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1.1 This policy provides for the appointment of an independent arbiter for the review of final decisions under the Student Appeals Policy or Student Complaints Policy, where students have exhausted all internal avenues of review or appeal and no external avenue exists.

2.1 This policy applies to situations where:

  1. a student has exhausted all internal avenues of review or appeal under the Student Appeals Policy- and the Student Complaints Policy; and
  2. there is no external avenue of appeal, or complaint mechanism available to the student as legislated in the relevant State or Territory or at the Commonwealth level.

2.2 The Independent Reviewer is the final avenue of review in respect of internal appeals and complaints. The Independent Reviewer will:

  1. make determinations as to whether an error has occurred and request that the University reconsider or change an academic or administrative decision;
  2. propose remedies to resolve matters that have resulted in an appeal or complaint; and
  3. make observations on the University’s processes and/or recommendations to the University for improvement (if applicable).

2.3 The Independent Reviewer will not make a decision on the academic merit of a student’s mark or grade for an assessment.

2.4 The Commonwealth Ombudsman has jurisdiction over matters relating to ACU’s international students, excluding complaints about the quality of the education provider, under the Ombudsman Act 1976.


3.1 The Independent Reviewer will be appointed:

  1. by the Chair, Audit and Risk Committee on the recommendation of the Corporation Secretary for a 3-year term; and;
  2. is eligible for reappointment where the successive terms would not exceed a period of 9 years.

3.2 The Independent Reviewer will be remunerated in return for services rendered to the University under this Policy in accordance with a separate agreement entered into between the University and the Independent Reviewer.

3.3 Where the Independent Reviewer is unavailable for a period of more than 20 working days, the Corporation Secretary will appoint an acting Independent Reviewer.


4.1 Unless the Vice-Chancellor otherwise directs, a student may continue in their program of study:

  1. while a final decision is pending on their request for an independent review lodged under this policy; or
  2. while a final decision is pending on their complaint lodged with the Commonwealth Ombudsman; or
  3. where an external jurisdiction has made a legally binding order staying the implementation of a decision.

4.2 The Executive Dean may prevent a student from enrolling in particular units until the final decision of the Independent Reviewer, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the external jurisdiction is notified to the student.

4.3 Nothing in this policy affects the right of a student to access any other appeal/complaint mechanism or legal right available to them as legislated in the relevant State or Territory or at the Commonwealth level.

4.4 There is no fee to lodge a request for review of an appeal or complaint with the Independent Reviewer.

Date Major, Minor or Editorial Description of Revision(s)
30 November 2016 Minor Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 compliance review and process consultation amendments
9 December 2019 Major Policy and role retitled and conditions for appointment included. Procedural updates including changes to time limit, and acknowledgement/ notification.
4 February 2021 Minor Amendments to Procedure following report from the Independent Reviewer in Oct 2020. Amendments include ability for Academic Registrar to make the procedural assessment as to whether internal avenues of appeal of complaint have been exhausted.

9 May

Minor  Amendments arising from the cyclical review under the Policy Development and Review Policy. The review was bought forward to 2023 following the reviews of the Student Complaints Procedure and the Student Appeals Procedure.

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