RUL 11.36.02 – Procedure for Addressing Academic Written Student Complaints of Graduate Students

Authority: Chancellor

History:  First Issued: August 8, 2011 as REG11.40.02; last revised November 9, 2019

Related Policies:
NCSU POL04.25.05 – Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy Statement

NCSU POL11.35.01 – Code of Student Conduct
NCSU REG04.25.02 – Resolution Procedures for Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaints
NCSU REG11.00.01 – Family Educational Rights and Privacy (FERPA)
NCSU REG11.35.04 – Written Student Complaints

Contacts: Dean of the Graduate School (919-515-2394)


1. INTRODUCTION

This regulation provides a procedure for addressing Written Student Complaints (as defined in REG 11.35.04) of graduate students relating to final course grades, a student’s overall academic performance or to the quality of the guidance received from the student’s advisor or advisory committee.

2. OTHER REMEDIES

2.1  The existence of this procedure does not bar a student from filing a claim in other forums to the extent permitted by state or federal law.

3.  TIME LIMITS

3.1  Any Written Student Complaint must be filed within 60 calendar days from receipt of the final course grade or from the decision, action or event forming the basis of the Written Student Complaint or within such other applicable deadlines.  Filing occurs when the Written Student Complaint is submitted through the process listed on the Complaint Website. This time limit may be extended by the applicable department head, dean, or vice chancellor for good cause shown, if the complainant makes a request for extension within the 60-day period.

4. PROCEDURE

4.1  Attempt Informal Resolution before Submitting a Written Student Complaint. Before submitting a Written Student Complaint, students must first pursue an informal resolution of the matter as follows:

4.1.1  With Regard to Final Course Grades: students must first pursue informal resolution of final course grades by discussing the matter with the instructor who issued the grade to the student.  If informal resolution is not satisfactory, the student may proceed in accordance with section 4.2 below.

4.1.2  With Regard to Academic Performance or Guidance: students should first consult with the chair of their advisory committee.  If satisfactory resolution is not attained, the student must consult with the director of graduate programs (DGP) for their program.  The DGP should investigate the matter and may, as appropriate, consult with the department head, the Graduate School, the advisor, and advisory committee. If the program is interdepartmental, consultation with more than one department head may be appropriate.  If the DGP is the advisor, the informal process may proceed to the department head with supervisory authority over the DGP.  If informal resolution is not satisfactory, students may proceed in accordance with sections 4.2 and 4.3 below.

4.2  Submit a Written Student Complaint. If the issue is not resolved by the informal resolution process described in this regulation, students may submit a Written Student Complaint by completing an online Written Student Complaint Form confirming the complainant’s status as an NC State student, providing a summary of the complaint, the involved NC State employee(s), unit(s) or division(s), what resolution procedures were pursued prior to filing the Written Student Complaint, and the complainant’s preferred resolution.

4.3  Participate in formal resolution proceedings. Once a Written Student Complaint Form is completed by the student, the claim will be investigated and resolved using one of the following formal resolution processes:

4.3.1   Written Student Complaints Regarding Final Course Grades.

4.3.1.1 These procedures apply to Written Student Complaints relating to final course grades only. Test grades or partial grades cannot be the basis of a Written Student Complaint.

4.3.1.2  In no event shall persons who review a Written Student Complaint concerning grades substitute their subjective judgment for the judgment of the instructor. However, Written Student Complaints may be substantiated if it is determined on the basis of the evidence that the grade was based on a factor other than academic merit or if there has been a clear error in grading based on objective criteria, and the determination is consistent with the Grades and Grade Point Average Regulation (REG 02.50.03).

4.3.1.3  Written Student Complaints related to final course grades will initially be routed to and reviewed by the department head (or designee) of the instructor for the course at issue. The department head shall inform the instructor of the student’s written student complaint, and allow the instructor to file a written response to the complaint within 5 business days of the instructor’s receipt of notice. The department head will review the matter and issue a written decision to the student and instructor within 10 business days of receipt of the instructor’s response.

4.3.1.4  If the student remains unsatisfied, the student may request that the dean of the college with supervisory authority over the department head review the decision. The dean shall inform the instructor and department head of the student’s request for review.  Within 30 days, the dean (or designee) shall prepare a written decision and send it to the student, instructor, and department head.

4.3.1.5  Should the student remain unsatisfied with the results of the formal resolution process, the student may appeal the decision to the Dean of the Graduate School.

4.3.1.5(a)  The complaining student may appeal the decision by delivering written notice of appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee), with a copy to the university administrator whose decision is being appealed, within 10 business days after receipt of the decision.  Unless an extension of time has been granted in writing by the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) prior to the 10-day deadline, appeals received more than 10 days after the decision was received (or delivery of the decision was attempted) will be dismissed.

4.3.1.5(b)  The written notice of appeal must:

  • Identify the person whose decision is being appealed;
  • Provide a brief statement of the grounds for appeal, which at minimum should contain a list of alleged errors in the decision or decision-making process;
  • Indicate what remedy is requested; and
  • Be signed and dated by the person filing the appeal.

4.3.1.5(c)  Grounds for an appeal are limited to showing that the decision was clearly erroneous, and that the alleged errors violated applicable university policies, regulations or rules, or federal, state or local law.  The appeal should specifically outline which law(s), university policies, regulations or rules were violated for each alleged error and how they were violated.

4.3.1.5(d)  The Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) may convene an advisory panel to review the appeal and provide recommendations for a decision on the matter.  Composition and tasking of the panel will be at the Dean’s discretion, but shall be comprised of the Dean, two graduate students, an associate dean, and two faculty members from the Administrative Board of the Graduate School.

4.3.1.5(e)  The Dean of the Graduate School may ask the parties to submit written statements of their respective positions on appeal.  There is no right to a hearing or oral presentation.  The person reviewing the appeal will render a written decision within 45 days, to be sent to the parties, based on review of the record of the case, the relevant laws, policies, regulations or rules, the recommendation of the panel (if any), and any written statements submitted by the parties.  The Dean of the Graduate School’s decision shall be final and no further appeal is permitted.

4.3.2  Written Student Complaints Regarding Academic Performance or Guidance.

4.3.2.1 Written Student Complaints involving overall academic performance or the quality of the guidance received from the student’s advisor or advisory committee will be routed to the department head with supervisory authority over the program or such other appropriate administrator. The department head (or other appropriate administrator) shall investigate the matter and issue a written decision to the student with a copy to the advisory committee and dean of the college with supervisory authority over the department head within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. If the student is in an interdepartmental or multidisciplinary program where no single department head has authority over the program, the initial written complaint should be submitted to the Dean (or designee) of the Graduate School, who will work with the DGP of the program and the associate dean(s) of the college(s) with supervisory responsibility for the program to produce a written response to the student.

4.3.2.2  If the student remains unsatisfied, he or she may request that the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) review the decision.  The Dean (or designee) shall work with the DGP, the department head, and the appropriate college associate dean with supervisory responsibility for the program, in an attempt to resolve the matter.  Within 30 days, the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) will respond to the student. The Dean of the Graduate School’s decision shall be final and no further appeal is permitted.

5. MODIFICATION

The Dean of the Graduate School (or designee) may approve modification of the foregoing procedures in a particular case if the modification (a) is for good cause, and (b) does not violate due process rights, policies of the NC State Board of Trustees, or policies and rules of the University of North Carolina System.