Policy Recommending Withdrawal on Academic Grounds

  • (Approved by Academic Council January 17, 2013)
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applicable to students in the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy or Rehabilitation Science programs of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

Any academic decision can be appealed by students under the School of Rehabilitation Therapy (SRT) policy entitled Appeals Against Academic Decisions. This document (Withdrawal on Academic Grounds) does not apply to the appeal of an academic decision. Instead, this document outlines the procedures to follow and the responsibilities related to recommending that students be required to withdraw from their program on academic grounds. Note that a recommendation for withdrawal can be made as a consequence of failure of an academic course (part A, below), failure of a thesis (part B, below), or on general academic grounds (part C, below). A recommendation for withdrawal may be appealed by the student under the SRT policy Appeals Against Academic Decisions.

In keeping with the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), unsatisfactory performance by students during the program may cause proceedings to be instituted whereby the SRT a recommends that students be required to withdraw on academic grounds. This document explains the procedures and responsibilities related to a recommendation to withdraw for all programs in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy - Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Rehabilitation Science.

Prior to making a recommendation under the procedures below, the Program Chair, and/or Director of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy shall communicate with students about the possible recommendation for withdrawal and the processes that will follow, and the grounds for the recommendation.

Students shall be informed in writing when their Graduate Program shall be making a recommendation of withdrawal to the School of Graduate Studies, and shall be informed of the grounds for the recommendation.

Unsatisfactory academic performance by students may lead to a recommendation that they be required to withdraw. There are several circumstances that may lead to this recommendation and, as these differ in certain important respects, the procedures of appeal and review differ. The situations are dealt with separately in the following sections.

A. Withdrawal due to Failure of a Primary Course:

Note: Any course that is used to meet degree requirements is a primary course. Some primary courses are core (required) some are not (optional). Within the Rehabilitation Science program, all courses are likely to be considered primary.

Due to the professional nature of the MSc (OT) and MSc (PT) programs and the programs' accreditation processes, all academic and clinical courses are considered primary. Students must pass all courses. Therefore a mark in any academic or clinical that is a failure (pass/fail course) or is lower than B- (B minus) (course based on a letter grade), will lead to the enactment of these procedures.

Procedures: In cases where students do not pass (pass/fail course) or achieve B- (in a letter graded course) in a primary course in their graduate program, the Program Chair, under the advisement of the appropriate Student Progress and Awards Committee, may recommend to the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council that students:

  1. Repeat the examination (or equivalent) within one year after the original examination (or equivalent), or
  2. Repeat the course, or
  3. Take a substitute course.

Students and Program Chairs shall be informed of the decision of the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council in writing by the School of Graduate Studies.

If the Program Chairs, under advisement of the Student Progress and Awards Committee, make none of the recommendations identified above (i.e., repeat examination [or equivalent], repeat course, substitute course), or if the recommendation that is made is not approved by the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council, students shall be required to withdraw due to failure of a primary course or courses.

The Faculty Graduate Council, or its duly empowered Chair or Associate Chair, shall examine the case to see that proper procedures were followed, and if this is ascertained, the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council shall notify the School of Graduate Studies, who shall inform students in writing of the Program Chairs' recommendation and the confirmation of the recommendation by the Faculty Graduate Council. This letter will also inform students of the relevant appeal procedure under SGS General Regulation Appeals Against Academic Decisions and of the academic services provided by the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students' Student Advisors.

Review of the Program Chair's recommendation by the Faculty Graduate Council or its duly empowered Chair or Associate Chair, is limited to procedural matters and any extenuating circumstances only and does not entail assessing the academic decision itself.

If the case is evidently straightforward, it may be approved by the Chair/Associate Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council and then must be submitted for approval and action to School of Graduate Studies, and also reported back to Faculty Graduate Council. Otherwise, the Program Chairs' recommendation will be placed on the agenda for decision by Faculty Graduate Council at its next meeting.

If the Program Chairs' recommendation is taken to a meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council, the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council shall inform students that they may attend the meeting, with or without a representative or advisor, and that they are entitled to present the case. If students intend to be accompanied by legal counsel, they must provide at least 48 hours' notice to the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council who reserves the right to reschedule the discussion of the matter to another meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council, if notice is not given. If students do not wish to attend the meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council, they can submit a written response to the recommendation, for circulation to the Council and for discussion by the Council at the meeting. If students do not respond to an invitation to attend the meeting, or do not make a written submission, the process will continue without their input.

All such Faculty Graduate Council decisions are subject to appeal, under the SGS General Regulation Appeals Against Academic Decisions. It is the responsibility of the Chair or Associate Chair of Faculty Graduate Council to represent Council and explain the decision to the SGS Academic Appeal Board, if/as required.

The details about each of the three recommendations (repeat the examination [or equivalent]; repeat the course; take a substitute course) that the Program Chair could possibly make are described below, for academic and clinical courses.

Recommendations Details for Failure of a Primary Course: Academic Courses

Option 1 recommends that students repeat the examination (or equivalent). This recommendation is possible in all three programs under the auspices of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.

The opportunity to repeat an examination (or equivalent) may be recommended after due consideration by the appropriate Student Progress and Awards Committee (i.e., Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science). Some academic courses may not be amenable to repeat examinations (or equivalent). To be eligible to repeat the examination (or equivalent) students must have:

  1. Received a final grade of C- or higher, and/or
  2. Have extenuating circumstances supported by appropriate documentation (such as a doctor's note).

The repeat examination (or equivalent) may consist of any combination of written or practical components, as appropriate to the course, and may be comprehensive with respect to the course content or address the aspects of the course where performance was unsatisfactory. A repeat examination (or equivalent) could be worth up to 100% of the final grade, based on the recommendation of the instructor and a final decision of the appropriate Student Progress and Awards Committee. If a repeat examination (or equivalent) opportunity is granted, it should be scheduled as soon as feasible. When the failure has occurred in part or in whole because of a substantiated departure from academic integrity (as per SGS regulations), the steps for dealing with this situation are outlined in the SGS regulation on Academic Integrity at: http://www.queensu.ca/calendars/sgsr/Academic_Integrity_Policy.html

Option 2 recommends that students repeat the course. This recommendation is possible in all three programs although it is not normally done in academic courses within the MScOT or MScPT programs because it would result in a full year delay for students.

Option 3 recommends that students take a substitute course. This recommendation applies only to the Rehabilitation Science program. Substitute courses cannot be granted in the MSc(OT) and MSc(PT) programs, since all courses, academic and clinical, are mandatory.

Recommendations Details for Failure of a Primary Course: Clinical Courses

Clinical courses are part of the MScOT and MScPT programs; these courses are not part of the Rehabilitation Science program.

Option 1 (that students repeat the examination [or equivalent]). This option does not apply to clinical courses since these courses do not include formal examinations but rather are evaluated based on developmental and cumulative performance that involves synthesis and professional application of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a regulated practice setting.

Option 2 (that students repeat the course). This option can be made by the Occupational or Physical Therapy Student Progress and Awards Committee for a clinical course, if there is evidence of extenuating circumstances that are sufficient to make allowances for inadequate performance. Note that withdrawal by students from a clinical course without the permission of the Clinical Education Coordinator and Program Chair will result in a failure in that course.

The opportunity to repeat a clinical course may be recommended after due consideration by the appropriate Student Progress and Awards Committee in either Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy. Since clinical courses are progressive (i.e., each one builds on the previous one), students who are granted the privilege to repeat a clinical course cannot advance to the next one in the sequence before passing the course to be repeated.

Option 3 (that students take a substitute course). This option does not apply to clinical courses since, due to accreditation standards governing the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs substitutions for the clinical courses are not permitted.

Withdrawal due to Failure of the Thesis by an Examining Committee (SGS regulation)

The properly constituted Examining Committee of a thesis establishes the academic decision concerning the thesis and its defence. Therefore, this committee holds the same position with respect to the thesis as the instructor holds in relation to the marking of an examination or other test in a primary course. The academic decision of the Examining Committee cannot be overturned. If the Examining Committee has decided to refer the decision pending major revision, it may:

  1. recommend revision of the thesis, or
  2. recommend additional research and revision of the thesis.

If the Examining Committee makes one of the above decisions, the Committee is not discharged and must examine the thesis as next submitted. The holding of a second oral defence is at the discretion of the Examining Committee.

The second submission of a thesis that was referred pending major revision requires a final decision of pass or fail by the Examining Committee. If the Examining Committee considers students to have failed based on the written and oral defence, the Examining Committee will recommend withdrawal from the program.

Appeal of a decision of fail on a graduate thesis is through the SGS General Regulation Appeals Against Academic Decisions, Appeal of Thesis Examination Committee Decision.

NOTE: "Thesis" refers to the substantive, terminal research document of any research Master's degree, currently represented by the course number 899, or to the Doctoral Dissertation, the substantive, terminal research document of all Doctoral degrees, currently represented by the course number 999. The appeal of the grade of any Master's Essay, Report, or Project currently represented by the course number 898, falls under the SGS General Regulation Appeal of an Assigned Grade in a Graduate Course.

Withdrawal on General Academic Grounds:

In addition to circumstances outlined for Withdrawal due to failure of a primary course and Withdrawal due to failure of a thesis examination, there are other academic circumstances that could lead to a recommendation that students be required to withdraw. Examples include: in the judgment of the Student Progress and Awards Committee students may be making unsatisfactory progress in their program or research; students may have failed the comprehensive or integrative examination; there may have been marginal performance in courses or seminars; preliminary drafts of chapters of the thesis may reveal an unsatisfactory standard of scholarship; or in the judgment of the Student Progress and Awards Committee, or supervisor or a supervisory committee, the students' overall academic performance in coursework is not acceptable.

For such cases, the appropriate Student Progress and Awards Committee shall recommend withdrawal to the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council and shall inform students in writing that such a recommendation is being made and the grounds for this recommendation.

The Student Progress and Awards Committee recommendation shall be taken to a meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council. The Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council shall inform students that they may attend the meeting, with or without a representative, and that they are entitled to present the case. If students intend to be accompanied by legal counsel, they must provide at least 48 hours' notice to the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council, who reserves the right to reschedule the discussion of the matter to another meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council, if notice is not given. If students do not wish to attend the meeting of the Faculty Graduate Council, they can submit a written response to the recommendation, for circulation to the Council and for discussion by the Council at the meeting. If students do not respond to an invitation to attend the meeting, or do not make a written submission, the process will continue without their input.

Review of the Student Progress and Awards Committee recommendation by the Faculty Graduate Council is limited to procedural matters and any extenuating circumstances and does not entail an assessment of the academic decision itself.

If the Faculty Graduate Council approves the recommendation of the Student Progress and Awards Committee, the Chair of the Faculty Graduate Council shall report the case to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies who shall notify students in writing of the recommendation by the Faculty Graduate Council. This letter will also inform students of the relevant appeal procedure under SGS General Regulation Appeals Against Academic Decisions and of the academic services provided by the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students' Student Advisors.

All such Faculty Graduate Council decisions are subject to appeal, under the SGS General Regulation Appeals Against Academic Decisions. It is the responsibility of the Chair or Associate Chair of Faculty Graduate Council to represent Council and explain the decision to the SGS Academic Appeal Board, if/as required.

General Points:

Any students wishing to question the academic decisions of the Program or any of its instructors are strongly recommended to consult the SRT policy on Appeals Against Academic Decisions. It is recommended that students initially undertake informal discussions with the instructor, Program Chair and/or Director of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy before pursuing a formal appeal.

Some decisions can be appealed beyond the levels of the Programs, the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and the School of Graduate Studies. For more details, consult the Queen's University Senate Policy on Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline at http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/sites/webpublish.queensu.ca.uslcwww/files/files/policies/senateandtrustees/SARDPolicy.pdf.

Policy on Student Appeals, Rights and Discipline (SARD) - Last Revised 2015