If you've received a letter from the University telling you that you've had your course terminated, please read our Course Termination Options information sheet. Once you've read this, and followed the initial advice, please get in touch with SU Advice so we can arrange for you to speak with an Education Adviser.
The University's Academic Appeals Policy defines an academic appeal as a "request for a review of a decision of an academic body charged with making decisions on student progress, assessment and awards."
Speak to your School or Department
In the first instance, if you aren't happy with a decision, you will be expected to talk the matter through with an appropriate person in your School, such as your Personal Tutor, Head of School or Examinations Officer. You should seek clarification where you are unclear on how or why a particular decision has been taken. It may be that following such discussions concerns about the result/decision might be clearer and more understandable (e.g. how a mark for an examination/piece of work was arrived at or how the classification has been calculated) and the matter can be resolved informally.
After speaking to your School, you have the option of formally appealing under the University's Academic Appeals Procedure if you are still unhappy with the decision.
What types of decision do you have the right to challenge?
You have the right to appeal a limited range of final decisions. These are linked to course progression, assessment and awards. In particular, the following decisions are open to appeal:
- Termination of a taught course
- A research degree decision
- Outcome of a Fitness to Practice Committee hearing
- An academic progression decision
- A degree classification decision (this also applies where you are able to progress following end of year results (i.e. second to final year) but where you have not disclosed serious circumstances which you believe may unduly impact your final classification).
- The outcome of an Extenuating Circumstances Claim
What ground/s do you need to establish?
All appeals must satisfy one (or more) of the following grounds:
- Procedural Irregularity: That parts of the documented assessment procedure were not applied and that this has significantly impacted the final decision.
- Prejudice or Bias: This includes situations in which you can show actual prejudice/bias or where you can establish that there is a reasonable perception of prejudice/bias.
- Manifest Unreasonableness: You must be able to show that the decision is so unreasonable that no reasonable person would find it comprehensible. This must be more than your disagreement with the decision.
- Extenuating Circumstances: Your performances was materially affected by extenuating circumstances that you have not previously submitted or fully evidenced. You must be able to provide acceptable evidence in line with the extenuating circumstances policy. Importantly you must also be able to show good reason for not doing submitting your claim at the time of the affected assessment(s).
It is vital that you make it clear what grounds your appeal is based on. If it is unclear which grounds you are appealing under, then it is likely that your appeal will not be considered.
Circumstances that will not be classed as ground for appeal:
- a) Perceived shortcomings in tuition, supervision or support.
- b) Matters of academic judgement of a School Board of Examiners or individual.
- c) Disagreement with the actual mark awarded for a piece of assessed work except where grounds can be established under one of the grounds for appeal.
- d) Appeals against provisional marks.
If you wish to proceed, what will you need to do?
In order for your appeal to be considered you are required to complete and submit an Academic Appeals Form. This allows you to set out your written case and must be submitted within one month of you receiving notification of the decision which you are appealing against. Appeals submitted after the one month deadline are unlikely to be considered unless you can provide a compelling reason as to why you were unable to comply with the deadlines.
Completing the Academic Appeals Form
Read the guidance on completing the form carefully.
You should include copies of any documents you are relying on as evidence. Your appeal must be as clear and detailed as possible, and you must respond to all requests and communications within the given deadline.
What will happen next?
There are a number of potential stages to the procedure:
1) Case subject to triage
Following submission of your appeal the University conduct a triage process to assess eligibility for consideration under the Academic Appeals procedure. If it is clear that you have not completed the relevant sections of the Appeal form or not supplied any evidence, the case will be rejected immediately.
2) School Response
All eligible cases will be forwarded to your School in order to gather information regarding the case. A response, on a School Response Form, will usually be submitted within 10 working days. Your School will address the the points raised in your appeal, referencing relevant policies and procedures, if applicable. The response should either:
(a) Make a revised recommendation. A written explanation and any relevant evidence should be provided; or
(b) Uphold the original decision. A written explanation and any relevant evidence should be provided.
Should your School issue a revised recommendation which you are unhappy with, or uphold the original decision, the case will then be considered by an Academic Appeal Panel.
3) Case considered by Academic Appeal Panel
The Academic Appeal Panel will comprise three members of the Academic Appeals Committee. No member of the Academic Appeals Panel will have had any prior involvement in your case. This is a 'paper based' review therefore neither you nor a School representative will be required to attend.
The Academic Appeal Panel will discuss the case in detail and base its decisions on the information and evidence submitted within your appeal form as well as the response provided by your School. The Panel may request further evidence if required.
The Academic Appeal Panel may make a range of decisions including:
(i) Reject the appeal and confirm the original decision;
(ii) Uphold the appeal and accept the revised recommendation submitted by School as part of process;
(iii) Uphold the appeal and refer the case back to the School to reconsider;
(iv) Uphold the appeal and substitute another decision, rejecting the revised recommendation submitted by School as part of process, if applicable;
(v) Refer the case to an Academic Appeals Hearing.
4) Case considered at an Academic Appeal Hearing.
If the Appeal Panel are unable to reach a decision, or if they feel that the interests of the case are best served by having the matter discussed in person, they are likely to recommend that an appeal hearing is convened.
You will have the right to attend the hearing in person and can be accompanied by a supporter such as an SU Education Adviser. Your School will also arrange for a representative to attend.
5) Academic Appeal review.
If your appeal is rejected at any stage, and you are unhappy with this decision, you may request an appeal review. This must be done within 10 working days of the outcome and on the Appeal Review Request Form. An appeal review must be able to establish:
- Procedural irregularity in the handling of the formal stage;
- A compelling argument that the decision was not reasonable in the circumstances. Claims of this nature must be supported by evidence and a clear rationale for the unreasonable nature of the decision. Claims that amount simply to an expression of dissatisfaction with the decision will not be considered.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator
If you remain unhappy following conclusion of the above stages, the University will issue you with a Completion of Procedures letter. This allows you pursue your case externally and with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). Any complaint to the OIA must be brought within 1 year of the date of your Completion of Procedures letter.
Who can help?
The Education Advisers can provide advice and support with Academic Appeals . They can also accompany you to University meetings and hearings. They will help you make the best representations you can regarding your 'case' and ensure you follow the correct University procedures.
If you require further help, please email SUAdvice@nottingham.ac.uk.