Petitions

Guide to Petitions

What is a Petition?

A petition is a request for an exemption from a rule, regulation or deadline of the university, as set out in the U of T Mississauga Academic Calendar or Registration Guide.  All petitions are considered in confidence by or on behalf of the Committee on Standing.

Rules, regulations and deadlines are required to manage registration, assessment and records for a large, diverse student population. They are posted in the Academic Calendar (Petitions, Appeals, Deferrals section). Students are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations. The university applies these rules and regulations fairly and equitably to all students.

U of T Mississauga acknowledges that, from time to time, students encounter unforeseen and uncontrollable situations that can severely interfere with their capacity to fulfill their academic obligations. Through the petition procedure students may seek a remedy for the academic consequences that may result from such situations.

Matters involving term work, such as the organization of a course, grading practices or the conduct of an instructor fall under the authority of the department offering the course and should be raised with the instructor or the departmental office.

Advising

Students who encounter uncontrollable situations — for example, illness or overwhelming domestic difficulties — should seek academic advising at an early stage. They should not hesitate to seek clarification about any of the rules and regulations in the Academic Calendar from an academic advisor in the Office of the Registrar or from their academic department advisor.  Advisors are available to assist in clarifying and interpreting the rules and regulations and guiding students with respect to petitions procedures.

Filing a Petition

To file a petition, students should:

  • Meet with an academic advisor at the Office of the Registrar.
  • Complete an online petition form
  • Write a clear and concise statement (no longer than two pages) stating the reasons why compliance with the rule, regulation or deadline is/was not possible, or why special consideration is being requested.
  • Submit supporting documentation within one week of online petition submission (or within 72 hours of online petition submission for a deferred examination).

Before submission of petition requests students should ensure they have fulfilled all of the requirements listed on the online petition checklists. The petition checklists were developed to assist students in submitting complete and comprehensive petitions for faster consideration.

Petition Deadlines

Petitions should be filed with the Office of the Registrar in accordance with the deadlines listed below (see Types of Petitions section).  If a petition or supporting documentation is submitted past the deadline, students are expected to explain the extenuating circumstances that caused the lateness in order to ensure that the petition will be considered.

All supporting documentation should be submitted to the Office of the Registrar immediately for the processing of petition requests. Delays in submitting documentation will lengthen the response time for petition decisions.

Confidentiality

All student records, including your petition request and submitted documentation are confidential. The university has a strict policy on this. Only those staff members who have access to relevant portions of an official student academic record for purposes related to that staff member’s duties will have access to petition documents.

If your reason for submitting a petition involves extremely personal and sensitive circumstances, it is strongly recommended that you seek academic advising to discuss how to present your situation in writing and the appropriate documentation to corroborate your request.

Academic Department Consultation

Petition staff members may need to consult with instructors or academic department staff to clarify the particulars of a student petition prior to a decision being reached. Petitions requiring information about the grading scheme, student performance, or a recommendation from the department are referred to the academic department undergraduate advisor.

A petition may also be referred to the department to obtain information about the student’s progress or to confirm statements the student may have made about advice given or about a sequence of events involving departmental staff. Although the support of instructors and departments is considered in the petition review, it does not guarantee the approval of the student’s request. The final petition decision still rests with petition staff by or on behalf of the Committee on Standing.

Types of Petitions

Extension of Time Beyond End of Term

Deadline: The last day of the regular final examination period.

Term work special consideration requests are handled by the course instructor or academic department advisor. Students should follow the missed term work policies in their course syllabus. Instructors have the authority to grant extensions of time for term work that will be completed up to the end of term (the last day of the regular final examination period). However, instructors are under no obligation to grant such requests for extensions if they judge there are insufficient grounds. When term work is not completed by the end of term or if a department refuses a request for an extension by the end of term, then students may consider submitting a petition for an extension of time beyond end of term.

The student must consult the instructor about a proposed deadline to submit the course work and is expected to continue to work on assignment(s) while awaiting the decision.

Matters involving term work such as the organization of a course, grading practices or the conduct of an instructor are not petitionable. These matters fall under the authority of the department offering the course and should be raised with the instructor or the departmental office.

Deferred Examinations

Deadline: Within 72 hours of the missed final examination.

Petitions to defer final examinations must be filed online and supporting documentation submitted within 72 hours of the missed exam. Only the Verification of Student Illness or Injury form will be accepted in support of petitions that cite illness as the reason for missing a final exam. Documentation submitted for missed final examinations must show that the physician was consulted on the day of the missed examination or immediately after (i.e., the next day). If the examination has been missed due to non-medical reasons, students should refer to the Supporting Documentation section for examples of acceptable supporting documentation for an exam deferral petition.

Students are also required to declare their absence on ACORN on the day of the examination (or the day after at the latest). Note that there is a fee for each deferred examination petition approved. Students cannot re-write an examination that they have already attempted.

Late Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty

Deadline: Six months after the end of the academic session when the course was taken.

Students requesting late withdrawal by petition must show, through strong supporting documentation, that they were unable to complete the course due to extenuating circumstances beyond their control. This type of late withdrawal differs from a  Late Withdrawal after the Drop Date (LWD) policy, as outlined at in the Academic Calendar. Exceptions to the submission deadline may only be made if a student can demonstrate, through documentation, that extenuating circumstances prevented them from submitting the petition by the deadline (e.g., being mentally or physical incapacitated). Late withdrawal petitions are not granted if the student has completed the course (i.e., written the final examination or completed the final major assignment/test in courses without a final exam). Students who have been sanctioned for committing an academic offence in a course are not permitted to request late withdrawal without academic penalty (WDR) from a course. Please note that when late withdrawal without academic penalty is granted, a notation of 'WDR'  is placed on the academic record in lieu of a course grade.

Course Overload

Deadline: Before registration and no later than the first day of classes in that term.

A course overload request may be submitted if a student wishes to enrol in:

  1. more than 2.0 credits in the Summer session,
  2. more than 6.0 credits in the Fall/Winter session or
  3. the sessional limit but exceed the term limit (1.0 credit per term in the Summer session or 3.0 credits per term in in the Fall/Winter session).

Course overloads will only be considered under the following circumstances:

  • for students graduating in November (Summer session overload) or June (Fall/Winter term(s) overload) – a minimum CGPA of 1.85 is required;
  • for students not graduating in the next ceremony – a minimum CGPA of 2.70 is required with mitigating reasons for requesting a course overload.

Under no other circumstances will course overloads be considered.

Lift of Suspension or Early Return from Suspension

Deadline: Well in advance of the start of term in which the student wishes to resume studies.

See the Academic Calendar for an explanation of academic status rules. Suspension is not intended to be punitive, rather it is necessary for some students to take a break to sort out the financial, personal and/or medical issues that prevented them from being successful. Students on suspension are encouraged to utilize the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre to create an academic plan to ensure a successful return after the suspension has ended.

Students who are experiencing ongoing medical, personal or domestic issues are strongly encouraged to seek assistance with the Health & Counselling Centre. If extenuating circumstances have prevented a student from meeting their academic obligations, supporting documentation, which states this, should be submitted for a suspension lift petition. It is recommended that students, in their online petition statement, detail what unforeseen events lead to their academic difficulties, and outline the steps taken or being taken by them to attain academic success in resuming their undergraduate studies.

Exception to Degree/Distribution Requirements

Deadline: Well in advance of the session in which the student intends to graduate.

Students are required to complete the distribution, degree and program requirements outlined in the Academic Calendar.Students who submit petitions for an exception to degree/distribution requirements should explain why their situation warrants special consideration compared to other students. Degree and distribution requirements are upheld for all UTM students to maintain fairness and the integrity of the degree. If students are considering submitting a petition for an exception to degree or distribution requirements, they are strongly encouraged to first speak to an academic advisor in the Office of the Registrar.

Other

Deadline: As early as possible.

The “other” category is to be used only if the petition does not fall under one of the petition categories listed above.

Supporting Documentation

It is the responsibility of the student to provide medical or other documentation in support of their petition. Any cost incurred in obtaining documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note) is the responsibility of the student. All documentation must be in its original form; photocopies and faxes are not acceptable.

If illness is cited as the reason for the petition, it must be accompanied by an original U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury form stating that the student was examined and diagnosed at the time of the illness and, in the case of exams, on the day of the exam or immediately after (i.e. the next day), and must indicate a serious degree of incapacitation on academic functioning (e.g. unable to attend classes, write a test/examination). A statement from a physician that merely confirms a report of illness and/or disability made by the student is not acceptable.

If support has been obtained from someone other than a practitioner listed on the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury form  then a Verification of Extenuating Circumstances form is acceptable.

Other documentation can include, but is not limited to: a letter of support from AccessAbility, automobile collision or police reports, a death certificate, and supporting documentation from employers, lawyers and other related personnel. When in doubt, students are encouraged to seek advice in the Office of the Registrar regarding appropriate documentation for their petition requests.

Academic Integrity

If it is determined that information provided for a petition is altered or misrepresented, a student can be held accountable under the University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters which outlines the behaviour that constitutes academic dishonesty and the processes for addressing academic offences. All suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be investigated following procedures outlined in the code. If students have questions or concerns about what constitutes appropriate academic behaviour, they are expected to seek out additional information on academic integrity from the Academic Integrity Office.

Please note that the Office of the Registrar verifies the authenticity of medical and non-medical supporting documents by contacting the service provider. Students who submit forged documentation are subject to severe academic penalties.

Response Time

Petition response time depends on the complexity of the petition, submission of supporting documentation, consultation with academic departments and time of the academic year. Most petitions will be answered within six weeks, but there may be delays if supporting documentation is insufficient and the Office of the Registrar is unable to reach the student for clarification.

Students are responsible for providing an accurate UTOR e-mail (@mail.utoronto.ca) address and telephone number in the online petition. The petition decision will be emailed to students, but is also available by logging back into the online petition system where the status will be posted. It is the student’s responsibility to read and understand the petition decision and its implications. Students may wish to seek academic advising once the decision is available.

Appeals

If a student’s initial petition request is denied, they may appeal (through the following step-wise processes). The provision of new information or additional supporting documentation is necessary in the appeal process and strengthens any case. A meeting with an academic advisor in the Office of the Registrar is recommended prior to submitting an appeal at any level. Appeals are handled in the following manner:

1) The first level of appeal is the Committee on Standing (COS).

Deadline: Within 90 days of the original petition decision.

If a student’s initial petition request is denied, they may appeal to the Committee on Standing. In their appeal, students are expected to present new information, not submitted within the initial petition request, along with their appeal statement. Appeals to COS must be submitted in hard copy format to the Office of the Registrar. Note that students do not appear at the COS meeting and, therefore, must present the most effective written appeal possible.

The UTM Committee on Standing is composed of faculty members from various departments within the university. In addition, representatives from the Office of the Registrar attend hearings in a non-voting capacity.

2) The second level of appeal is to the UTM Academic Appeals Subcommittee (AAS).

Deadline: Within 90 days of the COS appeal decision.

If a student’s appeal to Committee on Standing is denied, they may appeal to the Academic Appeals Subcommittee (AAS). (Faculty members on the AAS serve for three years; student members serve for one year. Members may be reappointed.) Students submitting an appeal to AAS should obtain the appropriate form from the AAS website.  The student making the appeal is present at the AAS meeting and can use the opportunity to convince the AAS that due to circumstances beyond their control, they should be exempt from an academic regulation or deadline.

3) The third and final level of appeal is the Academic Appeals Committee of the Academic Board of Governing Council.

Deadline: Within 90 days of the AAS appeal decision.

If a student’s appeal to the Academic Appeals Subcommittee is denied, they may appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee of Governing Council. This committee is normally chaired by a professor from the Faculty of Law, and the membership includes academics and students from various constituencies of the university. This is the final avenue of appeal within the University of Toronto. Students looking to file an appeal with this committee should submit a Notice of Appeal Form and carefully review the instructions outlined at the Academic Appeals of Governing Council website.

Last updated Nov. 7, 2016