Academic Rights and the Student Charter

Unsure what you can do? Unsure where to look?

Whilst this will inevitably vary between institutions, some general advice and commentary is offered to ensure you know your responsibilities and your rights as a student.

When you first accept a university enrolment for a course of study you are agreeing to abide by the rights and responsibilities as a student and also what you can expect from staff, faculty and the university overall.

For many institutions this is either referred to as '[Insert University] Student Charter' or '[Insert University] Rights and Responsibilities.' It is worth ensuring that you are familiar with the expectations of your own institution. Typically, for students this is mostly noticeable with regard to submitting assessment tasks as there's often a section where you agree or tick a box to state that this submission is your own work and conforms to the expectations of University policy and procedure and academic integrity.

I've had some experience with these areas as a student, but mostly as a sessional lecturer. Personally as a student, I've used Student Charter documentation to ask for rubrics (when they haven't been published) or to challenge assessment marking and feedback where I've felt there is an error or discrepancy in marking.

However, for me personally, decisions of this nature are not taken lightly and I've only used this as a last resort. For instance, I recently received marking and feedback for an assessment task that I felt was not consistent with the rubric nor the expectations for the task. I consulted my assessment submission again, the Marking and Grading procedures and took some time to think about whether it was in my best interest to challenge this grade. I also read the assessment review policy for my relevant faculty to understand who I needed to contact and in what order and what evidence I needed to provide and the timeline for lodging concerns and receiving feedback.

As a final point for students, receiving a mark that you don't expect is never a pleasant experience. However, never write an email to your tutor/lecturer that day.

Ask yourself the following questions

Did my assessment accurately cover the expectations for the assessment and the rubric?

Have I re-read my submission and critically evaluated the points of feedback and their credibility? (Often students skip this step in my experience as a marker)

Does the feedback provided match the rubric and articulate the reasons why I was graded with a certain criterion?

What evidence from my assessment and from the rubric do I need to show my lecturer/faculty, to raise grounds for a review of my assessment? (Take some time to read marking and grading procedures for your institution)

If I pursue an assessment review, ultimately what is it that I want at the end? Is it a review for a grade or two, is it a re-mark?

Sometimes, is it worth pursuing at all?

Consult the Student Association relevant to you (Undergraduate or Graduate) as they generally offer free advice and can help assist you in understanding processes and procedures and sometimes, might help you draft responses but this will vary between institutions. At the very least, they are a great source to consult and ask questions.

Lastly, wait at least a day and draft a well articulated response that clearly tells the tutor/lecturer the objections that you raise and doesn't include any emotive language, you should be clearly stating the facts. And if needed, escalate this review process in line with the processes outlined by your University.

As a academic member of staff, I've consulted this documentation primarily from an academic point of view, where I'm raising concerns about student work samples as they appear to be plagiarised or where there has been suspicion for collusion. However, I have also reviewed it where student communication and language with me (written or verbal) is not consistent with these expectations. Whilst so far I've always raised concerns to a more senior academic staff for their investigation and follow up, I've used this documentation to substantiate my concerns. Often in the first instance they're warnings and discussion with a senior member of academic staff, but ongoing failures to adhere to these rights and responsibilities can jeopardise your unit of study, and ultimately your course progression and place within an institution.