FAQ

2017 Holidays FAQ

If you are unwell on the day of an exam, you must obtain a medical certificate from a treating physician or a psychologist. The certificate must be obtained on the day of your absence (ie. the day of the exam) and sent to the University (your professor or the academic unit of the faculty offering the course) within 5 business days of the exam. If the exam you are missing is offered by the Telfer School of Management you must ask the doctor to fill out this medical form.

You do not have an obligation to obtain a note from the University of Ottawa Health Services. This means that you can consult a physician at the medical clinic of your choice.

Click here to read the relevant academic regulation – see Section 9.5.

The regulation states that you must warn your professor or the academic unit of the faculty offering the course of your illness. The regulation states that your professor or academic unit will then have the right to request a medical certificate from a treating physician or a psychologist indicating the date of your return to studies. In the vast majority of cases, a certificate will be requested, even if you are warning the University ahead of time, so you may want to arrange an appointment with a treating physician or psychologist right away.

Click here to read the relevant academic regulation – see Section 9.5.

There are three reasons that are considered valid for missing an exam: (1) physical illness; (2) psychological problems; and (3) exceptional personal circumstances such as a death in your family.

In the case of exceptional personal circumstances, you will need to explain what is happening and why it is outside your control; ideally, you would also have supporting documentation such as a death certificate. Note that travel and work are typically not considered valid reasons to miss an exam.

For more information click here.

Academic Regulation 10.3 states the following:

When grade reviews can take place during the term, students must submit their request within five (5) working days of receiving the contested grade. For grades received on final exams or in cases when grade reviews take place only at the end of the term, the request must be submitted within ten (10) working days after the grade in question becomes official (see the University calendar for the exact date).

As you can see, the regulation is therefore somewhat ambiguous as it is not necessary clear what is meant by “can take place during the term”. As a rule of thumb, if a grade is received after courses finish, ie. after December 6th, 2017, it is generally safe to consider that the grade review can no longer take place during the term and the deadline is therefore 10 workings days after the grade becomes official, which is February 1, 2018. Though there is ambiguity within this regulation, the SRC recently won a case setting this precedent, so feel free to contact us if you have any problems in this regard.

First, consult our page with relevant information. The person to whom you are addressing your letter of appeal differs depending on the Faculty of School concerned.  Send us your draft letter of appeal for comments and to know who to address it to! We will review your letter as of January 4, 2018.

To count working days, do not count the day on which you received the letter informing you of your deadline, nor the weekends, holidays and the days when the University is shut down. The University is shut down from December 23rd 2017 to to January 2nd 2018 (inclusive).

For example, if you received a letter on Monday December 11th informing you that you have 10 working days to appeal, your last day to submit your appeal is January 3rd. You do not count December 11th because that is the day you received the letter. December 22nd is your 9th working day, therefore the 10th working day is January 3rd when the University reopens.

Read our explanation of the academic fraud process here and consult our FAQ section specific to academic fraud below.

The University reopens on January 3, 2018 and our office reopens on January 4, 2018. Courses only begin on January 8, 2018 however (with exceptions in the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Medicine).

If you feel comfortable with it and you think your Professor might be responsive, your first step should be to try discussing the matter with your Professor. Sometimes this can resolve the matter quickly and efficiently. If this is not the case, you may contact the Chair of the department offering the course. In doing so, be sure to write a clear, detailed explanation of the issue. Point out specific instances of topics that were not covered, and if you can provide elements of proof (i.e. lecture slides, textbook excerpts), be sure to do so. You should also include the course syllabus and any other relevant information. You can also wait for our assistance, as our office reopens on January 4, 2018.

While SASS-AA has strict deadlines for examination submission and accommodation requests, this does not mean that you will not be accommodated. As a first step, contact SASS-AA directly to confirm that they did not in fact receive the examination and are unable to host your exam. If your accommodations can reasonably be offered by your faculty (i.e. you require a quiet space or extra time), contact your faculty’s undergraduate office as soon as possible to see if they are able to host the exam. If this is not the case, you may need to defer the exam in order to ensure you have access to accommodations. In order to do so, notify your Professor, SASS-AA, and your Faculty’s undergraduate office, and provide supporting documentation. Our strong recommendation is for you to request to defer the examination, rather than trying to write the examination without your accommodations.

Unfortunately, the regulations are not in your favor if you were aware of your medical condition or extenuating circumstances at the time of the examination. Regulation 9.5 e) states the following: “Students who write an examination during the period of disability specified on the medical certificate cannot later plead illness to appeal their examination results.” In any case, you may try reasoning with the Professor, or pleading your case with the Chair of the Department offering the course.

If, however,  you were not aware that you were too ill to write an exam (i.e. you had an undiagnosed disability), or if you did not realize the impact of the extenuating circumstances you faced on your performance, there may be recourse. Please book an appointment with one of our advocates upon our return to the office on January 4th, 2018 in order to discuss the matter.

If you notice a time conflict between two or more exams, that is if you have two or more scheduled at the same time, or if you have three exams that start and end within 24 hours, be sure to contact your Faculty’s undergraduate office immediately. You can email them, but if the matter is urgent, you should try to go in person. If you do not receive a prompt response or if it is too late for the Faculty to help, you should also contact each of the professors involved to see if one of them is able to move their exam.

Write down precisely what happened to document the situation to the best of your ability: what happened, how many students did it affect, and how significant was it? Contact your professor or the chair of the department as soon as possible to inform them and to see what measures can be taken.

No, your work schedule will not be considered a valid reason to defer the exam. To obtain further information on exams, please see the following page: http://www.uottawa.ca/academic-regulations/exams.html.

Take a deep breath, be resourceful, document everything, and enjoy the holidays! We’ll be back to help you on January 4, 2018.

General FAQ

A case’s chances of success depend entirely on the particularities of the case.

When consulting with one of the SRC’s advocates, you will be given their general impressions regarding your chances of success. This opinion is based solely on the Centre’s past experiences, and in no way guarantees the outcome of the appeal.

The answer to this question depends entirely on the type of appeal you are pursuing. Consult our page on appeals and regulations for more information on more specific types of cases.

You will notice that in many cases, there aren’t any fixed deadlines to submit an appeal. This is the case for requests for retro-active drops and some complaints. However, even in the absence of fixed deadlines, it is always prudent to file your appeal as early as possible.

In the case of human rights related complaints, you have 12 months from the date of the last incident to file your complaint. This is true both internally with the University’s Human Rights Office and with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The Student Rights Centre strongly believes that all students who address the University deserve a response within a reasonable delay.

When your addressee does not respond, begin with a follow-up message.  If the recipient does not answer your second attempt, consult their supervisor and inform them of your situation. You may also ask the SRC to follow-up on your behalf.

Before consulting a supervisor, make sure to have allotted a reasonable amount of time for your addressee to respond.

Such a “reasonable amount of time” varies from one case to another. At times, one should expect more than a month’s delay. The SRC will outline what is understood by a “reasonable amount of time”, given the nature of your case.

Yes. This is a part of the University’s academic regulation 8.3 and the student responsibilities concerning academic affairs. Moreover, your professor may specify your obligations concerning class attendance in the course syllabus. Your professor also has the right to refuse you access to a final exam if you have did not abide by these requirements. This being said, policies related to class attendance that go beyond the University regulation must be listed in the course syllabus.

To begin, you have to know the numeric value of all your grades.

Grade

Value (%)

Numerical Value

A+

90-100

10

A

85-89

9

A-

80-84

8

B+

75-79

7

B

70-74

6

C+

66-69

5

C

60-65

4

D+

55-59

3

D

50-54

2

E

40-49

1

F

0-39

0

Here is an example of a semester’s grade report:

Course

Letter Grade

Credits

Numerical Value

Grade Point Average

ENG 1100

E

3

1

3 x 1 = 3

PHI 1102

A

3

9

3 x 9 = 27

MAT 1302

B

3

6

3 x 6 = 18

PSY 1101

C

3

4

3 x 4 = 12

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  1. Add up all your grade point values
    3 + 27 + 18 + 12 = 60
  2. Add up all your credits
    3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12
  3. Divide the result obtained at Step One by the result obtained at Step Two
    60 ÷ 12 = 5.0 is your grade point average

Academic Fraud FAQ

  • According to the Regulation on Academic Fraud, expulsion is one of the most severe sanctions. Within the last ten years, the Student Rights Centre staff has seen this sanction imposed in four cases out of hundreds of cases.
  • In the majority of cases, students found guilty of academic fraud receive a written warning, a grade of zero for the work in question, or for part of the work in question, a failing grade for the course, or failing grade for the course with the addition of 3 to 30 credits to the requirements of their program (sanctions 2a to 2g).
  • Sanctions vary according to the severity of the fraudulent act in question, attenuating circumstances and the intent of the student. A student found guilty of academic fraud on more than one occasion will likely be sanctioned more severely.
  • The only sanction that plans for a mention on your transcript is sanction k) inclusion of a permanent statement on the student’s official transcript: Sanction pursuant to contravention of the University regulation on fraud.
  • Otherwise, your sanction will not appear on your transcript. This being said, any failing grade received as a result of the application of a sanction will of course appear on your transcript. That failure will not be accompanied with a note indicating it is the result of academic fraud.
  • To answer this question you must first ask yourself if you consider that you are indeed guilty of contravening the regulations on academic fraud. By accepting the accelerated process you recognize that you breached, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the regulation and a sanction will be imposed, even if you made an honest mistake. A letter will be placed in your file indicating the sanction. This letter will not specify whether the infraction was voluntary or involuntary.
  • If you are unsure about which process to chose, do not hesitate to consult us. You may also opt for the accelerated process, keeping in mind that once a sanction is proposed, you may chose not to sign the accelerated process agreement letter and your case will automatically be referred to the regular process.
  • The Student Rights Centre observed that more and more students opt for the accelerated process because they wish to resolve the matter as soon as possible – regardless of their belief with regard to their innocence. We have also been witness to students being pressured unduly into opting for the accelerated process. In our opinion, it is best to defend yourself fully if you believe that you are innocent. Although the regular process does take longer than the accelerated process, the delays encountered by students have improved in recent years.
  • When a student if found not guilty, it is understood that the accusation was unfounded – it is as if the allegation never happened.
  • All documents used to accuse you will therefore be destroyed.
  • Professors are not obligated to inform students if they are suspicious of academic fraud and may chose to refer the situation to the dean.
  • Thus, professors who sanction you directly do so in an informal manner, without triggering the official procedures outlined in the university regulation.
  • Many cases of academic fraud are dealt with informally. Depending on the situation, this may be to the student’s advantage. For example, a student who recognizes their mistake may be happy to be sanctioned directly by the professor and avoid the stress associated with the formal procedure.
  • Some professors approach students who they suspect have committed academic fraud before referring the case to the faculty. While this can be an opportunity to explain yourself and potentially have the case resolved, keep in mind that anything you tell your professor can be used by the university in the context of the formal academic fraud proceedings.
  • If you feel that the professor’s informal sanction is unfair, consult the SRC to see what can be done.
  • According to the current interpretation of the academic regulation, yes.
  • This situation unfortunately arises frequently. In fact, an important number of student who consult the Student Rights Centre have simply made honest mistakes in their referencing.
  • According to the regulation on academic fraud, a student’s intention or ignorance of the regulations are not sufficient grounds for finding that the student is not guilty. You may be found guilty of academic fraud, even if you plagiarized accidentally or in good faith.
  • In the context of your defence, it is important to explain why and how you made a mistake. What happened, exactly? Are you a student who writes academic papers often? If you have made a citation error, did you cite the source in your bibliography?
  • Although this is not an official sanction listed in section 2 of the regulation, you can always offer alternative sanctions: rewriting your assignment; writing a new assignment; or writing a summary of the regulations pertaining to academic fraud are some ideas. The University is under no obligation to consider alternative sanctions.
  • At the Student Rights Centre, we denounce this strict interpretation of the regulation. To not consider a student’s intentions in determining whether or not there is plagiarism is a great injustice that we continue to fight. Thankfully, over the years we have observed that the student’s intention was taken into account when considering the appropriate sanction.                
  • Cases of academic fraud are decided on the balance of probabilities. If the University has brought forth an allegation of academic fraud against you, it usually means that there is enough evidence, on the balance of probabilities, to find you guilty.
  • Once accused, you will therefore have to offer a defence that will allow the committee to conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that the allegation is not sufficiently founded.
  • Speaking in terms of criminal law, you are not innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

About the Student Rights Centre

You have already paid! As a student of the University of Ottawa, you will notice that part of your fees go to the Student Federation. A small portion of those fees serve to fund the Student Rights Centre.

The Student Rights Centre never gives legal advice. The Centre’s personnel are not lawyers.

When confronted with an unjust situation many students express the desire to retain the services of a lawyer. Such a reaction is understandable but we recommend you begin by consulting the Student Rights Centre (it’s already paid for!)