students must follow the process in accordance with unit policies and procedures. If the timeline is not defined, a student shall submit a request for an appeal within 20 business days. The unit’s AAC must provide the student with a written report of the finding(s) and decision within 10 business days.
  • School Level: If the student believes he or she has been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated with the committee’s decision, he or she may pursue a secondary appeal to the school dean. In schools where a dean is not in place, the department chair or equivalent will serve in this role. The student must request, in writing, within 10 business days an appeal hearing. The school dean, or representative, shall provide the student or involved faculty member with a written report of his or her finding(s) and decision within 10 business days.
  • College Level: The college AAC hears cases that have been unsatisfactorily resolved at the prior school and unit levels and that have met the requirements of appeals set forth by the university, which refers to an appeal mechanism for “students who believe that they have been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated.” The student must request in writing within 10 business days a request for an appeal hearing.
  • University Level:  If the student believes he or she has been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated with the college dean’s disposition of the matter, he or she may pursue the matter further, if applicable, in accordance with university’s student catalogs and/or student handbooks.

College-Level AAC Appeal Process

Initiation of Action

  • Students wishing to bring an appeal before the college AAC must first consult with their appointed academic advisor, or when the appeal involves the academic advisor, a member of the Bouvé graduate office or the Office of Student Services (OSS); from here on called the appeal advisor. The student must submit all appropriate documents to their appeal advisor, including a Bouvé College of Health Sciences General Petition form, all previous appeal decisions, and academic transcripts. The appeal advisor will notify the chair of the college AAC that a student has submitted an appeal for review. The appeal advisor will inform the student of the time and place of the college’s AAC meeting.
  • The chair of the college AAC will ensure a panel is convened to hear the appeal within 10 business days.
    • The Academic Affairs Committee Appeals Panel (the College Appeal Panel) includes three voting members of the AAC that appropriately represent the breadth and depth of programs within the college. At minimum, two schools will be represented on the panel and at least one member teaches within a similar degree-level program. Members of the panel shall have no known conflicts of interest with the student.
    • The chair for the College Appeal Panel shall be selected from among the panel members.

Review of Appeals

  • The appeal advisor will submit copies of the student's appeal to the chair of the College Appeal Panel prior to the meeting. Documents will be circulated to the panel members.
  • The chair of the department or unit’s ASC for the student presenting the appeal shall be invited by the chair of the College Appeal Panel to attend the meeting. If the chair is unable to attend, a representative of the department or unit ASC may attend in his or her place.
  • The student’s appeal advisor shall be invited by the chair of the College Appeal Panel to attend the meeting.
  • The student is required to appear before the College Appeal Panel to present or discuss his or her appeal in person but may forfeit this right in writing. Student advocates, as defined by the university, are not permitted to attend a student’s appeal meeting. 
  • Deliberation of the appeal will be made by the College Appeal Panel during the scheduled meeting, assuming that all relevant and appropriate information has been made available to the panel by the parties involved. If more information is needed, the decision may be postponed until a future meeting.
  • The chair of the College Appeal Panel will notify the college dean of the findings and recommended decision. The college dean will have the final decision.
  • The college dean will notify the student and other relevant parties of the decision in writing no later than 10 business days after the decision.
  • If the student believes he or she has been erroneously, capriciously, or otherwise unfairly treated with the college dean’s disposition of the matter, he or she may pursue the matter further, if applicable, in accordance with the university’s student catalogs and/or student handbooks.