Academic appeals

 

Sometimes results don’t go the way we want them to, but when this is through no fault of your own, it may be appropriate to ask for those results to be reviewed.

The full regulations on appeals, which can be found here, are quite complex, so we have summarised them below for you.

WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC APPEAL?

An academic appeal formally requests that a result is re-examined for one of three reasons:

  • There is evidence that procedures were not applied correctly, or marks were calculated incorrectly.
  • There were extenuating circumstances which the original decision makers were not aware of, or that you could not disclose at that time to them.
  • That the original decision was not reasonable in the given circumstances.

WHAT CAN I APPEAL?

Confirmed decisions by a board of examiners or the examiners of higher degrees can be appealed, as well as decisions by either a University committee or staff member regarding academic progress.

If you are going through any other formal University procedure dealing with the same, or related, issues, these will have to be completed before you can appeal.

Remember that academic judgement – which is defined as “the professional and scholarly knowledge” which academic staff draw upon to make academic decisions – cannot be appealed. What this means in practice is that you cannot appeal a precise mark, but rather an incorrect or incomplete procedure which led to the result. A mark will only be changed if there was a clear error in either recording or processing it.

How do I appeal?

Stage 1: Faculty [+]

Firstly, you need to make sure you have discussed the matter informally with your department as far as possible, and only after this proceed to appeal.

At this point, make sure that it has been less than 21 days since you were informed of the result you wish to appeal – appeals must be made within this time and extensions to that deadline will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Click here to see the process [+]

An appeal must be submitted to either the appropriate Faculty office for Undergraduates, or the Curriculum, Learning and Assessment Service (CLAS) for postgraduates. The forms to file a faculty level appeal can be found here (for appeals relating to academic decisions made in the 2018-2019 academic year) and here(for appeals relating to academic decisions made in the 2019-2020 academic year).

On this form, you need to:

  • Clearly state why you are appealing
  • Lay out any details which support your appeal
  • Outline a desired outcome, for example that it is reviewed and mitigating circumstances are taken into account
  • Attach relevant documents which may support your appeal.

At this stage, you could contact the SU advice centre using our enquiries form here.

Possible outcomes at Faculty level are:

  • The result in question is sent back to the board of examiners to be re-examined
  • A concession is granted which will impact how the result is taken into account
  • Faculty may pass the case up to the Senate Academic Appeals Committee for examination
  • No grounds for appeal are found and the appeal dismissed. In this case, you may wish to progress to the Senate Academic Appeals Committee, about which more information can be found below.
Stage 2: Senate Academic Appeals Committee (SAAC) [+]

After investigation at Faculty level has concluded, you may wish to continue appealing if the Faculty finds no grounds for appeal. You need to either have evidence that the procedure was applied incorrectly at Faculty level, or that there is substantial new information which would impact the case that you were either not aware of or were unable to tell the Faculty appeal about, in order for your appeal to SAAC to be valid.

Please note that at SAAC level, a decision being ‘unreasonable’ is no longer grounds for an appeal.

At this point you can submit an appeal to SAAC, the form for which can be found here.

On this form, you need to:

  • Clearly state what decision you are appealing
  • The grounds for that appeal, and a detailed supporting explanation for each point
  • Outline a desired outcome, for example that it is reviewed and mitigating circumstances are taken into account
  • Attach relevant documents which may support your appeal.

SAAC appeals can be submitted to CLAS directly, or through your department, and need to be submitted within 14 days of the outcome of your Faculty appeal.

SAAC meetings are normally held within 28 days, and you will be given at least 14 days’ notice of when and where it will take place.

An oral hearing is not always held, but rather a decision made by the chair or deputy chair where possible.

An SAAC meeting will usually include the head of your department, the head of your college, and the chair of the relevant board of examiners (or a supervisor in the case of some Postgraduates). You will be asked to present your own case in person, though in some circumstances you may be able to nominate a proxy to attend in your place.

Judgments are normally reached within 10 days of the meeting, at which point SAAC can grant a concession, return the decision to the board of examiners for review, or they may find no grounds for appeal and disallow it. When one of these decisions is come to, a ‘Completion of Procedures’ letter will be issued.

Possible outcomes at SAAC level are:

  • The result in question is sent back to the board of examiners to be re-examined, however the appropriate Head (or Deputy Head) of Faculty will attend the meeting during the re-examination of this result
  • A concession is granted which will impact how the result is taken into account
  • No grounds for appeal are found and the appeal dismissed, and a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter is given to you – at this point, you may appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIAHE), about which more information can be found below.

If SAAC dismisses the appeal, you may then take it to the OIAHE, which will investigate further and may compel SAAC to consider the appeal. Remember you can only go to the OIAHE once you have completed the Faculty and SAAC phases, within 12 months of your COP letter being received.

WHO CAN HELP ME?

The appeals process can be a daunting one, and often involves a number of individuals from across the University at different stages, so it’s not unusual for you to want to seek help at this point. There are a number of places you can find help, including:

  • Your college’s student support staff (procedural support only)
  • Appropriate academic staff (more details can be found in your department handbook procedural support only)
  • The Curriculum, Learning and Assessment Service (more details here procedural support only)
  • The Students’ Union Advice Centre (procedural and advocacy support)

An appeal at this stage must be submitted to the Curriculum, Learning and Assessment Service (CLAS). The forms to file a senate level appeal can be found here (for appeals relating to academic decisions made in the 2018-2019 academic year) and here (for appeals relating to academic decisions made in the 2019-2020 academic year). When you click through, you will need to click on the heading "appeals", which will bring you to the right forms. 

WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?

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Page last reviewed: 12/5/2020