Academic Appeals

A student can raise an academic appeal with the Proctors within 20 working days of the date of the decision they are challenging under the University Academic Appeals Procedure

An academic appeal is an appeal against the decision of an academic body (e.g. boards of examiners, transfer and confirmation decisions etc.) in terms of whether the procedures were followed properly, errors were made or the process was biased in some way. There is no right of appeal over matters of academic judgement – i.e. decisions that can only be made by applying an academic expert opinion. Therefore a student cannot appeal because they disagree with the examiners’ assessment of how well they met the assessment criteria.

The student-facing site provides further information available for students who wish to make an academic appeal.  

The University Academic Appeal procedure is divided into three parts: stage 1 is a local resolution managed where the decision was made, stage 2 is consideration by the Proctor's, and stage 3 is a review of the Proctor's decision by a Review panel member. Both stage 2 and stage 3 are managed by the Proctors' Office.

It is expected that each stage of the process should be exhausted before moving on to the next stage; however if a student is unable to complete stage 1 of the procedure within the 20 working days they should submit their academic appeal to the Proctors’ Office and explain why they have not completed the stage 1. At that time the Proctors’ Office will either accept the academic appeal or extend the timeframe to enable stage 1 to be completed.

Please note: any concerns about teaching and supervision should be pursued under the University Student Complaints Procedure; If a student's complaint relates to any other matter, they need to make their complaint under one of the other University or college complaints procedures.

In many cases the concern a student has over the decision made by the academic body can be resolved with an immediate explanation as to the assessment process or actions taken during an Exam Board meeting. Stage 1 of the academic appeal procedure is therefore in place in order to facilitate this.

The students must not raise queries directly with the examiners. However they can approach their departmental administrator, subject or college tutor, course director, director of studies or supervisor as appropriate. When a student contacts one of the aforementioned individuals factual information can be shared, including:

  • Confirming that all marks/results were taken into consideration
  • How the course conventions were applied when considering the student's results
  • How their MCE was considered by the Board of Examiners
  • Explanation as to what is a borderline candidate and whether they met the criteria
  • Explanation as to why the student did not meet the criteria to be awarded a higher classification

 

Students are expected to raise an academic appeal as soon as possible after they have received the decision which they wish to appeal. This is to ensure that it can be investigated effectively and that any action can be implemented as quickly as possible to set things right. There isn’t a time limit set for stage 1; however, stage 2 of the academic appeal procedure is clear that an appeal should be made, at the latest, within 20 working days of the date of the decision. Therefore students should raise their concerns under stage 1 before the 20 working days timeframe. If the stage 1 consideration will take it beyond 20 working days, the student should submit their academic appeal to the Proctors’ Office and explain why they have not completed the stage 1. At that time the Proctors’ Office will either accept the academic appeal or extend the timeframe to enable stage 1 to be completed.

A number of students choose to use information obtained under a Subject Access Requests (SAR) or Freedom of Information (FOI) request to support their academic appeal. However waiting for this information is not in itself a reason the Proctors will accept why an academic appeal is not made within the 20 working days deadline. For an appeal to be accepted outside of this timeframe the student will need to demonstrate that the SAR or FOI was requested within a reasonable timeframe after the decision they are appealing was notified to them, that the appeal was submitted within a reasonable timeframe from receipt of the SAR/FOI information, and that the information received from the SAR/FOI clearly demonstrates that there was an error, procedural irregularity or bias or perception of bias.

If a student is dissatisfied by the outcome of stage 1, or they have not completed stage 1 within 20 working days, they have the right to bring this matter to the Proctors' consideration under stage 2 of the University Academic Appeals Procedure

To make an academic appeal the student needs to familiarise themselves with the University Academic Appeals Procedure and complete an Academic Appeal Form. It is worth noting that:

  • A group of students making a joint appeal will need to nominate a spokesperson to make the appeal on its behalf
  • If the student is a member of a college and are on a taught course, they should submit their Academic Appeal Form through their Senior Tutor
  • Research students should submit their form directly
  • Time limits do apply: the student should submit their form within 20 working days of when they were notified of the relevant decision

The Proctors will open a formal investigation of the academic appeal and conduct an investigation. This will usually mean sharing the details of the student's appeal with the person or body that made the decision so that they can respond. The Proctors will normally try and complete their investigation within 30 days of receiving the form. The student will receive a written outcome explaining what the Proctor has done to investigate the student's appeal, their decision and the reasons for it, and any directions or recommendations.

If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the academic appeal they can request a review of the decision under stage 3 of University Academic Appeals Procedure.

 

Stage 3 is not a reconsideration of the student’s original academic appeal. It is a request for a member of the Review panel to review the Proctor's investigation and decision in light of the University Academic Appeals Procedure. A review can only be made on the following grounds:

  1. there was a procedural irregularity or error in the Proctor’s investigation;
  2. the Proctor’s decision was unreasonable (the student must identify which aspects of the Proctor’s decision they consider to be objectively unreasonable and explain why);
  3. the student was not provided with clear reasons for the Proctor’s decision; or
  4. the student has material evidence which the Proctor has not yet seen (the student must have a valid reasons for not having provided this earlier and must explain this in the review request).

Simply disagreeing with the outcome at stage 2 is not enough to request a review.  

Time limits apply and the review request form should be submitted within 10 working days of the date of the outcome letter from stage 2 of the procedure. 

A Reviewer will be appointed from the review panel and they will not have had any involvement with the previous stages of the complaint, and an investigation will be carried out by a different permanent caseworker from the Proctors' Office.  The Reviewer will normally try to complete their investigation within 10 working days of receiving the form although this timeframe can be extended. Once the investigation is completed the student will receive a written outcome explaining the Reviewer’s decision and the reasons for it, and any directions or recommendations to address the complaint. The department will only be contacted if a decision is made that a new investigation at stage 2 be carried out.

If the review request is not upheld and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome they can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.  Details of how to do this will be included in the outcome letter of the stage 3 review request.