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Policy on Review by the University Visitor

Policy On Review By The University Visitor Of Unresolved Appeals Or Complaints By Students


1. Avenues for handling appeals and complaints

1.1 The University has enacted the Student Appeals Policy and the Student Complaint Management Policy to provide avenues for handling appeals and complaints lodged by students. A student must exhaust all avenues of appeal or complaint under such of those policies as is relevant before seeking to take action under this policy.

1.2 Both the Student Appeals Policy and the Student Complaint Management Policy state that nothing in either of those policies removes the right of a student to access any other complaint mechanism available to him/her as legislated in the relevant State or Territory.

Examples of such complaints, and the external body to which they could be referred, include, among others, those relating to:

  1. unlawful discrimination - which could be referred to the appropriate state or federal equal opportunity commission;
  2. privacy - which could be referred to the Federal Privacy Commissioner;
  3. administrative decisions under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 - which could be referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

2. Lodgement of appeal or complaint with Visitor

2.1 In any case in which a student has exhausted all internal avenues of appeal/complaint and there is no external body with jurisdiction in relation to the matter, the student may lodge with the Visitor an appeal/complaint in relation to a matter which has not been resolved to his/her satisfaction.

2.2 Any such appeal/complaint must be lodged in writing, addressed to:

The Visitor
Australian Catholic University
PO Box 968
North Sydney NSW 2059

2.3 The appeal/complaint must:

  1. be lodged within 40 working days1 of notification of the final decision2 which is the subject of the appeal/complaint;
  2. include a clear statement of the nature and grounds of the appeal/complaint;
  3. be accompanied by all supporting documentation on which the student relied when pursuing the matter under the Student Appeals Policy or the Student Complaint Management Policy.

2.4 No new evidence, or grounds for appeal/complaint founded on such evidence, may be submitted at the stage of appeal to the Visitor, unless:

  1. there has been a major change in circumstance following the lodging of the initial appeal or complaint; and
  2. the associated information or evidence has a significant bearing on the appeal or complaint and was not reasonably available at the time the appeal or complaint was first lodged.

Where such a major change in circumstance has arisen and the Visitor determines that it should be taken into consideration, the matter will normally be referred back to the level of the relevant Executive Dean or Director, for further consideration. If the matter is then resolved to the satisfaction of the student within 20 working days of such referral, the Executive Dean/Director will notify the Visitor who will confirm the conclusion of the matter with the student and report to the Vice-Chancellor accordingly. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student within that timeframe, the Executive Dean/Director will notify the Visitor who will proceed to deal with the case.

3. Review of appeal or complaint by Visitor

3.1 Upon receipt of any appeal/complaint the Visitor will undertake a preliminary assessment to determine:

  1. whether there is any external body with jurisdiction in relation to the subject of the appeal/ complaint; and
  2. whether the appeal/complaint is sufficiently serious to warrant a review by the Visitor.

The Visitor may seek independent advice when making such assessment. Where practicable3, such preliminary assessment will be undertaken within 10 working days of receipt of the appeal/complaint.

3.2 If, following such preliminary assessment, the Visitor considers that the appeal/complaint does not satisfy the criteria in Section 3.1, he/she will notify the student lodging the appeal/complaint that the Visitor is unable to review the matter and may direct the student to any relevant external body.

3.3 If the Visitor considers that the appeal/complaint does satisfy the criteria in Section 3.1, he/she will review the appeal/complaintdocumentation lodged with him/her and will undertake such investigation as he/she deems appropriate, having regard to the principles of natural justice, to ensure that the decision-making process is fair and equitable. Such investigation may, at the discretion of the Visitor, include a request for written submissions and/or interviews with relevant persons, including the student lodging the appeal/complaint. In any such interview in which a student participates, the student may, at his/her discretion, be accompanied by one other person, other than a person with a qualification in law, whom the student designates as his/her support person under this policy. A support person may make submissions on behalf of a student unless the Visitor considers that the making of any submission is or might be disruptive to, or may unreasonably extend, the proceedings. A support person may not be a person who was involved in, associated with, or alleged to have been involved in or associated with the subject matter of the appeal or complaint.

3.4 The Visitor will normally advise the Vice-Chancellor of receipt of an appeal/complaintand provide the Vice-Chancellor with a copy of relevant documentation and the opportunity to respond to the appeal/complaint. If any other party is named in the appeal/complaint, the Visitor will provide that person with relevant details and the opportunity to respond.

3.5 If, at any time during the Visitor's review of the appeal/complaint, the student who lodged the appeal/complaint becomes aware of an external avenue for its resolution, and that external process is initiated by him/her, the Visitor's review of the appeal/complaint may be terminated by the Visitor.

4. Notification of decision

4.1 The Visitor will normally determine the matter within 30 working days of receipt of the appeal/complaint.

4.2 The student will be advised in writing of:

  1. the process undertaken to consider the appeal/complaint;
  2. the decision reached;
  3. the reasons for the decision.

4.3 The Visitor will provide the Vice-Chancellor with a report and/or recommendations regarding the specific appeal/complaint and/or relevant University practices or procedures.

4.4 Where any other person has been named in the appeal/complaint, at the discretion of the Visitor such other person may be advised regarding such elements of the decision as deemed necessary or appropriate in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

4.5 A copy of the notification to the student and the report to the Vice-Chancellor will be held on a confidential file. The Vice-Chancellor may provide a copy of the advice or excerpt therefrom to the relevant Deputy-Vice-Chancellor(s), Executive Dean, Head of School, Course Coordinator, the Academic Registrar, other Director and/or such other officer(s) as may need to take action as a result of the decision.

5. General

5.1 Unless the Vice-Chancellor otherwise directs, a student who has lodged an appeal or complaint with the University Visitor under this policy may continue in his/her program of study until the decision of the Visitor is notified to the student.

5.2 The Visitor is the final avenue of review in respect of such appeals and complaints. However, nothing in this policy removes the right of a student to access any other appeal/complaint mechanism or legal right available to him/her as legislated in the relevant State or Territory.

5.3 No charge or fee applies in respect of lodgement of any appeal/complaint addressed to the Visitor.


1The National Code requires that an international student must lodge any such appeal within 20 working days of notification of the decision.
2 Final decision under the Student Appeals Policy or Student Complaint Management Policy.
3Under the ESOS Act and National Code, in the case of an international student the Visitor must respond to the student within 10 working days and advise that the matter is being investigated.

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