K1.1 An academic appeal is a challenge to, or request for reconsideration of a decision made by the University, in relation to decisions on student progress, assessment and awards.
K1.2 This procedure relates to appeals against the following outcomes:
- Formally-released module results
- The decision of an Assessment Board regarding a module or group of modules
- A progression decision made by an Assessment Board or Research Committee
- Outcome of a Request for Additional Consideration decision
- A decision of withdrawal for non-engagement
- A decision of withdrawal from the DBS panel
- Outcome of Postgraduate Research Confirmation / Transfer of Registration milestone
- Outcome of Postgraduate Research final assessment
K1.3 An academic appeal can be made by a registered student or student studying with a partner institution in collaborative arrangements on a University of Derby award. Academic appeals can be made by a previously registered student or a recent graduate if submitted within 10 working days of the date of formal publication of module results or decisions listed in K1.2
K1.4 The University will only accept an appeal on a student’s behalf from a Union of Students representative, a parent/guardian or other third party where the student has provided written authority for them to do so. Where consent is provided to and accepted by the University, we still require engagement from the student and all communications relating to this process will be copied to the third party. The University reserves the right not to engage with a third party if, in the view of the University, they do not behave in a way that supports the spirit of resolution.
K1.5 Where decisions applied relate to Professional Statutory Regulatory Bodies (PSRB) regulations, the University would be unable to investigate as they relate to professional standards and registration, for example a decision not to allow an exceptional retake in the event of personal circumstances.
K1.6 Assessment may take a variety of forms including dissertation, examination, project, essay, presentation, practical work or any other exercise which is designed to enable Students to demonstrate achievement.
K1.7 Prior to submitting an appeal, students are encouraged to raise concerns informally with members of the Programme Team, College Student Centre or, in the case of postgraduate research students with their supervisory team. When a student is seeking to resolve a dispute informally, those dealing with the student should inform the student about the procedures for Academic Appeal. Seeking an informal resolution does not take away the student’s right to invoke the formal procedure, subject to relevant timescales.
K1.8 Where the term “relevant Research Committee” appears in this document, it relates to either a College (or other similar body) Research Committee or the University Research Committee, as appropriate to the issue involved for postgraduate research students.
K1.9 Impartial advice on how best to raise issues is available from the College Student Centre, Online Learning Advisors and the Union of Students.
K1.10 It is important that students ensure that any circumstance which they feel could adversely affect their performance is recorded in accordance with the published procedures and within the deadlines set down in those procedures:
- Request for Additional Consideration
It is unlikely that an appeal on this basis will be successful if the student has not accessed support and processes available, prior to appeal. It is expected that level 3 of the Request for Additional Consideration policy is used to mitigate impact of personal circumstances.
If the student’s circumstances have already been considered under the relevant procedures, the student will need to explain why they think the process was not followed correctly or why the outcome was disproportionate.
K1.11 Relevant information will be disclosed to the investigator in order to fully investigate the appeal and will be treated confidentially.
K1.12 If an academic appeal is submitted that would be more appropriately dealt with through other University procedures, the University reserves the right to re-direct it on to be considered by the relevant department.
K1.13 Students with an appeal ongoing through the University’s procedure will be able to attend an awards ceremony. Dependant on the outcome of the appeal students may be required to return their certificate to the University so that an updated certificate can be issued.
K1.14 The University will seek to learn from issues raised through the organisational learning process.
K2 Valid Grounds for Appeal
K2.1 The burden of proof lies with the student to demonstrate valid grounds. Students can only appeal against an assessment result, a decision of an Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee, a decision relating to student progress, for one or more of the following valid grounds:
i. Further to K1.10 and the opportunity for support in the Request for Additional Consideration policy; that the student’s performance in an assessment still suffered through compelling circumstances which could not have been reasonably reported at the time of the assessment. Students who base an appeal on this ground will be expected to demonstrate and evidence why the circumstances could not have been reported earlier and supportive procedures followed.
ii. There has been a procedural irregularity in any part of the assessment, or in the way a decision has been reached or other relevant process to which the appeal relates.
iii. There is evidence of bias, or reasonable perception of bias. The OIA defines bias as ‘a tendency to treat one person or group, thing or point of view more or less favourably than another, especially in a way considered to be unfair’.
iv. In relation to an appeal against the decision of withdrawal for non-engagement or the DBS panel; if there is relevant new evidence or information which could not have been reasonably provided at the time of the decision being made. Students who base their appeal on this ground will be expected to show why the evidence could not have been submitted at an earlier point in the process.
K2.2 For valid grounds to appeal the outcome of a Request for Additional Consideration decision, please refer to section 11 of the Request for Additional Consideration Policy.
K3 Invalid Grounds for Appeal
K3.1 Students cannot appeal against academic judgement, see F3.1 and G3.1. If an appeal is assessed as based on academic judgement the University reserves the right to reject it without further investigation.
K3.2 Students cannot make an appeal based on a complaint which was not formally recorded at least 5 working days prior to completion of the assessment process, i.e. formal release of results, see F8.9 and G9.6.
In cases where such a formal complaint has been made, but not satisfactorily resolved, the complaint investigation will be completed before consideration of the appeal. If the circumstances can be shown to have had an effect on the student’s performance any relevant findings may be subsequently taken into account in considering the appeal.
K4 Making an Appeal
There are two routes by which students can make an appeal:
- University of Derby Awards: This route is used for all programmes leading to an award of the University of Derby including those studied with a collaborative partner. These programmes are subject to an Assessment Board or, in the case of postgraduate research degrees, the appointed PhD examiners or examiners of DProf independent studies and relevant Research Committee.
- External Awards: This route is used for a programme of study leading to an award of an external body or in partnership with an external body, for example, CIPS, CIMA, ACCA, CIM, Diploma in Acoustics and Noise (See A4).
K5 Appeal Procedure - University of Derby Awards
K5.1 It is recommended that students approach members of the Programme Team, the Module Leader or in the case of postgraduate research students, the supervision team to raise concerns informally and seek clarification.
K5.3 If not resolved the student completes and submits an Academic Appeal Form, along with supporting evidence. This should be submitted to the Student Policy and Regulations team within 10 working days of the date of formal publication of module results or decisions listed in K1.2 (publication is the earliest point of notification on UDo/College Student Centre system or written confirmation in the form of an email / letter from the College, Assessment Board or Research Committee).
Students are expected to ensure all relevant evidence and information is included, as an investigation will be based on what is provided. Missing information may result in delays in investigating the appeal, or rejection of the appeal submission.
K5.4 Within 5 working days of receipt, the form will be acknowledged and checked to ensure that it complies with the following:
i. It is fully completed (including desired outcome, signature).
ii. All relevant evidence is attached – the burden of proof is on the student to provide relevant evidence. If students experience difficulty obtaining evidence within the deadline, they are expected to provide notification of this when submitting the appeal form.
iii. The case is clearly stated and relates to one of the previously listed valid grounds for appeal in K2.
iv. It has been submitted within the 10 working day timescale.
K5.5 The University reserves the right to reject an appeal submission without further investigation if it fails to comply with any of the above.
K5.6 If the appeal is submitted outside of the 10 working days timescale, students are expected to provide compelling reasons with evidence to support why they could not meet the 10 working day deadline. It is only under exceptional circumstances that the University would consider opening a case that is not submitted to deadline.
K5.7 The University reserves the right to reject an appeal submission without further investigation if the student fails to demonstrate and evidence why the personal circumstances could not have been reported earlier and supportive procedures followed.
K5.8 The Student Policy and Regulations team will advise the student on next steps with their appeal. If further information is required to assess the appeal, the student will be advised they will have a further 10 working days to provide the requested information.
K6 Formal Investigation
K6.1 If the appeal is accepted in line with the requirements of K5.4, the Student Policy and Regulations team will assess if there remains opportunity for local resolution, or if the appeal can be re-directed to supportive procedures. If this is not possible, the appeal will be formally investigated. Students will be advised that the anticipated timescale for investigation is 20 working days. If it is not possible to provide an outcome to the investigation in the timeframe, an update will be sent to the student detailing the revised timescales for response.
K6.2 For the formal investigation an investigator will be appointed. This will be a Chair of an Assessment Board, or Chair of a Research Committee or Chair of a Request for Additional Consideration panel. The investigator will not have been involved in the original decision. The investigator will be sent the appeal form and supporting evidence provided by the student. The programme team will be notified that the appeal is being investigated.
K6.3 It is best practice for the investigator to speak to the student, to provide them with the opportunity to explain their appeal. The investigator is expected to consult with the programme team and any relevant parties as part of their investigation.
K6.4 Possible outcomes of the formal investigation:
i. Appeal not justified.
If the investigator establishes that the appeal is not properly based on one of the acceptable grounds in section K2, they will recommend that the appeal be turned down.
ii. Appeal justified.
If the investigator establishes that the student does have grounds for appeal, they will recommend that the appeal is upheld, outlining a proposed remedy. The investigator is expected to discuss any proposed remedy with the programme team prior to communication with the student. Any such actions relating to assessments, awards and progress decisions may be confirmed by Chair’s action and reported to the next meeting of the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee.
K6.5 If after the formal investigation the investigator is unable to make a decision the matter will be referred to Appeals Review.
K6.6 The Student Policy and Regulations team will notify the student of the decision and indicate the reasons why, ensuring that issues raised are responded to.
K6.7 The student will be deemed to have accepted this decision unless they reject it by informing the Student Policy and Regulations team in writing giving reasons, within 10 working days of receiving formal notification. If the student does not respond within the timescale the case will be closed and the student will be issued with a Completion of Procedures letter confirming the University’s internal procedure has been completed.
K6.8 The Student Policy and Regulations team will notify the Programme Team and Head of Discipline of the outcome and required actions.
K7 Appeals Review
K7.1 Where the outcome is rejected by the student, they may request an Appeals Review, for one or more of the following valid grounds:
i. Procedures were not followed.
ii. Available evidence was not taken into account.
iii. The student is submitting new evidence. Relevant evidence not available at the time and a compelling reason must be given why this was not included/not made available at the time of the original appeal submission.
K7.2 Receipt of the Appeals Review request will be acknowledged to the student by the Student Policy and Regulations team within 5 working days, advising of next steps.
The request for Appeals Review will be assessed by the Student Policy and Regulations team or nominee in line with the valid grounds specified in K7.1. They may also consider returning the appeal to the investigator to seek further clarification. Where the appeal is returned to the investigator, they will be advised to consider the points raised and revise their response, which will be sent to the student within 10 working days.
K7.3 The University reserves the right to reject the request for an Appeals Review if the student fails to demonstrate and evidence valid grounds specified in K7.1.
K7.4 If the Appeals Review request is accepted in line with the requirements of K7.1, the PVC Dean for the College, or nominee, will review the Academic Appeal and will either:
- Determine whether to uphold the decision of the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee, decision relating to student progress or published result.
- Require the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee to annul its decision; or rescind the decision relating to student progress or the published result.
K7.5 In a case concerned with the examination of doctoral research degrees the Appeals Review cannot set aside the recommendation of the examiners or recommend the award of a research degree, but may:
- Invite the examiners to reconsider their recommendation in the light of the new Information.
- Appoint new examiners to undertake a full re-examination (this will not be deemed a second attempt).
The recommendations of any new examiners are accepted as final.
K7.6 The outcome of the Appeals Review will normally be communicated to the student within 20 working days of the Appeal Review request being accepted. The outcome of the Appeals Review will be submitted in confidence to the Chair of the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee, and may be used in continual monitoring processes and, where appropriate, submitted to the Chair of the University Research Committee.
K7.7 The Appeals Review will not normally be a formal hearing and there is no expectation that the Review will require any further investigation of the appeal. A Review will consider;
- Whether the University’s policies and procedures have been followed;
- Whether the previous investigations and outcomes were proportionate, arrived at fairly and in accordance with published procedures and policies, applied in a fairway;
K7.8 The decision of the Appeals Review is final. (See K8)
K7.9 If the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee is required to annul its decision or rescind the decision relating to student progress or the published result, then it must agree appropriate arrangements for the student to complete any outstanding assessment requirements as quickly as practicable and notify the student accordingly.
Such arrangements may be agreed by a full meeting of the Assessment Board/relevant Research Committee, convened especially for the purpose, or by an agreed sub-set of the Board/relevant Research Committee which must include the Chair or nominee, programme leader and External Examiner/Chair or nominee of the Relevant Research Committee.
K8 Completion of the University's Internal Procedures
K8.1 The student will be issued with a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter automatically after the completion of the internal processes if the appeal is not upheld. If the appeal is upheld or partly upheld, then the student will be advised they can ask for a COP Letter if they remain dissatisfied, and this will be issued automatically if the student then requests one.
K8.2 Following the Appeals Review, the University will confirm that the internal procedure has been completed.
K8.3 The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) runs an independent scheme to review student complaints. The University of Derby is a member of this scheme. If you are unhappy with the outcome you may be able to ask the OIA to review your academic appeal. You can find more information about making a complaint to the OIA, what it can and can’t look at and what it can do to put things right if something has gone wrong via: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students
You normally need to have completed the Academic Appeal procedure before you complain to the OIA. We will send you a letter called a “Completion of Procedures Letter” when you have reached the end of our processes and there are no further steps you can take internally. If your academic appeal is not upheld, we will issue you with a Completion of Procedures Letter automatically. If your academic appeal is upheld or partly upheld you can ask for a Completion of Procedures Letter if you want one. You can find more information about Completion of Procedures Letters and when you should expect to receive one via: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/providers/completion-of-procedures-letters
K9 Appeal Procedure: External Awards
K9.1 Appeals relating to the formal internal publication of results: Internal Review:
The student makes an appeal by completing a Student’s Results Query Form, clearly identifying the reason on which the appeal is based (by reference to K2 above) and sends it to the College Student Centre within 10 working days of receiving the result in writing.
The query will be referred to the appropriate programme leader for investigation, or to the Head of the Subject if the programme leader is involved in the circumstances leading to the appeal.
K9.2 Where the outcome of the investigation is clear e.g. an administrative error, the programme leader will recommend appropriate remedial action to the PVC Dean/Director or nominee responsible for the student’s programme for approval and immediate implementation. This action will be notified to the student in writing.
K9.3 Where investigation does not immediately resolve the appeal the programme leader will request a review process on the following basis:
- Competence-based programmes through the Internal Verifier
- All other programmes through the course co-ordinator.
K9.4 The programme leader will notify the student in writing of the outcome of the review. This will be copied to the student’s file and to the Student Policy and Regulations team.
K9.5 If the student is dissatisfied with the outcomes of the review, they may proceed to the next stage of appeal.
K9.6 Appeals relating to the outcome of internal review:
i. The student submits a Formal Appeal Form to the Academic Registrar or nominee setting out clearly and identifying the reasons for appeal as stipulated in paragraph 2 above and including relevant supporting evidence. The student must submit such an appeal within 10 working days of having been informed in writing of the programme leader outcome of the internal review.
ii. Receipt of the appeal will be acknowledged to the student by the Academic Registrar or nominee, who will advise them on the anticipated timescale for the investigation.
iii. The appeal is copied to the relevant PVC Dean/Director responsible for the student’s programme.
iv. The Academic Registrar or nominee may collect written evidence from the relevant members of staff and the internal verifier/moderator and will consult with the relevant PVC Dean/Director responsible for the student’s programme.
v. If, after the above consultation, the Academic Registrar or nominee establishes that the appeal is not properly based on one of the acceptable grounds set out in paragraph 2 above, they will recommend to a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Executive or nominee that the appeal is turned down.
vi. The Academic Registrar or their nominee will notify the student of the decision, indicating the reasons why.
vii. If the Academic Registrar or their nominee and the relevant PVC Dean/Director or nominee establish that the student does have grounds for appeal then the PVC Dean/Director or nominee will consult the relevant teaching team in the College to agree what action should be taken to correct the matters referred to in the appeal.
viii. The relevant PVC Dean/Director or nominee will notify the outcome to the Academic Registrar or nominee who will inform the student in writing of the action to be taken to resolve the appeal.
ix. The student is deemed to have accepted this resolution unless they reject it in writing within 10 working days of receiving written confirmation of the decision and indicates their intention to appeal to the Awarding Body.