Calendar 2016/17

H - Procedures Relating to Student Academic Appeals

[Procedures for Partner Institutions: All partner institutions delivering programmes validated by the University of Exeter are required to follow the procedures below, except that 'College Pro-Vice Chancellor' shall be taken to mean Head of the academic unit concerned, who shall keep the Principal of the partner institution informed.]

1

Introduction

1.1

Students have a right of appeal against academic decisions and recommendations made by Boards of Examiners1 and Faculty Boards (or Deans of Faculty acting on their behalf) that affect their academic progress. These procedures set out the grounds of appeal permitted and the mechanisms by which that right can be exercised. These procedures also set out the grounds on which an academic appeal is not permissible.

1.2

Complaints relating to the quality of teaching or supervision, or other circumstances that relate to the delivery of a programme of study before the point of assessment or the submission of a thesis or dissertation, are not subject to these procedures. They should instead be raised under the University's Student Complaints Procedure. Where an appeal depends on the resolution of a complaint, both the appeal and complaint should be submitted within specified timescales but the complaint will take place precedence and the appeal wait for the outcome of the complaint.

1.3

These procedures describe how students may submit an academic appeal to the University and the grounds under which they may do so. It is important for students to distinguish between those grounds when making their case and also between an appeal and a complaint (for which different procedures are in place). If after discussing an appeal with a College or academic unit a student is still in doubt over any matter relating to an intended appeal, advice may be sought from the following offices:

  • Student Cases Office
  • Students' Guild Advice Unit, Forum
  • Academic Support Unit, Penryn Campus
  • The FXU, Penryn Campus

1.4

Academic appeals come under the authority of the Senate of the University. Senate has delegated others to act on its behalf in such matters. These procedures explain how appeals should be submitted, and who will consider academic appeals on behalf of Senate.

1.5

Staff named in these procedures may also delegate responsibility for managing the Academic Appeals procedure to other University staff acting on their behalf.

1.6

Appeals will be treated with due diligence and confidentiality, but you should understand that those considering an appeal will normally require access to the documentation presented in support of it in order to come to an informed decision.

1.7

If your academic appeal is of a particularly sensitive nature, and you would like to make some early enquiries on a confidential basis, please contact the Students' Guild's Advice Unit (FXU for Penryn Campus Students) or the relevant Faculty Office, which may be able to offer you advice.

1.8

You will not be disadvantaged as a result of making an academic appeal. However, if it  is later discovered that an appeal was frivolous, malicious or vexatious, the University may consider referring you to its Disciplinary Procedure. This may include:

  • appeals which are obsessive, harassing, or repetitive
  • insistence on pursuing non-meritorious appeals and/or unrealistic, unreasonable outcomes
  • insistence on pursuing what may be non-meritorious appeals in an unreasonable manner
  • appeals which are designed to cause disruption of annoyance
  • demands for redress which lack any serious purpose or value
1.9

The University has a responsibility to protect its self against unacceptable behaviour and provide a working environment that is safe, respectful and tolerant. Consequently it is expected that students, their representatives and staff members should act reasonably and fairly towards each other and treat the process with respect. Behaviour that is unreasonable, aggressive or abusive, verbal or written, will not be tolerated and may result in your access to the procedure or to staff connected with your appeal being limited or withdrawn.

 

The decision to limit or withdraw access is not taken lightly. In the event that this decision is taken we will provide this in writing, including the reason(s) why this decision has been taken.

 

In the event that your access to staff or to the complaints procedure is limited or withdrawn you may appeal the decision by submitting your grounds in writing to the Head of Governance and Compliance who will review the appeal with the Academic Dean for Students or Associate Academic Dean for Students, or Director of the University of Exeter Doctoral College or Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research (as relevant).

 

The Head of Governance and Compliance (or their nominee) will request copies of all documentation from the College/Service area concerned.

1.10 You should send copies of all relevant documentation with the Appeal against withdrawal of Procedure form.

2

Right of Appeal

2.1

Appeals may be made in respect of the following areas relating to the process of assessment:

  1. a formal assessment result2
  2. a degree classification
  3. a decision consequential to an academic failure (e.g. termination of registration)
  4. Postgraduate research students may also appeal against a decision relating to their registration status, such as transfer to continuation status, change of mode of study, early submission of thesis etc.
  5. the decision reached is one which no reasonable body, properly directing itself, could have arrived at (for Mitigation Appeals)
  6. decision consequential to unsatisfactory academic progress

2.2

For the following areas of potential dispute, separate procedures apply:

2.3

The submission of an appeal will not be to the detriment of your academic position.

3

Grounds of Appeal

3.1

Grounds of appeal in relation to the areas listed under para 2.1 above are allowed as follows:

 

(a) Material circumstances affecting your performance of which a Board of Examiners or the Board of the Faculty (or the Dean of Faculty acting on its behalf) had not been aware before reaching its decision, only if you can present reasonable grounds why such circumstances had not been presented to the Board in advance of its meeting (see 5.2); and/or

 

(b) Procedural irregularities in the formal conduct of an assessment or in reaching another academic decision; and/or

 

(c) Evidence of prejudice or of bias on the part of one or more examiners and/or markers.

4

Exclusions from Appeal

4.1

The following grounds cannot be considered as the basis for an appeal:

 

(a) Dissatisfaction with the academic judgment of the internal and external examiners and/or markers including the Board of Examiners (see 4.2);

 

(b) Dissatisfaction with the formative assessment of work by academic staff (i.e. marks that have no bearing on a student's formal progress). Such concerns should be raised through the Complaints Procedure;

 

(c) Matters of dispute that are dealt with under the Student Complaints Procedure (see also 4.3).

4.2

The inclusion of an independent element in the assessment of work through internal second marking (or single marking and moderation internally or externally) is normally sufficient to refute the argument that there have been inadequate checks on the accuracy and appropriateness of the marking, and to preclude an appeal on the ground of prejudice and bias.

4.3

You should note that complaints relating to the quality of teaching or supervision, or other circumstances that relate to the delivery of a programme of study before the point of assessment or the submission of a thesis or dissertation, are not subject to these procedures. They should instead be raised under the University's Student Complaints Procedure.

4.4

Academic appeals submitted outside of the timeframe set out in 6.1 will normally be excluded from consideration unless you can present reasonable grounds for why the appeal was not submitted within the normal deadline.

4.5

You should be aware that anyone making unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations concerning the reputation or conduct of members of staff may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

5

Responsibilities of Students

5.1

You should note with care the time constraints outlined in these procedures. You are responsible for compiling documentation in support of an appeal. 

5.2

The appeals procedure is principally for the use of individual students. Where however the issues raised affect a number of students, they may submit an appeal as a group. To do so, they will need to identify one of their number to act as a spokesperson. It will be the spokesperson who will act on behalf of the group and normally only the spokesperson will attend meetings on behalf of the group. At each of the formal stages, each member of the group must sign the statement of the appeal for it to be accepted as a valid group appeal.

5.3

Exceptionally, where a group wishes to appeal but no individual is willing to act as the group's spokesperson, its members may collectively ask the Students' Guild or the FXU at Penryn to act on their behalf.

5.4

It is your responsibility to inform your College Pro-Vice Chancellor 3 or academic unit concerned in writing and without delay of any circumstances that you think may have affected your performance in an assessment. Please refer to the procedures for submission of mitigating evidence provided by your College. Circumstances notified in this way will be considered at the appropriate Board of Examiners or by any group of examiners delegated by the Board to make judgements on its behalf.

5.5

You are reminded that under the University's procedures for the disclosure of assessment results, you have access to your marks through your Colleges under prescribed conditions4. General feedback on your performance should be offered by the College, thereby possibly reassuring you of the appropriateness of the outcome of an assessment.

5.6

You should be aware that your appeal will be considered on the evidence that you submit. You should ensure that all relevant evidence which you wish to be considered is submitted with your application. The University will not gather evidence on your behalf.

6

STAGE 1: APPEAL TO PRO VICE CHANCELLOR OF COLLEGE

6.1

A formal appeal must be submitted using the Stage 1 Appeal Form to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (or their representative 5) within 10 working days of being notified of an academic decision relating to paragraph 2.1. All supporting evidence should be attached to the form. Where possible you should indicate what remedy you seek.

6.2

Colleges should normally aim to resolve an academic appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt of the appeal, or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.

6.3

On receipt of the appeal the College Pro Vice-Chancellor or nominated representative shall decide whether you have presented a prima facie (the meaning of which is to be read as'on the face of it') case for appeal as set out under 3.1. Should an appeal materially involve the College Pro Vice-Chancellor, another senior member of staff of the College will consider the case.

6.4

If no prima facie grounds for appeal are found, the College Pro Vice-Chancellor or their representative can dismiss the appeal, informing you in writing of the reasons for doing so. Colleges should aim to fully address all issues raised in the student’s Stage 1 appeal in their response letter. A copy of the letter should be forwarded to the Student Cases Office. 

6.5

If the College Pro Vice-Chancellor/representative decides that there is a prima facie case for appeal, the case will be investigated by a College appeal panel consisting of the College Pro Vice-Chancellor, the College Registrar and Chair of the Board of Examiners (or other nominees as delegated by the College Dean/representative). The majority of the panel should not be materially involved in the substance of the appeal. The student will be sent a copy of the minutes of the meeting.

6.6

If the panel upholds the appeal, the case will normally be referred back to the Board of Examiners or appropriate College committee (such as Mitigation Committee). In this case, Colleges should follow their normal procedures for considerations by the Board of Examiners, including involvement of External Examiners where appropriate6. In most cases, this could be achieved via electronic means. Care should be taken to ensure student confidentiality and equity in the treatment of marks.

6.7

The College Pro Vice-Chancellor will normally inform you of the outcome of the Board of Examiner's consideration, and this will be reported to the appropriate Dean via the Student Cases Office.

7

STAGE 2: ACADEMIC APPEAL COMMITTEE

7.1

An appeal will only be accepted if:

 

(a) you submit further material circumstances which could not reasonably have been expected to have been submitted for consideration to a College appeal panel during the Stage 1 process;

 

(b) there is evidence of procedural irregularity during the Stage 1 process;

 

(c) there is evidence of bias during the Stage 1 process;

 

(d) the decision reached during the Stage 1 process is one that no reasonable body (properly directing itself, and taking into account all relevant factors) could have arrived at.

7.2

You should submit a Stage 2 Appeal to the Student Cases Office (studentcases@exeter.ac.uk) by sending an Academic Appeal Form using the Stage 2 Appeal Form ‌together with a written statement detailing the grounds for appeal (reference Paragraph 7.1) within 10 working days of being notified of a Stage 1 Academic Appeal decision. You should also enclose a copy of your Stage 1 appeal and any correspondence from the College in respect of their decision.

7.3

The University should normally aim to resolve an academic appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt of the appeal, or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.

7.4

A member of the Student Cases team, (as nominee of the Head of Governance and Compliance) and Academic Dean for Students or Associate Academic Dean for Students, or Director of the University of Exeter Doctoral College or Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research (as relevant) will consider whether there are prima facie grounds for considering the case before a Committee of Academic Appeal.

7.5

If no prima facie grounds for appeal are found, a member of the Student Cases team and Dean of Faculty (or nominee) will dismiss the appeal, informing you in writing of the reasons for doing so.

7.6

If it is decided that there are prima facie grounds for a stage 2 appeal, a member of the Student Cases team will arrange for a (non standing) Academic Appeal Committee to be convened.

7.7

Academic Appeal Committees will normally only consider the appeal against the grounds specified in 7.1 and will not take the form of a re-hearing of the original appeal except in so far as is necessary to decide the merit of the appeal.

8

STAGE 2: ACADEMIC APPEAL COMMITTEE PROTOCOL

8.1

An Academic Appeal Committee shall comprise:

  • The Academic Dean for Students or Associate Academic Dean for Students, or Director of the University of Exeter Doctoral College or Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research (as relevant) as relevant, who shall Chair the Committee; 
  • An academic member of Senate;
  • A Guild Sabbatical Officer.

No person shall serve as a member of the Academic Appeal Committee who is also associated with your Discipline and/or programme of study.

8.2

You will be informed of the date of the Committee meeting at least 5 working days in advance. You may choose to attend the Committee but the Committee may also hear a case in your absence. You may attend the meeting in person or via telephone or other electronic means.

8.3

You may be accompanied by a colleague or friend, normally a member of the University or partner institution. You must inform the secretary of the Committee of the name of anyone you wish to accompany you at least 5 working days before the meeting. The person accompanying you may speak on your behalf with the agreement of the Chair.

8.4

The Committee will  invite the College Pro-Vice Chancellor or academic unit (or appropriate representative) and may call other members of the University or partner institution. 

8.5

Copies of all documents to be considered will be circulated to you and to the Appeal Committee at least five working days before the meeting. 

8.6

The meeting will begin with private discussions by the Appeal Committee to clarify matters of process. 

8.7

You and the College Pro-Vice Chancellor (or nominee) will be invited to join the meeting. You will first be invited to present your statement about the case. The Committee will then question you about your case. The College Pro-Vice Chancellor (or their nominee) will then be invited to present a statement for the College. The Committee will then question the Pro-Vice Chancellor (or their nominee) about the case. Any other relevant parties who have been called to attend the Committee (eg academic or other staff) will then be invited to give their testimony and answer questions put to them by the Committee. 

8.8

The Committee will then retire to consider their verdict on the case. The Committee, having heard the evidence, may uphold the appeal, partially uphold or reject the appeal. The decision reached by the Committee will be final. 

8.9

Such a decision may include a recommendation to annul a decision of the Board of Examiners and substitute it with an alternative decision. If the Committee's recommendation is to change an award this will require the approval of the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive acting on behalf of Senate.

8.10

The Academic Appeal Committee will keep a record of its deliberations and decisions and submit a report to Senate. The Secretary of the Committee will notify you in writing of the Committee's decision and the reasons for it, within five working days of the meeting.

9

Appeals against decisions made under the Code of Good Practice - Unsatisfactory Progress

9.1

You should submit an Academic Appeal Form - Unsatisfactory Progress‌ to the Student Cases Office (studentcases@exeter.ac.uk) detailing your grounds for appeal within 10 working days of being notified of the final decision made by the Faculty Dean.

9.2

An appeal will only be accepted if

 

(a) you submit further material circumstances which could not reasonably have been expected to have been submitted for consideration by the College at an earlier stage;

 

(b) there is evidence of procedural irregularity;

 

(c) there is evidence of bias;

 

(d) the decision reached is wholly unreasonable in all the circumstances.

9.3

The University aims to resolve your appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.

9.4

A member of the Student Cases team, (as nominee of the Head of Governance and Compliance) and a Dean of Faculty past or present (or nominee) who has not previously been involved in the case will consider whether there are grounds for appeal.

9.5

A member of the Student Cases team and the Dean may either uphold the appeal, dismiss the appeal or refer the matter to an Appeal Committee - Unsatisfactory Academic Progress.

Committee Protocol as for Stage 2 - see section 8

9.6

If the appeal is dismissed, this exhausts the university's internal appeals process and a Completion of Procedures letter will be issued which will contain details of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

10

Completion of the University's Academic Appeal Process

10.1

There are no other University appeal procedures beyond those stages detailed above. If you are not satisfied with the outcome after the completion of the University's procedure, you can apply to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education7

11

Annual Report

11.1

Each year a report will be prepared for the appropriate Faculty Boards and Senate by Student Cases detailing general matters or issues arising from recent academic appeals.

1For ease of reference, the term 'Board of Examiners' will be applied throughout the document as referring to the appropriate committee dealing with the appeal within the examination process. It will therefore encompass, for the purpose of these procedures only, other appropriate committees such as Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees (APACs), Consequences Boards, Postgraduate Boards, Mitigation Committees or other appropriate College Committees.

2Assessments subject to these procedures are those that contribute to the award of credit and/or progression.

3 In the case of the Flexible Combined Honours Degree, the role of the College Pro-Vice Chancellor under these procedures shall be assumed by the Director of the Flexible Combined Honours Degree.

4 See TQA Manual: http://admin.exeter.ac.uk/academic/tls/tqa/Part%208/8Fdisclos4.pdf

5 In the case of a combined honours or inter-disciplinary single honours programme, the receiving College Pro-Vice Chancellor will forward a copy to any other involved parties. In case of the Flexible Combined Honours Degree, the Director of the Flexible Combined Honours Degree will contact Colleges responsible for relevant modules.

6 See TQA Manual: http://admin.exeter.ac.uk/academic/tls/tqa/Part%208/8Kexambrds.pdf

7See http://www.oiahe.org.uk