Grievance Policy and Procedure for Graduate, Professional Students
To ensure that students understand how to pursue a grievance at the University of Houston, students are encouraged to seek clarification regarding procedures and information for individual grievance policies through their respective college before initiating a grievance. Please refer to the college Web site grievance policy links below. If your respective college does not have an additional link, refer to the university policy below.
Hines College of Architecture and Design
College of the Arts
Bauer College of Business
College of Education
Cullen College of Engineering
Grievance Policy: Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
University of Houston Law Center
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics
College of Nursing
College of Optometry
College of Pharmacy (Professional Program)
College of Pharmacy (Graduate Programs)
Graduate College of Social Work
College of Technology
The following university-wide policy and procedure, for graduate, professional students, apply to the redress of grievances concerning academic and instructional matters and other issues for which there are no other existing grievance procedures.
- Every effort shall be made by the graduate/professional student and the members involved to settle their differences amicably and informally to redress grievance. If appropriate or necessary, the department chair shall participate in this informal effort to resolve the grievance. Students in colleges and schools where graduate programs are not administered by a department shall have an alternative person (i.e. Associate Dean, program director or an appropriate designee) to resolve the grievance.
- In the event that an informal resolution is not possible, the graduate/professional student may petition the department chair or the alternative (Associate Dean, program director or an appropriate designee) by filing a formal written complaint within 10 working days after the decision is mutually made that the grievance cannot be settled informally. The letter should provide details regarding the complaint and redress sought. After receipt of the letter, the department chair or alternative must respond in writing within the time specified according to the department’s or program’s established procedures for dealing with such matters.
- In the event that either the grievant or the respondent is unsatisfied with the outcome of the departmental level process or alternative (items 1 and 2 above), that party may petition the dean of the college against which the grievance is held or the dean’s designee by filing a formal written petition. The dean of the college must respond in writing within the specified time according to the college’s established procedures for dealing with such matters. The dean’s response must include an explanation for his/her decision.
- If either the grievant or the respondent is unsatisfied with the outcome of the college level process, that party may file an appeal seeking university level review which is under the purview of the Vice Provost/Dean of The Graduate School. This appeal must be in writing explaining the party’s position, and filed with the Graduate School within 30 calendar days of the final disposition at the college level. The appeal may designate as respondents any of the following persons: (i) the college dean or designee who issued the decision at the college level; (ii) the departmental chair who issued the department’s decision or the alternative; and (iii) the original faculty member or committee members giving rise to the grievance. In the absence of a designation, only the faculty member or committee members will be respondents. The appeal must include a concise statement of the outcome desired by the appellant.
Review at the university appeal level shall be for the purpose of determining:
- Whether the appealing party was given a reasonable opportunity to be heard at the departmental and college levels and
- whether the college’s decision was reasonably reached. Procedural violations which would not affect the substantive result or are not substantially prejudicial to either party are not grounds for appeal.
Upon receiving a written appeal, the Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School will review the reports from the department and college grievance processes and will, within 10 working days, determine whether to:
- return the grievance to the department or college for reconsideration,
- reject the appeal, or
- refer the appeal to a committee for review.
If the dean decides to refer the appeal to a committee, the dean will notify the chairperson of the Graduate and Professional Studies Committee (GPSC) of the Faculty Senate, who will appoint a Graduate/Professional Student Grievance Committee (GPSGC) within 10 working days of receiving such notification.
The GPSGC will review the appeal file and may also request other documents as it sees fit. Within 30 calendar days of being formed, the GPSGC should schedule an appeal hearing with the interested parties. This deadline may be extended at the GPSGC’s discretion upon written request of a party or upon stipulation of all parties. No record of the hearing will be required and the deliberations will be completed with reasonable speed. If a recording is made (at the discretion of the committee), it should be made available to all parties. Counsel for each of the parties involved may be present with that person, but will not be allowed to speak at the hearing. Expert resources should be available to the committee in an advisory capacity as needed.
The GPSGC will report its recommendations in writing to the Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School within 10 working days of the hearing. The Vice Provost/Dean will make a final decision within 10 working days following their receipt. The Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School will forward a copy & this decision in writing to the parties, to the dean of the college in the event he/she is not a party, and to the GPSGC.
Any party may file, within 10 working days of notification, a written appeal of the decision to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. The Provost may conduct a plenary review. The Provost’s decision, presented within 30 working days, will be final.
- A graduate or professional student with a pending grievance regarding academic issues, if employed in a graduate student appointment, will retain privileges and salary, subject to a review of the individual situation by the department or college.
*In cases where the college does not have departments, the college level grievance policy and procedure replaces that of the department or program.
Guidelines for GPSGC Formation & Grievance Hearings
A GPSGC will consist of two graduate/professional students and three faculty members, none of whom will be from any respondent’s department or program or from the department or program in which the grievant is enrolled. The faculty members will be appointed by the chair of GPSC on an ad hoc basis. The chair of GPSC will also select the student members from a pool of graduate students provided by each of the colleges. The chair of the committee will be elected by the committee members. All members of the committee will have voting privileges.
- The GPSGC may set time limits for each party to present its position.
- The GPSGC may request a representative from the university’s General Counsel’s office to attend as an observer.
- Notification of the hearing schedule to all parties must be done in writing. The hearing schedule may be revised by the chairperson in her discretion, upon motion of a party or on the committee’s own motion.
- Any information provided to the GPSGC by a party will be provided by that party to all other parties prior to or simultaneously with providing it to the GPSGC.