Student Bill of Rights
A Student Bill of Rights or Charter of Student Rights and Freedoms is a document adopted by a student group, university or college or government at a local, state or national level. It outlines a population's basic beliefs regarding student rights. These statements of belief are often the foundation for future legislative efforts or collaborative efforts to create joint statements between organizations. The European Student Union, for example, uses their Student Rights Charter when lobbying for student rights in the European Union Higher Education Area as a document representing the student will. The historic National Student Association in the United States used their Student Bill of Rights to help create dialogue between the American Association of University Professors and to initiate the creation of a joint statement on student rights. This collaborative effort gave credence to the demands of students and helped normalize student rights on campuses across North America. While the United States Student Association does not have a student bill of rights of its own, it upholds the 1947 student bill of rights put forth by the National Student Association.
These documents tend to do several things. They can be statements of belief, policy or law. When put forth by a student organization or third party organization they tend to be statements of belief because these organizations do not often have the ability to enforce their beliefs. Even though they are not legally binding they are important because they help policy and law makers understand what students expect and believe to be ethical treatment. At the institutional level they tend to be policy statements. These are legally binding as a promise from the institution to the students who attend and have been found in court to be considered to be part of the educational contract. At the state or federal level student rights documents are legal and binding upon either the state or the country.
At any level these documents provide students with an understanding of their civil or legal rights which are already contained in legislation. These include rights pertinent to all citizens and also to students in the educational setting and provide procedural rights to inform students how institutions should be respecting their legal rights. When used as a statement of belief, however, they often include rights an organization feels students should have and the procedural rights institutions must follow to ensure these rights are fulfilled. There are currently a number of student petitions calling for the creation of national student bills in various countries. While there have been some attempts to create subject specific student bills in the United States, like the Academic Bill of Rights, these have not been successful due primarily for demand for a document which is wider in scope and deals with students constitutional, civil, contractual and consumer rights.
North American Student Bills
United States of America
American National Student Bills
In the United States there have been several national student bill of rights drafted by student organizations including the historic National Student Association and the American Association of University Professors and other non-governmantal organizations but as yet none have been legally institutionalized.
National Student Association (NSA)
In 1947 the National Student Association NSA in the United States adopted a student bill of rights. The text of this document is not easily accessible. In 1967, however, the NSA put forth a joint statement on the rights and freedoms of students with the American Association of University Professors AAUP (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities). This statement was endorsed by a number of professional organizations. This document included the following rights:
- Exercise of rights of citizenship
- Freedom of association
- Right to due process
Speech and Association Rights
- Student participation in institutional government
- Student publications
Due Process Rights
- Standards for investigation of student conduct
- Investigation of student conduct
- Hearings for student conduct
- Protection of freedom of inquiry and expression
- Protection from improper academic evaluation
- Protection from improper student information disclosure
United States Student Association
The United States Student Association does not have an official student bill of rights. The USSA was formed when the historic NSA merged with the National Student Lobby NSL in 1978. They did not officially adopt the student bill of rights put forth in 1947. They text of this document is not on their website and cannot easily be found with a search of the internet.
2003 Academic Bill of Rights --Failed
In 2003, Georgia Congressman Kingston proposed the first national student bill of rights, House Bill #318. This bill, which was rejected in congress, was not an all encompassing student bill of rights but was narrowly defined to address academic freedom. Nevertheless, it was the first attempt at the creation of national legislation. The congressman found that "at almost every American university, conservative professors are drastically outnumbered." This bill was intended to secure the intellectual freedom of students and faculty. It did not address whether teachers would have the freedom to determine all course goals, curriculum, assignments, grading schemes and course timeline. These issues are of major importance because students in Europe are calling for rights which protect students from teachers having complete academic freedom in the classroom and which regulate them to ensure students have minimum educational quality standards.
Which States have a Student Bill of Rights?
UP = Unproceduralized / P = Proceduralized (Proceduralized means there are bylaws instructing schools how to interpret and institute these laws)
|US State|| State Wide DOE
Student Rights Document
|K-12 or 12+||Fed. Constitutional Rights applied to Education||Fed. Civil Rights specifically regarding Education||Fed. Contract Rights applied to Education||Fed. Consumer Rights applied to Education|
Athlete's Bill of Rights Deaf Children's Bill of Rights
Deaf Child Bill of Rights
Deaf Child's Bill of Rights
|Hawaii||Y||K-12, 12+?||Y (UP)||Y (few)||N||N|
Special Ed. Parent Rights Guide
Patient Bill of Rights (Uni hospitals)
Inc only one federal and one state right
American Institutional Student Bills
In the United States individual institutions often have their own Student Bill of Rights, Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Code of Rights and Responsibilities. In elementary and secondary education these codes are often drafted by school board officials with perhaps the input of parent or parent teacher associations. In post secondary institutions these are often drafted by the academic senate with the contribution of student representatives. This process often includes varying degrees of student input from student surveys to no student voice and the academic senate may have as much as 50% student representation or as little as 0% student representation depending on the structure of the institution.
Which Universities have a Student Bill of Rights?
UP = Unproceduralized / P = Proceduralized (Proceduralized means the school has included in the document how it will institute these laws)
|University||Comprehensive Student Rights Document||Fed. Constitutional Rights applied to Ed.||Fed. Civil Rights specifically regarding Ed.||Fed. Contract Rights applied to Ed.||Fed. Consumer Rights applied to Ed.||Additional institutional rights||Major rights missing||Major bonuses|
|University of Wisconsin||Y Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities||Y||Y||N||N||Y||Classroom, speech, due process, fiduciary, privacy rights||Syllabus, grading, advising, information rights|
Canadian Federation of Students
The Canadian Federation of Students has yet to accept a student bill or rights, code of rights and responsibilities or a charter of rights and freedoms. The Canadian Encyclopedia, which details issues of Canadian life and governance, however, states that in Canada "Basically 2 sorts of rights apply to students: substantive rights - the actual rights that students should enjoy - and procedural rights - methods by which students claim their rights. This article is concerned with students in public institutions, although those in private schools can claim rights under the common law and provincial education Acts."
European Student Bills
European Student Union
In 2008 the European Student Union adopted a Student Rights Charter which is in essence their platform. This document includes those rights and freedoms which members of the European student Union are lobbying for in their own countries. Romania currently has the strongest student rights legislation in the European Union and this is in part to do with the efforts of the European Student Union to press for legislation. The 2008 ESU Student Rights Charter includes the following rights:
Access to Higher Education
- Everyone has the right to an inclusive, high quality education free of charge.
- Everyone has the right to access correct information, in a transparent manner, on the content, outcome and requirements of an educational programme.
- Everyone has the right to free access to adequate means of support in order to take up, progress through and complete their educational programme.
- All students have the right to an education that is inclusive.
- All students have the right to have their backgrounds and experiences recognised as an important part of educational quality and to be able to make use of them.
- All students have the right to an education imbued with different equality perspectives that improve the quality of education.
- All students have the right to progress between cycles.
- Everyone has the right to adequate counselling about their options before they choose a study programme.
- All students have the right to apply to any institution without administrative, financial or physical restrictions.
- All students have the right to organise themselves freely in legally recognised entities. Students must not suffer academic, financial or legal consequences stemming from such involvement.
- All students have the right to co-governance in all decision making bodies and fora relevant to their education directly or through democratic representation.
- Students have the right to be informed about all higher education affairs in a transparent manner.
- All students have the right to have their opinion considered as that of a stakeholder on equal footing in higher education.
- All students have the right to freely express themselves and this should not be limited to academic matters.
Extracurricular Aspect of Study
- All students have the right to adequate counselling and support on their wellbeing; on how to successfully complete their education; and on how to prepare themselves for integration into the labour market.
- All students have the right to adequate social support that meets their needs on an individual basis.
- All students have the right to financial independence.
- All students have the right to a free and fair appeal against any act which they feel to be discriminatory.
- All students have the right to a space for social interaction.
- All students have the right to specific social support related to their educational mobility.
Curricular Aspect of Study
- All students have the right to be evaluated or graded solely on academic performance including extra-curricular activities which are specifically counted as part of their academic programme.
- All students have the right to a free and fair appeal against any decision related to their studies.
- All students have the right to a flexible study program.
- All students have the right to teaching and learning environments that support and encourage the development of autonomous learning, critical thinking and personal growth.
- All students have the right to teaching and evaluation methods suitable to their mode of education.
- All students have the right to academic freedom of thought; and the freedom to challenge the knowledge that exists today.
- All students have the right to fair recognition of comparable qualifications.
- All students have the right to a continuously reviewed and up-to-date programme.
- All students have the right to participate as equal partners in the continuous assessment and improvement of their educational programmes.
- All students have the right to free access to comprehensive and objective information on the quality of the programme and institution in which they wish to study or are already studying.
- All students have the right to have the grading of their academic work challenged by an external examiner
European National Country Level Student Bills
Romania is the country which has the greatest student rights legislation currently in place. In 2010 the National Alliance of student organizations in Romania, which is also part of the European Student Union, and the Romanian Students' Union(USR) worked with the Romanian National Government to bring into law the Romanian National Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. This document provides Romanian students with roughly a hundred which theoretical rights and procedural rights necessary to ensure theoretical rights are fulfilled. This document includes the following rights:
Educational Package Rights
- Right to a quality education
- Right to a student centered educational environment
- Right to opportunities to develop personally
- Right to opportunities to develop socially
- Right to opportunities to acquire skills required to find and retain employment
- Right to an educational contract
- Right to equal treatment among equal students
- Right to equity where some students are at an educational disadvantage
- Right to information information transparency and accessibility
- Right to educational quality standards which are assessed and accountable
- Right to student involvement in institutional decision-making
- Right to at least one free copy of the student record including diplomas, certificates and transcripts
- Right to information on all student rights and responsibilities
- Right to grievance reporting, hearing and appeals processes
- Right to be provided educational materials while attending institutions of higher education
- Right to housing accommodations, unless a student studies in their place of residence
- Right to transportation while attending institutions of higher education
- Right to meals while attending institutions of higher education
- Right to medical coverage while attending institutions of higher education
- Right to postpone and resume studies
- Right to transfer from one university to another
- Right to the protection of student information
- Right to an eight-hour school day
- Right to a continuous contract during a period of enrollment, without a change in degree requirements
- Right to retain property and copyright for results of research, artistic creation and innovation unless contracts exist
- Right to participate in programs and services in accordance with advertized program objectives
- Right to be evaluated in accordance with advertized curriculum evaluation criteria
- Right to be evaluated with criteria in line with advertized course objectives
- Right to equitable recruitment, admissions, readmissions, testing, education, instruction and assessment
- Right to access social mobility programs and resources
- Right to subsidized tuition for students from historically marginalized and low socio-economic backgrounds
- Right to free educational and professional guidance, counseling, tutoring and monitoring for subsidized students
- Right to the availability of academic, professional psychological and social counseling with educational objectives
- Right to study in one’s native language or a language of international communication if offered
- Right to exam accommodations for certified temporary and permanent medical conditions
- Right to have registration periods of at least on working week after the posting of scholarships or programs
- Right to flexible learning paths and a minimum number of optional courses
- Right to be provided free medical assistance
- Right to a 50% + discount on public transportation
- Right to a 75% discount for access to events organized by public institutions
- Right to subsidies for housing accommodations for low income or historically marginalized backgrounds
Accountability & Quality Assurance Rights
- Right to a quality education (with quality standards in place)
- Right to quality standards for teachers and course resources for use in quality assurance and evaluation
- Right to quality standards for support resources for use in quality assurance and evaluation
- Right to the availability of information related to stated educational objectives
- Right to participate in evaluation of teachers, courses, seminars, programs, practicums, internships, residencies
- Right to access teacher, course, seminar, program, practicum, internship, residency evaluations as public info
- Right to have evaluations used for assessment of quality and objective achievement
- Right to know how tuition, fees and other charges are determined or justified
- Right to be informed about the number, type and amount of each fee charged
- Right to institutional consultation with student organizations on issues in higher education
- Right to representative participation in university executive and deliberative bodies
- Right to 25%+ representative participation in the university senate and faculty council
- Right to representative participation in faculty counsels and university senates or governance structures
- Right to representative participation in management of social services, accommodations and scholarships
- Right to representatives participation in government departments involving students
- Right to representative participation in choosing and appointing an institutional president or head
- Right to student representative elections free of interference from instructors and administrators
- Right to serve as a student representative for up to four years regardless of academic performance or attendance
- Right to be informed and consulted by student representatives on matters in institutional governance
- Right for student organizations to develop an annual report on institutional compliance with this code
- Right to an annual response to the compliance report including proposed improvements and a timeline
Due Process Rights
- Right to submit grievances and expect recourse for identity theft
- Right to submit grievances and expect recourse for abuse of power
- Right to submit grievances and expect recourse for arbitrary and capricious decision making
- Right to appeal grades before a committee. The instructor who issued the grade may not sit on this committee.
- Right to request a review of complaints by specialized bodies
- Right to be present during appeal hearings
- Right to protection from retribution when making a complaint (whistle blower protections)
- Right to have all written or online requests registered
- Right to have all written and online requests answered
Information Accessibility Rights
- Right to freely access all educational materials available in university libraries or institutional websites
- Right to receive, upon admissions, a Student Guide containing information on:
- student rights and responsibilities
- materials and services provided by the university
- evaluation methods
- justification and methods used to establish fees
- university and faculty facilities
- details about student organizations
- ways of accessing scholarships and other financial facilities
- Right to receive a five page syllabus within the first two weeks of the semester containing:
- course objectives
- general competences or outcomes students will achieve
- course timeline of readings and assignments
- evaluation and examination methods
- Right to adherence to the syllabus unless the teacher has the students agreement
- Right to receive the syllabus in either an electronic format or a physical copy
- Right to information on the scale used for evaluation of skills
- Right to institutional policies which inform students of their rights
- Right to access regulations, decisions, meeting minutes and any other legal documents at the institution
- Right to receive a copy of their diploma, thesis, score and details about the score??
- Right to information on criteria and methods used to identify and evaluate processional practice
- Right to information on criteria used to evaluate the quality of academic classes and programs
Asian Student Bills
It does not seem that Asia has any national or continental student rights bills in place.
African Student Bills
It does not seem that Africa has any national or continental student rights bills in place.
South & Central American Student Bills
It does not seem that South or Central America has any national or continental student rights bills in place.
- Academic Bill of Rights
- European Students' Union
- Leonard Law
- National Youth Rights Association
- Student rights
- Student activism
- Students' union
- Student voice
- The Freechild Project
- Youth rights
- European Student Union
- American Association of University Professors
- United States Student Association http://www.usstudents.org/about/history/
- Kaplan and Lee (2011)
- Occupy Education http://www.facebook.com/occupycollege
- Model Student Classroom Bill of Rights
- Occupy Education http://www.facebook.com/occupycollege
- navigatehighered.com : Student rights info., advocacy and student union resources http://www.navigatehighered.com
- European Students' Union http://www.esu-online.org/news/article/6064/97/
- Romanian Student bill of Rights http://www.upt.ro/administrare/dgac1/file/2012-2013/studenti/Code_of_Student_Rights_and_Responsibilities.pdf