Committee on Academic Standing
What it is and how it works
The Committee on Academic Standing deals with academic situations that are not routine. Faculty and University regulations do not cover all possible situations, so the Committee takes care of those that fall outside the rules. Most of the cases we deal with are requests from students, although sometimes requests originate with academic staff or administrative personnel. The Committee is made up of representatives from all three groups. It operates on the principle of natural justice, tempered with compassion for human error and failing. In its work it must, however, ensure that the University is protected from abuse.
When a student submits a request to the Committee, this must be done on the yellow form available from the Student Affairs Office (Laird Hall). This should be submitted to the alice.cherestes [at] mcgill.ca (Chair of the Committee) along with a letter from the student explaining the reasons for the application. Depending on the nature of the request, it must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documents, such as a medical certificate, a letter from the course instructor, a letter from the academic advisor, etc.
Straightforward medical requests are handled by the Student Affairs Office and do not have to go to the Committee. Please see the Faculty Advisor, Laird Hall Room 106. A medical certificate must contain sufficient information and be verifiable: at least the student’s name, the physician's name and Quebec registration number, his or her place of business, the date of the consultation, the nature of the medical problem.
For some requests the documentation should be sent directly to the Chair of the Committee by the instructor or advisor. Instructors and advisors may send letters via email to alice.cherestes [at] mcgill.ca (Chair of the Committee) , but an “official” letter should be followed by a paper copy signed by the advisor to be included in the student’s file.
The Chair then prepares the case for presentation to the Committee on academic standing. In any request to the Committee it is the student's responsibility to justify the request adequately. The Committee approaches each case in a positive way, and attempts to find sufficient justification for the request in the evidence provided. The Committee is able to take into account a wide variety of information such as data on transcripts, indicators of performance at other institutions of learning, etc.
The Committee's decision will usually consist of one of four possibilities: a) it approves the request because it is adequately justified; b) it finds that the request is not adequately justified and the student is asked to supply more information (to expedite the procedure this may also be done during case preparation by the Chair); c) it does not approve the request because it is not adequately justified; or d) some other decision as needed to deal with the situation.
In practically all instances, after the case has been dealt with at a Committee meeting, the Chair informs the student of the Committee's decision (in writing) within several days, and the decision is then reported to faculty at one of its regular meetings. Normally, the Committee meets every two weeks and the decisions are reported at the regular monthly faculty meetings.