Office of the Student Ombudsman
The University of Wollongong is committed to the early and informal resolution of any questions or concerns raised by students in relation to academic matters that affect a student’s progress in their studies.
The Student Ombudsman’s role adds value by ensuring that the University implements its processes fairly and, where necessary, instigates improvements. The Office of the Student Ombudsman provides a place for impartial and confidential review of these matters. You can expect to be treated with respect, to be given a fair hearing and to receive equitable treatment.
What is the student Ombudsman's role?
The Student Ombudsman’s task is to review, independently, undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree research (HDR) student academic appeals. Appeals may involve reviews of marks, grades and other academic decisions that have not been resolved either informally, or through the formal Faculty review process.
The Student Ombudsman is also responsible for the independent review of student academic misconduct appeals. Students may appeal against the finding of a Faculty Investigation Committee based on either a lack of procedural fairness or there is new and substantial evidence not previously considered.
In addition, the Student Ombudsman is responsible for the review of appeals from applicants not selected for, or refused admission to, a University course.
As Chair of the Coursework Exclusion Appeals Committee, the Student Ombudsman oversees the Stage 2 Coursework Student Course Progress appeals process.
Who is the Student Ombudsman?
Associate Professor Margaret Wallace is the Student Ombudsman.
Margaret has worked at UOW for over 20 years as in a broad range of roles, including as a faculty-based academic. She has undertaken educational research, including a national project on academic integrity, and has led a number of projects to with improving the student learning experience. She has been the Student Ombudsman since December 2016.
When can I submit an academic appeal to the Student Ombudsman?
Review of Academic Decisions (Coursework Student)
If you are a coursework student, you must first have submitted a formal request to review an academic decision, mark or grade and have completed Stage 1a and Stage 1b of the process i.e. a review by the Head of School (Stage 1a) and an appeal to the Faculty Designate (Stage 1b). You can then submit an appeal to Student Ombudsman (Stage 2) on the basis that:
- you do not believe the outcome of Stage 1a or 1b is supported by the available evidence
- you believe the Faculty has not acted in accordance with the Review and Appeal of Academic Decision Policy or related procedures in the handling of the case at Stage 1a or 1b of the process. This is also known as ‘providing procedural fairness’; or
- relevant new or additional information is now available that was not available at Stage 1a and 1b.
Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints
In the first instance, you must submit a formal academic complaint to your Faculty and complete Stage 1 of the formal academic complaints process. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage 1, you can then submit an appeal to Student Ombudsman (Stage 2) on the basis that:
- you do not believe the outcome of Stage 1 of the process is supported by the available evidence;
- due process has not been adhered to by the Faculty; or
- relevant new or additional information is now available that was not available at Stage 1.
You must submit an appeal to the Student Ombudsman within twenty (20) business days of the date you receive the outcome of your Stage 1 review by the Faculty Designate.
What are the possible outcomes of an appeal to the Student Ombudsman?
Following a review and assessment of all relevant documents, a number of outcomes are possible. The Student Ombudsman may determine that:
- there are insufficient grounds for the appeal and decline the appeal; or
- a basis for negotiation exists between the student and relevant parties, and a conciliated outcome can be reached; or
- there is reason to uphold the appeal and recommend or direct remedial action, in line with the powers of the Student Ombudsman role.
When will I have a decision on my appeal?
For coursework student appeals, the Student Ombudsman will notify her decision within twenty (20) business days and, where relevant, of the process for continuing your appeal.
Higher Degree Research student academic complaints can be more complex and, consequently, may take some time for a thorough investigation of a matter. The Student Ombudsman will regularly update you on the progress of the investigation; notify the decision in a timely and appropriate way; and, where relevant, of the process for continuing your appeal.
Where can I find the Student Ombudsman?
The Student Ombudsman's Office is located in Room 19.G003 (Building 19, Ground Floor, north-east wing). Reception hours are Monday to Wednesday 8.30am - 4.00pm.
Phone: 61 2 42214355