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Academic Appeals Procedure

Last updated: 11 December 2020

1. Introduction

1.1 The Academic Appeals Procedure allows students to appeal against the decision of a Board of Examiners, if it is believed that an error occurred under the grounds outlined in Section 4.

1.2 For the purpose of this procedure, and in line with the revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Quality Code), an academic appeal is defined as: ‘a request for a review of a decision of an academic body around a mark, outcome or decision. Students may appeal an outcome on the basis of evidence or procedure, but not on the basis of disagreement with academic judgement.’

1.3 An academic appeal relates to the mark or grade a student is given for an assessment, or a decision about their progression or award, which is confirmed by a Board of Examiners.

1.4 A student shall have the right to appeal once against a single decision of a Board of Examiners

2. Principles

2.1. The procedure is based on the University’s Assessment Principles and is in keeping with the Quality Code, and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education’s Good Practice Framework for Handling Complaints and Academic Appeals.

2.2. The procedure is based on the principles of fairness and transparency. It is set out to ensure:

2.3 Students should be assured that they will not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as a result of making an appeal in good faith.

2.4 The University will make reasonable adjustments at any stage of the proceedings to accommodate the needs of students.

2.5 The University follows guidance by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education’s Good Practice Framework for Handling Complaints and Academic Appeals. The outcome of an academic appeal may include practical remedies or, in certain circumstances, financial redress. If the outcome of an appeal results in a financial remedy being offered, and the student has outstanding debt(s), the University may reserve the right to apply that amount to towards that debt.

3. Confidentiality

3.1 All information obtained within the process of the appeal will be held in accordance with Data Protection legislation and the Student Privacy Notice.

3.2 Students must note that information about appellants will be kept confidential, except where the disclosure is necessary to progress the appeal or implement a decision on the appeal, or where it is required by law or in the public interest.

3.3 In submitting an appeal the student understands that their appeal will be shared with the staff member responsible for conducting the investigation into the matters raised, and that the content of their appeal may need to be disclosed to relevant staff in order for the appeal to be investigated and/or resolution sought. If there are elements of a student’s appeal which are particularly sensitive and they have concerns about their confidentiality, they are welcome to raise this with the Governance and Secretariat Services Team at: appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk, who will discuss if / how disclosure can be minimised.

3.4 Students should avoid disclosing unnecessary personal information (e.g. medical conditions etc.) in their appeal unless they feel that it is relevant to the issues raised. Students must also avoid disclosing personal data of another person/s in their complaint unless they have been given permission by them to do so.

4. Grounds for Appeal

4.1 A student may only request an appeal on one or both of the following grounds:

a) that, at the time of the assessment, there existed circumstances which adversely affected the student’s performance and which the student was unable to communicate to the Board of Examiners before it reached its decision. In making such a case, the student shall provide
valid documentary evidence where appropriate. Retrospective medical certification will not be accepted as valid;

b) that there has been an administrative error or procedural irregularity during the conduct of the relevant assessment of such a significant nature as to have materially affected the approved grade or mark awarded.

4.2 This procedure may only be used where a student is seeking to have a Board of Examiners’ decision reviewed. Disagreement with the academic judgement of a Board of Examiners in assessing the merits of an individual piece of work or in reaching any assessment decision based on the marks, grades or other information relating to a student’s performance is not a valid ground for appeal. Students do not have the right to request that an assessment is re-marked.

4.3 If a student is dissatisfied with teaching, supervision, academic advice or other service provision during their programme of study, they may submit a complaint under the University’s Student Complaints Procedure. Students must raise such concerns as and when they occur, as these cannot
be considered later as grounds for an academic appeal. If you submit an appeal which is considered would be more appropriately dealt with as a complaint, the University may decide to follow the complaints procedure instead of, or as well as, the appeals procedure, depending on the nature of the issues raised. Students will be advised accordingly if this is the case.

4.4 It is recognised that some cases can involve a combination of issues, where a number are related to an appeal and others are not, and the University will assess each case individually. In these circumstances, the student will be informed which issues will be considered under which procedure and they will be directed to the alternative procedure as appropriate to allow all issues to be considered. Students will be advised of the effects, if any, of following two procedures at once, particularly where one procedure may be suspended until the other is completed.

4.5 Where there is significant overlap, the University may decide to consider matters together, if the student agrees to this. For example, if an appeal includes matters that could also be dealt with under other procedures, such as the Student Complaints Procedure, a joint investigation may be carried out. In such cases, the student will be informed where responsibility for the overall investigation lies and who will issue the final decision.

5. Who can appeal?

5.1 The procedure may be used by anyone who is, or was recently, an enrolled student at the University. Please note that Section 8 of this procedure outlines specific timescales within which appeals should be lodged by students.

5.2 The University will only accept academic appeals from the student and not from someone else on the student’s behalf. In exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Head of Governance and Secretariat Services, the University may accept a complaint from a third party if the student provides their written consent for the named third party to act on their behalf, and a reason deemed acceptable.

5.3 Students have the right to be accompanied by, supported or advised at any stage of the procedure by another member of the University community, (which is a person who is a currently enrolled student of the University, or a member of staff of the University, or a member of staff or elected officer of the University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union). If a student is under 18 years of age they must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or other responsible adult.

6. Programmes delivered by a Collaborative Partner, or assessed by an External Organisation

6.1 If a student is studying at a Collaborative Partnership organisation on a programme leading to a University of Gloucestershire award, they have the right to make an academic appeal to the University.

6.2 If a programme is assessed by an external organisation, for example by a professional, statutory or regulatory body, these procedures may be subject to reasonable variation to conform with the regulations of that body.

7. How to Appeal

7.1 If a student believes they have valid grounds for appeal, there are three stages they should follow:

  1. Early Resolution (before making a formal Appeal): students should firstly raise the matter
    informally at a local level with the relevant Module/Course Team or School, as soon as it
    arises.
  2. Formal Academic Appeal: if the matter cannot be resolved informally / locally, and if there
    are grounds, students can submit an academic appeal, which will be dealt with formally.
  3. Review: if the student remains dissatisfied with the response to their formal academic appeal,
    they can request a review.

8. Timescales

8.1 Early Resolution: students should raise informal academic appeal-related queries as soon as they arise, with the appropriate Module / Course Team or School to allow them to be investigated and dealt with quickly. Students should note that the next stage of the procedure (formal appeal) is only available if it is received within 20 working days of the Board of Examiners meeting where the mark was confirmed, and that this period includes the time needed for the appeal to be raised first informally.

8.2 Formal Academic Appeal: if a student remains dissatisfied with the response to their informal appeal-related query, and if there are relevant grounds to take it further (refer to Section 3. Grounds for Appeal), they can move to the formal academic appeal stage. This must be within 20 working days of the Board of Examiners meeting where the mark was confirmed. If a student’s formal academic appeal is received more than 20 working days after the Board of Examiners meeting where the mark was confirmed, it will only be considered at the formal stage if there is good reason for the delay.

8.3 Review: if a student is not satisfied with the outcome of the formal academic appeal stage, and they meet the grounds, they have 10 working days to ask for a review.

8.4 Time Period for consideration of an Appeal: the University will endeavour to process academic appeals as quickly as possible, and to complete the processing of a formal appeal and any associated review within 90 calendar days. Within that 90 calendar day timeframe, students must meet any University deadlines for the submission of documentation and attending meetings. There may occasionally be circumstances when the timeframe needs to be extended for different stages of the procedure for good reason, particularly if the appeal is complex, extensive, or was
submitted at a time when key staff are away from the University. If this is the case, the student will be notified and regularly informed of progress.

8.5 The University defines a ‘working day’ as Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays and other days
when the University is closed.

9. Early Resolution (Before making a Formal Academic Appeal)

9.1 Before considering whether or not there are groundsfor a formal appeal, it is important that the student firstly discusses the matter with the appropriate staff from the relevant Module or Course Team, or School, to see if any informal resolution can be achieved.

9.2 This can help students fully understand why they were given a particular assessment mark or grade, or the reasoning behind, and implications of, a progression or award decision. This may also assist students to decide whether it is appropriate to submit a formal academic appeal. It is important to understand that the University must maintain academic standards, so an assessment outcome will only be changed as a result of an appeal where there is clear evidence that the original outcome was unsound.

9.3 Students may also find it helpful to ask the Students’ Union or Student Helpzones for advice and guidance on their intended appeal. If students have any questions about how the appeals process works, they can contact the Governance and Secretariat Services Team at: appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk.

9.4 Staff should make every effort to resolve appeals informally but, in the interests of the student, may suggest a formal academic appeal if an informal resolution cannot be reached, or the issues raised are complex and require detailed investigation.

10. Formal Academic Appeal

10.1 If, after attempting to resolve the matter informally at a local level a student wishes to proceed with a formal appeal, this must be made on an Academic Appeals Form and submitted to the Governance and Secretariat Services Team by email (to appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk), or by post (addressed to: Academic Appeals, Governance and Secretariat Services, University of Gloucestershire, Fullwood, The Park, Cheltenham, GL50 2RH).

10.2 On the Academic Appeals Form, the student must make a full statement of the grounds for appeal and provide appropriate supporting evidence. This may include copies of relevant email correspondence to and from staff concerning your issue, death certificates, medical certification of health conditions affecting you (if it is relevant to the issues raised) etc. Students must avoid disclosing personal data of another person/s in their appeal unless they have been given permission by them to do so. Students should also outline how they have attempted to resolve the matter informally at a local level, and what remedy they are seeking to their formal appeal.

10.3 It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they raise all relevant issues and that they provide all the necessary information and supporting documentation at the point of submission. The Governance and Secretariat Services Team may ask the student to provide further information or evidence and will set an appropriate time limit for this to be made available by the student.

10.4 Students should expect to receive an acknowledgement to their formal appeal via email within 3 working days of receipt. If you have not received an acknowledgement within 5 working days, please contact appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk to check that your appeal has been received.

10.5 Notification of the formal appeal will be communicated to the Chair of the Board of Examiners on behalf of the Head of Governance and Secretariat Services. A written response to the issues raised in the appeal will be requested on behalf of the relevant School as well as any other relevant information for consideration. The School’s response will be sent to the student so that if they choose, they can make a further written submission based on what the School has said, before the Academic Appeals Group considers the case.

11. Consideration of Formal Appeal by Academic Appeals Group

11.1 An Academic Appeals Group consisting of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (or nominee),the Head of Governance and Secretariat Services (or nominee), the President of the Students’ Union and an Officer of the Governance and Secretariat Services Team will meet at the earliest opportunity to discuss the formal appeal and will reach a decision with the following possible outcomes:

11.1.1 There is sufficient evidence for the student’s appeal to be upheld and the Academic Appeals Group recommendsreconsideration by the Board of Examiners;

11.1.2 Advice is given to the student that the Academic Appeals Group considers that:

a) There is not a case for successful appeal because there is insufficient evidence for the Academic Appeals Group to uphold the appeal but the student may request that this be considered further by an Academic Appeals Review Panel;

b) The appeal is rejected as invalid because it is made against the academic judgement of the examiners, or is made outside the published deadlines or for other good reason identified by the Academic Appeals Group.

11.2 The Head of Governance and Secretariat Services or nominee will inform the student of the outcome of the Academic Appeals Group via email within 5 working days of the meeting. The decision of the Academic Appeals Group will be communicated to the Chair of the Board of Examiners at the same time as the student is informed.

11.3 If an appeal is rejected as invalid by the Academic Appeals Group and a student is dissatisfied with the outcome, they may submit a request for review, providing they meet the grounds for this. The limited grounds for requesting a review are as follows:

11.4 If a student wishes to request a review of the decision by the Academic Appeals Group, they must submit a request to the University Secretary and Registrar by email (sent to: universitysecretary@glos.ac.uk) or by post (addressed to: University Secretary and Registrar, University of Gloucestershire, Fullwood, The Park, Cheltenham, GL50 2RH) within 10 working days from the date of the decision of the Group. The student should specify the grounds on which they are specifying a review, why they disagree with the appeal outcome, and the remedy they are seeking. The University Secretary and Registrar may delegate the review to an appropriate person; neither will have been involved at any previous stage.

11.5 The purpose of the review is to consider whether correct procedures were followed and whether the outcome was reasonable. At the review stage, the University would not normally consider the issues again or investigate the matter further. The University Secretary and Registrar or delegate will base the decision on the written material submitted in relation to the formal appeal, a written statement of the outcome of the appeal, and the student’s written case for the review. New grounds of appeal or new evidence will not normally be considered at the review stage, unless
there is new material evidence which the student was unable to provide earlier in the process, for valid reasons.

11.6 The University Secretary and Registrar or delegate will communicate their decision to the student in writing as soon as possible and normally within 10 working days. The decision of the University Secretary and Registrar or delegate will be final as far as the University’s internal procedures are concerned. The student will receive a Completion of Procedures letter. If the student remains dissatisfied, they may apply for a review by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, if their case is eligible under its Rules.

12. In the event of an appeal being upheld by the Academic Appeals Group

12.1 The Board of Examiners will be advised by the Academic Appeals Group that it considers there are grounds for the appeal to be upheld, and it will recommend reconsideration of the original decision and the Board of Examiners will be required to reconsider its decision.

12.2 If the Board of Examiners declines to modify its decision the Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) may arrange on behalf of Academic Board for specific action to be taken to amend the decision of the Board of Examiners and make alternative arrangements for the assessment of the student.

13. In the event the Academic Appeals Group issues further advice that a case could be considered by an Academic Appeals Review Panel

13.1 Where the Academic Appeals Group issues advice that an appeal could be considered further by an Academic Appeals Review Panel, the student must notify Governance and Secretariat Services whether they wishes to proceed with this in writing within 10 working days from the date of the Group’s decision, by email (sent to: appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk) or by post to (addressed to: Academic Appeals, Governance and Secretariat Services, Academic Registry, University of Gloucestershire, Fullwood, The Park, Cheltenham, GL50 2RH).

13.2 No further documentation will be required from the student unless he/she feels that there exists documentary evidence which would assist the Academic Appeals Review Panel. It is not normally possible to introduce new grounds for appeal at this stage, unless it relates to evidence that could
not have been provided sooner e.g. a medical specialist’s report that was received after the student submitted their appeal.

13.3 When a student decides to proceed with an appeal, the case will be considered by an Academic Appeals Review Panel which shall be a sub-committee of the Academic Board.

14. Establishment of an Academic Appeals Review Panel

14.1 An Academic Appeals Review Panelshall comprise:

A quorum will be three voting members including the Chair.

14.2 The Governance and Secretariat Services Team will arrange for the hearing of the appeal at the earliest opportunity and provide adequate notice to all parties. Documentation presented to the Academic Appeals Review Panel relating to the appeal will also be provided to the student and the Chair of the relevant Board of Examiners or his / her representative. Any additional communications or documentation received after the deadline set by Governance and Secretariat Services will not be accepted for consideration by the Panel, except at the sole discretion of the Chair of the Panel.

14.3 The student will be invited to attend the hearing, as will the Chair of the relevant Board of Examiners or his/ her representative, and / or other appropriate members of academic staff. The student may be accompanied by a member of the University community, (which is a person who is a currently enrolled student of the University, or a member of staff of the University, or a member of staff or elected officer of the University of Gloucestershire Students’ Union). The student must make their own arrangements for this, and confirm the name and status of the person accompanying them in writing to Governance and Secretariat Services at appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk no less than 4 working days before the hearing and keep them informed of any changes. Students under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

14.4 The University expects the appellant to attend the hearing and requires all parties to make reasonable efforts to find a mutually suitable date within the desired timeframe. In the event that the hearing date cannot be found within the desired timeframe or has to be delayed, all parties will be kept informed as to the reasons for this.

14.5 On the basis that reasonable steps have been taken to find a mutually suitable date for the hearing, the University will not normally rearrange the date of a hearing due to the absence of the student. If the student is unable to attend they may nominate a representative to attend on their behalf, providing that the representative is also a member of the University community. The Chair of the Academic Appeals Review Panel will decide how the Committee will proceed with an appeal in the voluntary or unavoidable absence of the student and whether or not it will permit a proxy to be nominated to represent the student.

15. Consideration of Formal Appeal by an Academic Appeals Review Panel

15.1 In the interest of natural justice, both the appellant and the Chair of the relevant Board of Examiners or his/ her representative, and / or other appropriate members of academic staff will normally be invited to be present at the hearing at the same time so that both parties will hear all of the evidence presented to the Panel and have the opportunity to comment on it.

15.2 The student may opt not to attend at the same time as the other parties and should confirm this preference in writing to appealsandcomplaints@glos.ac.uk when they receive notification of the Academic Appeals Review Panel date.

15.3 The University will normally expect that if the student is happy for all parties to be present, staff members will also agree to be present. However, the University recognises that this may not be reasonable in all cases and a member of staff as well as the student may request to be heard separately by the panel if they have particular grounds for making the request. The appropriateness of an invitation for both parties to be present at the same time is a matter on which the Chair may exercise discretion depending on the nature of the case.

15.4 Where agreed, a student’s presence at a Panel may be through virtual means such as video or telephone conferencing. This should be arranged in advance via Governance and Secretariat Services.

15.5 The Chair will provide the Panel of the Academic Appeals Review Panel with an initial briefing before the student and appropriate members of staff from the relevant School join the meeting.

15.6 The student will be invited to present a case and to answer any questions of clarification. The Chair of the Board of Examiners or his / her representative, and other appropriate members of staff will be invited to make an initial statement on behalf of the School responding to the appeal and will also be asked questions of clarification. If the student is accompanied by a member of the University community, they may speak on behalf of or otherwise represent the interests of the student but may not give evidence except on matters of which he / she has direct knowledge.

15.7 The Panel may call any other members of staff or students it considers might assist it in reaching a decision. Any such persons shall be notified in advance of the meeting.

15.8 The student and members of academic staff from the relevant School will be asked to withdraw.

15.9 The Panel will consider the evidence and reach a decision. The possible outcomes of the hearing are:

a) The appeal is not upheld

b) The appeal is partially upheld and the Panel recommends reconsideration by the Board of Examiners

c) The appeal is upheld and the Panel recommends reconsideration by the Board of Examiners

15.10 There may be occasions on which the Panel cannot make its decision without re-convening at a subsequent date and time. In such cases, the Chair and officer of the Panel would do so in consultation with the student. Considerations of the Panel will be confidential and, where necessary, its decision will be reached by ballot. The Chair will have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

15.11 The student will be informed of the result of the appeal by the Secretary to the Academic Appeals Review Panel (i.e. the Academic Registrar, Head of Governance and Secretariat Services or nominee) in writing (via email) and normally within 5 working days of the meeting. If this timescale is to be extended for any reason, the student will be advised in writing.

15.12 The decision of an Academic Appeals Review Panel will be communicated to the Chair of the Board of Examiners at the same time as the student is informed.

15.13 In the event of a successful appeal the Board of Examiners will be advised by the Academic Appeals Review Panel that it considers there are prima facie grounds for reconsideration of the original decision and the Board of Examiners will be required to reconsider its decision.

15.14 If the Board of Examiners declines to modify its decision the Vice Chancellor (or nominee) may arrange on behalf of Academic Board for specific action to be taken to amend the decision of the Board of Examiners and make alternative arrangements for the assessment of the student.

16. Office of the Independent Adjudicator

16.1 If a student has completed the University’s internal Academic Appeals and they are still dissatisfied with the outcome, they may be able to refer their appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) providing that it is eligible under the OIA’s Rules.

16.2 Where a student has exhausted the University’s internal appeals procedure, they will be issued a Completion of Procedures letter by the University. If a student wishes to submit their appeal to the OIA for review, they must do this within 12 months of the receipt of their Completion of Procedures letter; the letter will confirm the deadline by which the student may refer their appeal to the OIA. Further information regarding the OIA is available at: www.oiahe.org.uk.

17. Recording, Reporting and Organisation Learning

17.1 The University will record academic appeals in sufficient, proportionate detail for analysis and management reporting to allow the causes of appeals to be identified, addressed and, where appropriate, for training opportunities and improvements to be introduced.

17.2 On an annual basis, an anonymised report on the number and nature of formal academic appeals considered and outcomes will be presented to the Academic Board and to University Council. This process will ensure appropriate monitoring of all appeals and related outcomes and is intended to facilitate learning from appeals.

17.3 The University will keep and dispose of records relating to appeals in accordance with its Data Protection Policy and its Records Retention Schedule.

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