Appeals procedure

Appeals procedure

1. Introduction

1.1 This document sets out the procedure for the consideration and hearing of academic appeals, established under the Academic Regulations for Bath Spa University which specify that “the Academic Board shall establish a procedure for considering appeals against decision of the Examination Boards”.

1.2 Without prejudice to the outcome of an appeal, a student may continue as a student and to make use of University facilities whilst their appeal is being heard. Therefore, any student making an appeal should continue with his/her studies as normal, including studying for any retakes.

1.3 Academic appeals may not result in early resolution of an issue because of the sovereignty of academic judgement. Students are therefore encouraged to seek clarification of or discuss any concerns about Assessment Board decisions with appropriate members of staff before considering whether to submit a formal appeal. Appropriate members of staff may include the student’s academic tutor, or Course Leader; or staff within the Student Administration Service (Student Services).

2. Principles of the appeals process

2.1 The principles of the appeals process are that:

  • the appeals process should be fair and transparent and that decisions taken should be fair and have due regard to relevant regulations, including the University’s equality provisions, and law
  • appeals will be dealt with within a reasonable timespan
  • confidentiality will be respected, subject to the need for appeals to be investigated
  • members of the appeals panel should not act in cases in which they have been involved or have a particular interest
  • an appellant has a right to be accompanied, though not represented, at an appeals hearing
  • in the event of an appeal being unsuccessful, there shall be a further, limited, right of appeal through the review process.
  • The University will keep the appellant informed of progress throughout the appeals process and will inform the appellant if their expectations appear to go beyond what the University can reasonably provide. 

3. Circumstances in which an appeal may or may not be made

3.1 Appeals may be lodged against the following:

  • decisions of University Assessment Boards relating to results, outcomes, progression and classification
  • decisions of the Mitigating Circumstance panel regarding claims to mitigating circumstances
  • decisions of the Unfair Practice Subcommittee (but see below).

3.2 Appeals may not be lodged against academic judgement. This means, for instance, that a mark cannot be challenged on the grounds that, in the opinion of the student, it is not as high as the work deserved. The decision as to whether an accusation of unfair practice is established is regarded as an academic decision, but students may appeal against any penalty applied by the Unfair Practice Subcommittee.

3.3 Students who are considering lodging an appeal are encouraged to contact the University in the first instance to discuss and clarify any issue regarding their particular circumstances. Contact should be made initially with the Student Administration Service (mycourse@bathspa.ac.uk).

4. Grounds for appeal

4.1 Students have the right to appeal on the following grounds:

  • that their performance in the examination/assessment was adversely affected by illness or other factors that they could not reasonably have been expected to divulge before the Assessment Board reached its decision
  • that there has been a material and significant administrative error
  • that the examination/assessment was not conducted in accordance with the current regulations for the course
  • that some other material and significant irregularity has occurred.

4.2 Appeals on the following grounds will not be considered:

  • against the academic judgement of internal or external Examiners
  • the questioning of academic judgement due to informal assessment of the student’s work by members of academic staff
  • marginal failure to attain a higher class of degree
  • the retrospective reporting of extenuating circumstances which a student might reasonably have been expected to disclose to the Board of Examiners before their meeting, unless good reasons for failure to disclose at the appropriate time can be established.

5. Procedures for applying to the appeals committee

Submitting an appeal

5.1 A student wishing to appeal must submit a fully completed Appeals Application Form, along with medical certificates or other documentary evidence supporting their case, to:

The Secretary of the Appeals Committee
Bath Spa University
Newton St Loe

The form may be submitted electronically to appeals@bathspa.ac.uk.

5.2 The appeal must be submitted within three weeks of the student being notified of the recommendation or decision against which they wish to appeal.

5.3 The appeals application form is available in two formats:

5.4 Receipt of the appeal will be acknowledged by the Secretary to the Appeals Panel.

5.5 Appeals will initially be considered by two ordinary members of the Appeals Panel, who will satisfy themselves that grounds for appeal have been established. Cases which can be resolved outwith the formal Appeals procedure will also be identified at this stage.

5.6 Students submitting invalid appeals will be informed with an explanation of why their appeal was not valid. A decision that an appeal is invalid is final and cannot be challenged through these procedures.

5.7 Students submitting valid appeals will be informed that their appeal will be taken for consideration by the Appeals Panel and invited to attend.

5.8 An appeal which raises a matter which can be resolved outwith the formal Appeals process will be actioned and the appellant contacted accordingly.

6. Appeals Panel

Purpose of Appeals Panel

6.1 The purpose of the Appeals Panel shall be to adjudicate on valid appeals and to determine whether appeals should be upheld and, if so, what further action should be taken.

6.2 The Appeals Panel will provide an annual report of its activities to the Academic Board of the University.

Membership of the Appeals Panel

6.3 The Appeals Panel shall consist of the Chair (a Senior Academic appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, normally the Deputy Vice-Chancellor), one member of academic staff from each School of the University, and the Students’ Union President or their deputy. The Secretary of the Appeals Committee will be present, as will the Registrar who will act in an advisory capacity only.

Attendance by students

6.4 Students attending the meeting of the Appeals Committee may be accompanied by a friend. The friend may speak to support the student, but may not act as the student’s representative. Generally, a student may not engage a member of the legal profession to represent them, though this may be allowed in exceptional circumstances where fitness to practise a profession is at stake.

6.5 If the student is unable to attend the meeting of the Appeals Committee the meeting will nevertheless consider the appeal and the decision made will still be valid.

Appeals Panel Procedure

6.6 Appellants will be notified of the date and time of the Appeals Panel meeting, but the precise time for consideration of a particular appeal will not be specified. Appellants may therefore have to wait while other appeals are considered.

6.7 The proceedings of the Appeals Panel will be formally minuted.

6.8 At the start of each meeting, the Chair will ask members of the Appeals Panel for declarations of interest at will require any member of the Panel who has a close academic connection with an appeal to play no part in the consideration of that appeal.

6.9 The Panel will give consideration to the appeal initially without the appellant being present in the room.

6.10 The appellant will then be invited into the hearing for further consideration of the appeal. During this period the appellant will be invited to address regarding their appeal, and panel members may ask the appellant questions arising from the appeal or their statement. The appellant may also ask their accompanying friend to make a supporting statement, if they so wish.

Decision of the Appeals Panel

6.11 In considering appeals, the Appeals Panel may decide that:

  • The grounds of the appeal are not valid
  • The grounds of the appeal are valid but the appeal is not upheld
  • The grounds of the appeal are valid and the appeal is upheld.

6.12 If the appeal is upheld the Appeal may change an Assessment Board decision by one step, that is to change the status of ‘failed to ‘referred’ or from ‘referred’ to ‘deferred’. In all other instances of a successful appeal, the Appeals Panel will require the Chair of the appropriate Assessment Board to review its original decision in the light of the opinion of the Appeals Committee. In reviewing its decision, the Chair of the Assessment Board would normally be expected to consult at least two other members of the Assessment Board and the External Examiner if one was present.

6.13 The Secretary to the Appeals Panel will inform the appellant in writing of its decision together with brief reasons for its decision within one week of the Appeals Panel meeting. The appellant will be informed of the outcome of any subsequent review by an Assessment Board Chair, and the reasons for that outcome.

6.14 Where an appeal is upheld but subsequent review by the Assessment Board Chair does not result in any material benefit to the appellant, the appellant shall have the right of further appeal to the Appeals Panel.

7. Request for review

7.1 An appellant has the right to request that the decision of the Appeals Panel be reviewed if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeals process. A review may be requested if the appellant considers that:

  • the University did not follows its own appeals procedures or
  • the outcome of the appeal was unreasonable in all the circumstances or
  • they have new material evidence which they were unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process or
  • they have suffered detriment in some other way during the process.

7.2 An appellant wishing to exercise the right to request a review of the decision should notify the Secretary to the Appeals Panel within one week of notification of the outcome of the appeal, specifying why they feel that the decision should be reviewed.

7.3 The request for review will be allocated to a member of the University’s senior staff who has not been involved in the appeal at any previous stage. If the reviewer believes that there are grounds to do so, they will refer the matter back to the Appeals Panel. The outcome of the review will be communicated to the appellant within four weeks of receipt of the request to review.

8. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

Appellants who remain aggrieved after a review of the decision of the Appeals Panel can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. Further information about the OIA is available on the website www.oiahe.org.uk.

Document approved by: Board of Governors, June 2016

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