ACADEMIC ADVOCACY 


Academic Advocates are available to all currently enrolled students of Flinders University and is free, independent and confidential. Our aim at FUSA is to help you understand University policies and systems to ensure you are aware of the options available to you. Our service includes advocacy, support, assistance, information and referrals on any issues that may affect the academic lives of students.
 

Whether you’re dissatisfied with a grade, struggling to make financial ends meet or are trying to wrap your head around University policy, FUSA’s Academic Advocates are here to help. 

We provide advice to individual students about your rights and responsibilities within the university, in a respectful, non-judgmental and timely manner. Most importantly, we systemically review and work on issues that affect the whole student body, and we do this by continuously assessing grievance trends, evaluating University policies and procedures, and providing submissions to relevant University units and external bodies accordingly.  

Our Advocates can help you navigate your way through a whole range of issues, including: 

  • Review of Grades (assessments and final topic grades) 
  • Academic integrity issues (plagiarism, collusion, etc.) 
  • Placement difficulties 
  • ‘Difficulties Progressing’ through your degree and ‘Review of Progress’  
  • Issues with University staff 
  • Remission and refund of debt under special circumstances procedures 
  • Assistance dealing with a complaint or grievance related to your studies 
  • Advice and support with regard to an appeal process 
  • Advice on Flinders University policies and procedures and how they relate to you as a student 

If you would like to make a booking, please fill in this form. It’s confidential, we will contact you by email within 48 hours to organise an appointment. 

The ways in which an advocate might assist will depend on your individual situation but may include: 

  • Discussing the situation with you to obtain your perspective, and clarifying any details if necessary. 
  • Working out with you what you are hoping to achieve by contacting an advocate. 
  • Investigating the situation further. This could include looking at policies and procedures relevant to the situation and may also include gathering further information from the University regarding the situation, always with your permission. 
  • Explaining the appropriate procedures that you need to follow in dealing with the situation. 
  • Outlining the options you have available, and the potential implications of each of these options. You will ultimately decide which option you wish to pursue. 
  • Advocating on your behalf to the University or other organisations. 
  • Attending meetings with you, as your support person. 
  • Advising you of further avenues for appeal, if required, whether within or outside the University. 

 

Meetings with advocates are informal and always confidential. You can expect us to help you navigate the University system. We help you identify your options, allowing you to ultimately decide on your preferred course of action. Advocates can also assist you review and edit an appeal and show cause letters, provide advice on grounds of appeal, make enquiries on your behalf, always with your permission, and attend meetings along with you. 

Please bring any relevant documents/letters/emails to the meeting so we can formulate the best way to assist you. 

Complaints are generally based on problems or issues relating to academic matters, course administration and relationships with other students or staff. Non-academic matters can also raise complaints such as remission of fees, credit transfer, etc. Complaints can be made by individuals or by groups of students. 

If you have a complaint and don’t know how to go about it, do come and speak to a Advocate for advice and guidance. 

Academic integrity covers issues such as plagiarism, collusion, fabrication, falsification and submitting the same assignment for more than one topic. 

The University takes academic integrity issues very seriously as it sits at the core of its reputation. As a student, you are expected to present work that is your own, with all sources and references to other pieces of work properly acknowledged. If you are ever involved in an academic integrity matter, talking to Advocacy early in the process is your best option. 

You are highly encouraged to contact the person responsible for the grade (tutor or lecturer) in the first instance, or failing this, the Topic Coordinator. This informal process often produces worthwhile and reasonable educational outcomes. It is also the University’s preferred first step in dealing with your concern. 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your informal discussions, SAOs can elaborate on your options and provide guidance through the appeal process. 

As part of this process it is very important to reflect on your circumstances, identify your arguments and develop a case as to why you believe the grade is unfair. 

The information that we collect allows us to confirm your student status, get in touch with you and facilitate our internal planning and review processes. The information is held in electronic format and is only accessible by FUSA advocacy staff. We take all reasonable steps to ensure the information is safe and protected from unauthorised access. 

We will not disclose personal information to anyone unless you give us permission to do so or a court order is produced. 

It is important to realise that an Access Plan does not provide an automatic right to extensions. If you have an Access Plan and wish to apply for an extension, you must do this by carefully adhering to the relevant instructions as set out on your Statement of Assessment Methods (SAM). The application needs to be submitted before the due date of your assignment and an alternative submission date must be negotiated by you with your lecturer. 

The University’s approach to student appeals and complaints resolution puts emphasis on resolving grievances as early as possible and as close as possible to the source of dissatisfaction. To apply for a review of a mark of an assessment exercise, it is important that you do first contact the topic coordinator to discuss this as a formal request for review needs to be lodged within 20 University Business Days of the receipt of the grade. 

If you are a continuing undergraduate or postgraduate coursework student and are planning on being away from study for longer than a semester, you need to officially apply for leave from study. You can apply for leave by submitting a request via the Ask Flinders web page as described one the page linked to. Enrolment Services will seek approval on your behalf and notify you via your University email account if your leave request is approved. 

The Statement of Assessment Methods (SAM) is a document that outlines learning outcomes, expected student workload, assessment procedures, attendance requirements, reading requirements, laboratory involvement and other requirements of students for a given topic. A SAM is a negotiated contract between lecturers and students and needs to be available no later than the first week of the semester.