Report #334

DATE: May 7, 2009
PARTIES: Ms. T. D. (the Student) v. the School of Graduate Studies


Hearing Date(s): April 22, 2009

Committee Members:
Professor L. Sossin (Chair)
Mr. Grant Gonzales (Student)
Professor Ellen Hodnett Mr. John Stewart
Professor Cindy Woodland

Secretary:
Ms Nancy Smart

Appearances:

For the Student Appellant:
Ms. T.D. (the Student)
Mr. Michael Hamilton (Downtown Legal Services)

For the School of Graduate Studies:
Mr. Robert Centa

School of Graduate Studies – appeal of a decision to revoke an offer of admission – material information withheld from admission application – full semester of classes completed – charge under the Code requested but not laid – Faculty decision was admissions decision – no jurisdiction to review admissions decisions – see Graduate Academic Appeals Board Terms of Reference, the Faculty’s Calendar and the Governing Council’s policy regarding appeals within academic divisions – admission irregularities provision of the Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs Application Service – Superior Court jurisdiction to quash University decision – see Mulligan v. Laurentian University – no bar to University reconsidering revocation decision – given delay in revocation of admission and availability of information reconsideration could be justified - appeal dismissed – recommendation that if revocation decision was not modified any fees paid for the completed semester should be returned and any record academic performance should be expunged

Appeal of a decision to revoke and cancel the Student’s offer of admission and/or registration in the Masters of Health Science Program. The Student had withheld material information from her admission application. The Student had been admitted, registered, and completed a full semester. The Faculty requested a charge be laid against the Student under the Code but no charge was laid. The decision to revoke the Student’s “admission and/or registration” was not imposed as a sanction under the Code and therefore, the Student could not appeal the decision under the Code. The Student sought the appeal on the grounds that the Graduate Academic Appeals Board did have jurisdiction to hear the appeal from the revocation decision, and that, irrespective of how the jurisdiction issue was decided, the Graduate Academic Appeals Board should have considered her prior pending appeal against her termination from the Program due to poor academic performance. The Committee found that the Graduate Academic Appeals Board did not err in its finding that the decision of the Faculty “revoking and cancelling” the Student’s “offer of admission and/or registration” was an admissions decision. The Committee considered whether the Graduate Academic Appeals Board and the Committee had a role in the accountability of the University for admission decisions. The Committee considered the Graduate Academic Appeals Board’s Terms of Reference, the Faculty’s Calendar and the Governing Council’s policy regarding appeals within academic divisions and found that the University had not conferred on the Graduate Academic Appeals Board or the Committee the jurisdiction to review an admissions decision. The Student claimed that by relying on the revocation of admission after she had completed a full semester, the University was seeking to terminate the Student in a fashion which deprived her of the procedural protections she would have been afforded had the University relied on its termination of the Student for her poor academic performance, or had the University pursued the allegations against the Student for violation of the Code. The basis for the University’s revocation of the Student’s admission was the admission irregularities provision of the Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs Application Service regarding, the terms and conditions of which the University claimed the Student had agreed to be bound by when she submitted her application through the service. ORPAS did not provide any appeal route for decisions taken by Universities using its application process. The Committee considered the availability of recourse for an aggrieved student and found that while no appeal route had been established from admissions decisions through internal mechanisms, the Superior Court has jurisdiction to quash a decision of the University, and remit the matter back to the University for a fresh decision or compel the University to take appropriate action, as confirmed in Mulligan v. Laurentian University. The Committee observed that pursuing remedies through a judicial review may be costlier and more complex than appeals through internal mechanisms. The Committee found that there was no internal impediments to the University exercising discretion either to proceed under the Code or to revoke admissions where the conduct underlying the revocation of admission could have been treated as an academic matter or as an academic offence. The Committee observed that there was no bar to the University making available an opportunity for a reconsideration of the revocation decision although such a reconsideration process would not lead to any remedies which would bind the University. The Committee observed that if the University did allow for a reconsideration of its revocation decision, it could also have the effect of reviving the appeal of the termination decision. The Committee observed that there may be advantages in approaching such revocations of admission on a case by case basis and that delay might be a relevant consideration in the exercise of such discretion. The Committee found that, given the delay in the revocation of admission and the fact that the University possessed the same information about the Student at the time of admission as it raised subsequently as grounds for the revocation of her admission, such a procedure could be justified. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that if the revocation decision was not modified, the University should return any fees paid by the Student for the semester she completed and expunge any record of the Student’s academic performance in the semester.