Faculty Classroom Resources (GUS)

Academic Grievance


An "academic grievance" is a claim by an enrolled student receiving academic credit for a course that a specific academic decision or action (such as the assignment of a final grade or academic dismissal of a student or other grade assignment) has violated published policies and procedures, or has been applied to the grievant in a manner different from that used for other students.

Additional information regarding relevant terms, resolution process steps, and formal Grievance appeal procedures can be found in the Academic Grievance Procedure for Students Policy 10-002.   

What is (and is NOT) considered an Academic Grievance?

  • Academic grievances will not deal with general student complaints.
  • An academic grievance must include a reference to a violation of a specific USF Policy, or an academic decision that was applied differently to the grievant than other students to be considered under this Policy.
  • Disagreement or issues with individual test grades, responses to exam questions or general disagreement with the academic discretion or professional judgment of instructors, will not be considered grounds for an academic grievance, except where they impact the final grade.
    • If a student has a concern on an individual assignment, and would like some formal consideration, the student should contact the instructor to discuss the issue and may submit the concern as a general complaint in writing to the instructor. If the student and instructor cannot resolve the complaint, the student may forward the complaint to the instructor’s supervisor and that supervisor shall review the complaint and provide a response to both the student and instructor. If the supervisor identifies a need for a review by another office or process, the supervisor may make an additional referral.
  • Dismissals based on University protocols such as failure to maintain GPA, probation for academic performance or other automatic administrative actions are not grievable.
  • Only the final grades assigned in a course, final actions or dismissals by the academic unit are grievable.

Step-by-Step Process for Addressing Academic Grievances

Please Note: For the purposes of this Policy, each step is afforded three (3) weeks as a standard time limit.

  • Students must first make a reasonable effort to resolve any academic grievance with the course instructor.
  • If the situation cannot be resolved or a meeting with the instructor is not feasible, the student must file a notification letter to both the department Chairperson/Director and Dean.
    • This concise written statement of must include specific reference to the following:
      • Published USF Policy, procedure or official published catalog and the manner in which it was allegedly violated;
      • A description of the manner in which the student was treated in a substantially inequitable manner and a statement indicating the remedy sought;
      • Supporting documentation of all claims in the grievance; and
      • The effort the student made to resolve the issue with the instructor.
  • The department Chairperson/Director must review the student's written statement to determine if the matter is an Academic Grievance (a specific Policy violated or a student treated differently than others) or if the matter is a complaint regarding the course or instructor.
    • If the Chairperson/Director determines that the matter is not an Academic Grievance, the Chairperson/Director will discuss the complaint with the student and/or the faculty member and must advise the Dean of the complaint and the recommended resolution if any. The Dean will then review the classification of the complaint as not subject to the Academic Grievance Process and advise the student and faculty member in writing of the Dean’s decision.
    • If the Chairperson/Director determines the matter is an Academic Grievance, the Chairperson shall provide a copy of the student’s statement to the instructor. The instructor may file a written response to the grievance and the Process will continue.
  • The department Chairperson/Director shall discuss the student’s statement with the student and the instructor to see if the grievance can be resolved. 
  • If the grievance cannot be resolved, the department Chair/Director shall notify both the student and the instructor, and will inform the student of their right to file a written request to move the grievance to a Formal Grievance Appeal.

Faculty may direct any questions related to the Academic Grievance Policy to CASAIGC@usf.edu.

Tips for Faculty Regarding the Academic Grievance Policy

Tip No. 1: Align your syllabus with USF Policy and revise areas of confusion after each term.  Ask your colleagues to review your syllabus.

Tip No. 2: Be explicit about grading practices (both qualitative and quantitative).

Tip No. 3: Meet with students to discuss their concerns and send a follow-up email confirming key points from your discussion.

Tip No. 4: Assume that any written communication (email or hard copy) is public record.  Stick to the facts and don't respond defensively.

Academic Grievance Review and Reporting Process for Departments

Academic Grievance Process for Departments

Faculty may direct any questions related to the Academic Grievance Policy to CASAIGC@usf.edu