Policies and Procedures
Academic Dispute Resolution
Challenges to academic decisions or actions of the faculty or academic administration will be reviewed according to this procedure which implements the UA Board of Regents Policy 09.03.02 and its University Regulation on Resolution of Disputes Regarding Academic Decisions or Actions. Appropriate issues for this procedure include such things as alleged arbitrary and capricious dismissal from or denial of admission to an academic program based upon academic considerations or alleged grading error or arbitrary and capricious grading for a final grade assignment. Grades assigned prior to the final grade received in a course are not subject to review under this procedure. Only the course instructor or an academic decision review committee may authorize a change in the assignment of a final grade.
- Academic Decision Review Committee: An academic decision review committee is an ad hoc committee to formally review a contested final grade assignment or other academic decision. The committee will be composed of faculty, a non-voting committee chair who may be a faculty, and a non-voting student representative. The campus director or designee will appoint faculty or staff committee members. The campus student government president will appoint the student representative, from a list of students recommended by the campus Director or designee. To be eligible, the student must be currently enrolled in at least three credits, in good disciplinary standing, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
- Arbitrary and Capricious Grading: Arbitrary and capricious grading means the assignment of a final course grade on a basis other than performance in the course; the use of standards different from those applied to other students in the same course; or substantial, unreasonable and/or unannounced departure from the course instructor’s previously articulated standards or criteria (see also: Grading Error.)
- Class Day: As used in the schedule for review of academic decisions, a class day is any day of scheduled instruction, excluding Saturday and Sunday included on the academic calendar in effect at the time of a review. Final examination periods are counted as class days.
- Final Grade: The final grade is the grade assigned for a course upon its completion.
- Grading Error: A grading error is a mathematical miscalculation of a final grade or an inaccurate recording of the final grade (see also: Arbitrary and Capricious grading.)
- Next Regular Semester: The next regular semester is the fall or spring semester following the semester in which the disputed academic decision was made. For example, it would be the fall semester for a final grade issued for a course completed during the previous spring semester or summer session. The spring semester is the next regular semester for an academic decision made during the previous fall semester.
Procedures for Resolving Disputes Regarding Final Grade Assignment
Students may challenge a final grade assignment on the basis of alleged grading error or arbitrary and capricious grading. Because grades can affect such things as a student’s eligibility for continued financial aid, students must learn their final grades and initiate a review, where desired, as soon as possible.
The time schedule outlined in this procedure stipulates maximum time periods within which to complete stages of the review.
However, permission for extensions of time may be granted, in writing, by the campus director or designee.
Informal Procedure for Academic Disputes Regarding Final Grade Assignment
Where possible, students will be expected to first request an informal resolution of the final grade assignment with the course instructor or department chair/academic leader. The process must be initiated by the 15th class day of the next regular semester of PWSC. The instructor or department chair must respond to the request within five class days of receipt.
If the course instructor’s decision is to change the final grade, the instructor must promptly initiate the process. If the instructor does not change the grade and the student’s concerns remain unresolved, the student may notify the department chair/academic leader responsible for the course. Within five class days of such notification, the department chair/academic leader must either effect resolution of the issue with the instructor or inform the student of the process for formally appealing the final grade assignment. If the course instructor is no longer an employee of the University or is otherwise unavailable, the student must notify the department chair/academic leader by the 15th class day of the next regular semester. Within five class days of notification by the student, the department chair/academic leader must either effect resolution of the issue through contact with the course instructor or inform the student of the process for formally appealing the final grade assignment.
Formal Procedure for Academic Disputes Regarding Final Grade Assignment
A student formally requesting a review of a final grade assignment must provide the dean/campus director or designee a signed, written request for a formal review, indicating the basis for requesting a change of grade.
The request must be filed by the 20th class day of the next regular semester or within five class days of receipt of notification of the process for filing a formal review by the department chair/academic leader after completion of any informal review. The campus Director or designee will convene an academic decision review committee.
The written request for a formal review from the student will be forwarded to the academic decision review committee by the campus Director or designee. The committee chair will convene the committee within ten class days of receipt of the student’s written request for review. The committee will first consider whether the facts submitted by the student warrant a formal hearing and, if so, conduct the hearing.
The student and the course instructor must be notified in writing at least three class days in advance of the time and place the request will be considered and of the process to be followed.
If on initial review the academic decision review committee determines that the facts as presented would not constitute arbitrary or capricious grading or a grading error, the committee will dismiss the case without a formal hearing. This decision will constitute the final decision of the University. The committee’s decision will be provided in writing by the committee chair to the student, the course instructor, the department chair and the campus Director.
Academic Decision Review Committee Hearings
If the academic decision review committee determines that the facts as presented might constitute arbitrary or capricious grading or a grading error, the committee will proceed to a formal hearing. The committee will consider information provided by the student, the course instructor if available, and others as it sees fit.
Academic dispute hearings will normally be closed. Requests for an open proceeding must be made in writing by a party prior to the start of the hearing to the committee chair. Such requests will be granted to the extent allowed by law unless the committee chair determines that all or part of a proceeding should be closed based upon considerations of fairness, justice, and other relevant factors. A party may choose an advisor to be present at all times during the proceedings. However, the advisor may not speak on behalf of the party. The committee may direct that witnesses, but not the parties or their advisors, be excluded from hearing except during their testimony. The deliberations of the committee will be closed to the public, the parties and their advisors.
Academic Decision Review Committee Decisions
The academic decision review committee proceedings will result in the preparation of written findings and conclusions. Conclusions will result in one of the following:
- The request for a grade change is denied.
- The request for a grade change is upheld and the committee requests the course instructor to change the grade and the course instructor changes the grade.
- The request for a grade change is upheld and the course instructor is either unavailable to change the grade or refuses to do so. The committee directs the campus director or designee to initiate the process to change the grade to that specified by the review committee.
The decision of the academic decision review committee constitutes the final decision of the University, and will be provided in writing to the student, the course instructor, the department chair and the campus director. The committee chair will be responsible for the preparation of a record of the hearing.
Unless an extension has been granted by the campus director or designee, disputes concerning final grades must be completed by the end of the next regular semester following the assignment of the grade.
Procedures for Resolving Disputes Regarding Denial of Admission to or Dismissal from a Program of Study for Academic Reasons
A student formally requesting a review of a denial of admission to or dismissal from a program for academic reasons must provide the campus Director or designee a signed, written request for a formal review, indicating the basis for requesting a review.
The request must be filed by the 20th class day of the next regular semester, or within five class days of receipt of notification of the process for filing a formal review by the department chair after completion of any informal review. The only exception will be when written permission for an extension of time is granted by the campus Director or designee.
Formal reviews and hearings of academic decisions regarding denial of admission to or dismissal from a program for academic reasons will be conducted by an academic decision review committee according to the same timelines and procedures for academic disputes regarding arbitrary and capricious grading or a grading error with the following exceptions:
- The academic decision review committee proceedings will result in the preparation of written findings and recommendations to the campus director or designee and the student. The committee chair will be responsible for the preparation of a record of the hearing.
- The student will be given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the committee. Written comments must be submitted to the campus director or designee within seven days of the committee findings and recommendations are sent to the student.
- The campus Director or designee will review the written findings and recommendations of the academic decision review committee, the record of the hearing and any written comments submitted by the student and make a decision. The campus director or designee’s decision will constitute the final decision of the University on the matter and will be provided, in writing, to the student, the department chair and the committee.
- The provost will make the final decision of the University on the matter if the campus director or designee is the person who made the academic decision under review.
Unless an extension has been granted by the campus director or designee, final decisions must be completed by the end of the next regular semester following the date of the denial admission to or dismissal from a program for academic reasons.
Undergraduate students are in good standing when they have a UAA cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher and a semester GPA of 2.00 or higher for the most recently completed semester. Individual departments may establish additional criteria for good standing. Students are presumed to be in good standing during their first semester at PWSC/UAA. Students in good standing are academically eligible to re-enroll at PWSC/UAA.
Admitted certificate, associate, or baccalaureate degree-seeking students who fail to earn a PWSC/UAA semester and/or cumulative GPA of 2.00 will be subject to academic action. Academic action may result in warning, probation, continuing probation, or loss of certificate or undergraduate degree-seeking status. Individual departments may establish additional criteria for departmental academic action. Failure to meet or maintain these criteria may result in departmental probation or removal from a major program.
Academic Warning is the status assigned to those students whose semester GPA falls below 2.00 but whose cumulative GPA is 2.00 or higher.
Placed on Probation is the status assigned to those students whose semester and cumulative GPA falls below 2.00.
“Continued on Probation” is the status assigned to those students who begin a semester on probation and during that semester earn a semester GPA of 2.00 or higher without raising their cumulative GPA to 2.00. This status may be continued until the student raises their cumulative GPA to 2.00 or loses their certificate or undergraduate degree-seeking status.
Loss of Certificate or Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Status
Academic Disqualification is the status assigned to those students who begin a semester on probation or continuing probation and fail to earn a semester GPA of 2.00. Those students’ admission status will be changed to “Non-Degree-seeking.”
Students who have lost “Certificate or Undergraduate Degree-Seeking” status may continue to attend PWSC/UAA as non-degree-seeking students. However, those students do not qualify for financial aid and international students will lose their immigration status. Students must apply for reinstatement to PWSC/UAA (see reinstatement policy).
Students who have lost certificate or undergraduate degree-seeking status may continue to attend PWSC/UAA as non-degree-seeking students. After completing a minimum of 12 credits at PWSC/UAA and/or another accredited post-secondary institution in 100-level or higher courses with a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher, students may apply for reinstatement to PWSC/UAA. If approved, reinstated students must then reapply for admission to a certificate or undergraduate degree program. A reinstated student whose PWSC/UAA cumulative GPA is less than 2.00 (C) will begin the semester on probation. Applications for Reinstatement forms are available from Student Services.
Departmental Probation or Removal From a Major Program
Individual departments may establish additional criteria for departmental academic action. Failure to meet or maintain these criteria may result in departmental probation or removal from a major program. Those students’ major program will be changed to Undeclared. Students will remain in a certificate or undergraduate degree-seeking status as long as the University’s minimum academic standards are met. Undeclared students must use the Change of Major/Degree form and process to request re-admission or admission to a new program. Forms are available from Student Services.
Other Academic Decisions
Review procedures for all other academic decisions may be obtained from the department chair/academic leader, the campus Director or the PWSC/UAA course catalog. Disputes regarding decisions associated with appropriate academic adjustments and programmatic accommodation for students with disabilities will be reviewed according to procedures set forth in University Regulation 09.06.00 Services for Students with Disabilities.
Eligibility for Services Pending Final Decision in the Review Process
During the review of an academic action or decision by the University, the action or decision being contested will remain in effect until the dispute is resolved. Should an academic action or decision affect the student’s eligibility for financial aid, housing, or other University service, the student will be informed of the steps to be taken that may maintain or reinstate the affected service. The student will be responsible for initiating any necessary actions or procedures.
Access to Student Records (FERPA)
University of Alaska officials take student privacy seriously. Both state and federal laws protect student privacy. One of the most important is the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (known as FERPA) of 1974. The University of Alaska protects student privacy with an opt-out system.
FERPA has several important provisions. The first is that students (or their parents, if under 18 years old) have the right to inspect and review their educational records and to request a correction to any errors. The second is that the school may not disclose, without consent, information other than “directory information” to anyone outside the institution. Directory information generally includes such things as a student’s name, date and type of degrees earned, dates of attendance, vital statistics on student athletes, etc. For more details on the university’s directory information, go to https://catalog.uaa.alaska.edu/policies/studentfreedomsrightsandresponsibilities/ferpa/ .
The third provision of FERPA allows a student to request to withhold directory information. If a student has made such a request, the college cannot release their information to anyone, other than school officials with a legitimate educational interest, without the student’s written permission. This third provision has recently been a topic of much debate. People value their privacy more than ever, and many universities, including the University of Alaska, are looking for ways to help protect student information.
Students who request that UA withhold their directory information, also known as a “confidentiality hold,” must realize the following:
- The student’s name will not be printed in the published university chancellor’s and dean’s lists or commencement program;
- Employers, insurance companies, etc. cannot obtain verification of the student’s attendance and/or degrees earned without the student’s expressed written permission;
- The student will only be able to discuss their UA records or accounts (including computer accounts) in person after presenting a valid government-issued or UA photo identification.
Students who have requested holds then call the Registrar’s office or business office for something related to their records, will not be able to receive help. Students who have requested a confidential hold may only receive help in person, with ID in hand, or in writing.
This includes all information related to student records, financial aid and billing, as well as obtaining help via the phone by a Help Desk.
Students who have requested confidential holds and then need a password reset or any special assistance with UAA e-mail, Blackboard, UAOnline or other accounts, must take care of that business in person. Potential employers will not be able to verify students’ educational records indicated on job applications and résumés. Family and friends will not be able to contact students using standard directory services.
Students do have the option to go into UAOnline and remove a confidential hold, then go back and add it again later. UAOnline has been modified to display a red text box upon login if a student has the confidentiality field set to “yes.”
The University has developed an online tutorial for students, faculty and staff who need to know about FERPA for their jobs, or for those who are just curious to learn more. For instructions on how to get to the tutorial, to update a confidential hold status in UAOnline or for any information on the University of Alaska FERPA policies, go to www.alaska.edu/studentservices/ferpa/.