C15: Student Academic Appeals Policy

1.   Introduction

  • Students have a right of appeal against academic decisions and recommendations made by Examination Boards 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.
  • 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 portfolios, are not subject to these procedures. They should instead be raised under ORMS E8 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.
  • These procedures describe how students may submit an academic appeal to ORMS 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 member of faculty a student is still in doubt over any matter relating to an intended appeal, advice may be sought from the following:
    (a) ORMS Administration Manager
    (b) ORMS Quality Manager
  • Academic appeals come under the authority of the Board of Directors, who have 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 The Board.
  • Staff named in these procedures may also delegate responsibility for managing the Academic Appeals procedure to other ORMS staff acting on their behalf.
  • Appeals will be treated with due diligence and confidentiality, but students 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. Students should appreciate that appeals will not always produce the outcome preferred. However, whatever the decision, the appellant will be informed of the result of a formal appeal and the reasons for it.
  • If the academic appeal is of a particularly sensitive nature, and you would like to make some early enquiries on a confidential basis, please contact ORMS Administration or Quality Managers, who may be able to offer you advice.
  • The submission of an appeal will not be to the detriment of your academic position.
  • For 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 Student Conduct, Student Appeals or other appropriate College Committees.
  • Assessments subject to these procedures are those that contribute to the award of credit and/or progression.

2.   Right of Appeal

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

  • A Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) decision at application
  • a formal assessment result
  • an award classification
  • a decision consequential to an academic failure (e.g. termination of registration)
  • the decision reached is one which no reasonable body, properly directing itself, could have arrived at (for Mitigation Appeals)
  • a decision consequential to unsatisfactory academic progress

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

3. Grounds of Appeal

Grounds of appeal in relation to the areas listed under para 2.2 above are allowed as follows:

    • Material circumstances affecting your performance of which a Board of Examiners (or the Board 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
    • Procedural irregularities in the formal conduct of an assessment or in reaching another academic decision; and/or
    • Evidence of prejudice or of bias on the part of one or more examiners and/or markers.

4. Exclusions from Appeal

  • The following grounds cannot be considered as the basis for an appeal:
    • Dissatisfaction with the academic judgment of the internal and external examiners and/or markers including the Board of Examiners (see 4.2);
    • 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;
    • Matters of dispute that are dealt with under the ORMS E8 Complaints Procedures (see also 4.3).
  • 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.
  • 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 ORMS E8 Complaints Procedures.15
  • 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.
  • 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

  • You should note with care the time constraints outlined in these procedures. You are responsible for compiling documentation in support of an appeal. 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.
  • It is your responsibility to inform your Course Leader or ORMS Head of Administration 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.
  • You are reminded that under ORMS’ procedures for the disclosure of assessment results, you have access to your marks under prescribed conditions.
    General feedback on your performance should be offered by ORMS tutors, thereby possibly reassuring you of the appropriateness of the outcome of an assessment.

6.   Stage 1: Appeal to Quality Manager

  • A formal appeal must be submitted using the Stage 1 Appeal Form to the Quality Manager (or their representative) 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.
  • ORMS will normally aim to resolve an academic appeal within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal, or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.
  • On receipt of the appeal the Quality Manager or nominated representative shall decide whether you have presented a prima facie case for appeal as set out under 3.1. Should an appeal materially involve the Quality Manager, another senior member of ORMS staff will consider the case.
  • If no prima facie grounds for appeal are found, the Quality Manager or their representative can dismiss the appeal, informing you in writing of the reasons for doing so. ORMS will aim to fully address all issues raised in the student’s Stage 1 appeal in their response letter.
  • If the Quality Manager /representative decides that there is a prima facie case for appeal, the case will be investigated by an Appeal Panel consisting of the Director of Education, the Business Director and Chair of the Board of Examiners (or other nominees as delegated by the Board of Directors). 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.
  • If the panel upholds the appeal, the case will normally be referred back to the Board of Examiners or appropriate committee (such as Extenuating Circumstances Committee). In this case, the course team should follow their normal procedures for considerations by the Board of Examiners, including involvement of External Examiners where appropriate. 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.
  • The Director of Education will normally inform the appellant of the outcome of the Board of Examiner’s consideration, and this will be reported to the appropriate faculty team.

7.   Stage 2: Academic Appeal Committee

  • An appeal will only be accepted if:
    • you submit further material circumstances which could not reasonably have been expected to have been submitted for consideration to an Appeal Panel during the Stage 1 process;
    • there is evidence of procedural irregularity during the Stage 1 process;
    • there is evidence of bias during the Stage 1 process;
    • 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.
  • You should submit a Stage 2 Appeal to the ORMS Administration Manager 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 ORMS in respect of their decision.
  • ORMS should normally aim to resolve an academic appeal within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal, or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.
  • A member of the Quality team, (as nominee of the Head of Governance and Compliance) and a Head of Faculty past or present (or nominee) will consider whether there are prima facie grounds for considering the case before a Committee of Academic Appeal.
  • If no prima facie grounds for appeal are found, a member of the Quality team and Head of Faculty (or nominee) will dismiss the appeal, informing you in writing of the reasons for doing so.
  • If it is decided that there are prima facie grounds for a stage 2 appeal, a member of the Quality team will arrange for a (non-standing) Academic Appeal Committee to be convened.
  • 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

  • An Academic Appeal Committee shall comprise:
    • A Director of ORMS;
    • A member of the Quality Team.
    • A senior tutor
      No person shall serve as a member of the Academic Appeal Committee who is also associated with your Discipline and/or programme of study.
  • You will be informed of the date of the meeting of the Committee meeting at least 10 working days in advance. You may choose to appear before the Committee but the Committee may also hear a case, by mutual agreement, in your absence.
  • You may be accompanied by a colleague or friend, normally a member of the ORMS student body. You must inform the Administration Manager 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.
  • The Committee will also invite the Director of Education (or appropriate representative) and may call other members of ORMS. The Committee may also consider written comment by the External Examiners made during the examining process or in response to a direct enquiry by the Committee.
  • 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. Such documentation will normally comprise the original notice of appeal, papers relevant to the appeal’s earlier consideration by ORMS and the reasons of the Quality team member for referring the case to the Committee.
  • The meeting will commence with private discussions within the Appeal Committee to clarify matters of process. Both you, the person accompanying you and the Director of Education (or their nominee) may then attend throughout the duration of the hearing.
  • First you, and then the Director of Education and will be asked to give a statement about the case, and to answer any questions from the Committee. Then any other members of academic or other staff implicated in the appeal will be interviewed in turn by the Committee.
  • You, the person accompanying you and the Director of Education will then be asked to leave while the Committee considers its decision. The Committee, having considered the evidence, may uphold or reject the appeal, such a decision being final.
    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 Board of Directors’ approval.
  • The Academic Appeal Committee will keep a record of its deliberations and decisions and submit a report to the Board of Directors. 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 regarding Unsatisfactory Progress

  • You should submit an Academic Appeal form – Unsatisfactory Progress to the Administration Manager together with a written statement detailing your grounds for appeal within 10 working days of being notified of the final decision made by the Faculty Dean.
  • 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 ORMS 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.
  • ORMS aims to resolve your appeal within four working weeks of receipt or otherwise inform you of the expected delay.
  • A member of the Quality team, (as nominee of the Head of Governance and Compliance) and a Head of Faculty past or present (or nominee) who has not previously been involved in the case will consider whether there are grounds for appeal.
  • A member of the Quality team and the Head of Faculty 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
  • If the appeal is dismissed, this exhausts ORMS’ internal appeals process and a final decision will be issued by the Board of Directors.

10.         Completion of the Appeal Process

  • There are no other appeal procedures beyond those stages detailed above.

11.         Annual Report

Each year a report will be prepared for the Board of Directors detailing general matters or issues arising from recent academic appeals.