The UASU is proud to unveil their newest research, a study on undergraduate students’ perceptions of their rights and responsibilities at the University of Alberta. The UASU is also pleased to announce a new resource to help inform students of their rights and responsibilities.

Students have a variety of rights and responsibilities at the University of Alberta. They have fundamental rights and responsibilities that are outlined in the Constitution and in other legislation; they have academic rights and responsibilities that relate to academic accommodations and academic integrity; and they have procedural rights and responsibilities, which are afforded to students who are accused of breaking university policy or who file a complaint against another member of the university community. These rights and responsibilities are spread out across several university policies and are often difficult for students to find.

Earlier this year, The UASU Department of Research and Political Affairs distributed a survey to undergraduate students that aimed to collect data on how well students understand their rights. The survey also asked students who had gone through discipline or complaints processes how well their rights were communicated to them. The study found that:

  • A majority of students (58%) don’t know very much or don’t know anything at all about their rights and responsibilities as students.

  • Although students tend to be aware of policy documents like the Code of Student Behaviour and the Grading Policy, less than half of all students know where to find information on their academic rights, and only a third know where to find their procedural rights. Only 18% of students said that information about their rights is easy to find.

  • 60% of students do not know where to find information on how to appeal disciplinary action taken against them.

  • Less than half of students who went through disciplinary proceedings felt that they were educated on their rights and responsibilities. Of the students who filed complaints, over a third said that it was difficult to find information on the complaints process.

  • When students who had gone through disciplinary processes were asked what resources would have helped them, the top two responses were 1) more online resources and 2) better education of the disciplinary processes and their responsibilities under the COSB.

The report issued 3 recommendations:

  1. To reduce the gap in knowledge students have of their rights and responsibilities.

  2. To provide easily accessible information on rights and responsibilities, particularly on students rights and responsibilities when they go through disciplinary processes,

  3. That the Students’ Union ought to take a leading role in educating students by:

    1. Equipping infolink and the main Students’ Union office with the tools to help students who approach them with information;

    2. Taking a proactive approach to education students on their rights at the beginning of the school year and during targeted awareness weeks (such as educating students’ rights outlined in the Sexual Violence Policy during Sexual Assault Awareness Week);

    3. Collaborating with the University of Alberta to develop more effective rights education strategies;

    4. Collaborating with the University of Alberta to create a single, consolidated document that outlines students’ rights and responsibilities.

To start bridging the gap students have in their understanding of their rights and responsibilities, the UASU has launched a new page on their website regarding Students’ Rights. There, students can read up on their academic and procedural rights, and read the full study on undergraduates’ understanding of their rights.

The UASU is proud to work to protect and promote students’ rights at the University of Alberta, and it looks forward to using this research to bolster its advocacy to the University.