Academic Appeals

 

The University of East London has an academic appeals process to allow students to appeal against the final decision or result of a module or one of its assessment components if there has been a fault or problem with the assessment or where students with a disability, learning difficulty or additional need have not received the support they are entitled to.

The full details of the appeals process can be found in part of the Manual of General Regulations under Part 7 – Appeals against Assessment Board Decisions.

 

Grounds for Appeal

What are the grounds for appeal?

What is an assessment irregularity or material administrative error?

I’m a student with a disability or learning difficulty, what does it mean that the initial needs assessment was not correctly carried out or the identified support wasn’t provided?

 

Not Grounds for Appeal

Harsh/Inaccurate Marking (Academic Judgement)

Dissatisfaction with Teaching/Dissertation Supervision

Improper Use of Turnitin by the Student

Medical and other personal circumstances

 

Making an appeal – Stage 1

When can I appeal?

How do I start the appeal process?

What is the first stage of the appeal?

What information do I need to make my appeal/complete my appeal form (procedural/administrative error)?

What information do I need to make my appeal/complete my appeal form (I am a student with a learning difficulty or disability and my initial needs assessment was not carried out correctly or the identified support was not provided)?

Attending the Conciliatory Appeal Meeting

 

Formal Investigation – Stage 2

How do I take my appeal further if I don’t accept the decision of the Chair of the Assessment Board?

How does the formal investigation work?

 

Academic Appeals Panel Hearing – Stage 3

What is an Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

How can I prepare for the Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

What are the possible outcomes of the Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

 

If your appeal is not upheld or you are unsatisfied with the outcome – The Office of the Independent Adjudicator

What can I do if I am not happy with the outcome of the appeal process?

How do I get my case reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator?

Can I get advice and representation from the Students Union when taking my case to the OIA?

What are the outcomes that the OIA can come to with my appeal?

 

What can the Students’ Union do to help me?

What can the Students’ Union do to help me?

How can I get advice from the Academic Advice Team?

 

Further information and links to useful policies

Links

 

Grounds for Appeal

What are the grounds for appeal?

The University regulations state that there are only two grounds for appeal:

  • The assessment was not conducted in accordance with the current regulations for the programme, or there has been a material administrative error or some other material irregularity relevant to the assessments has occurred.
  • For a student with a disability or additional need, the initial needs assessment was not correctly carried out, or the support identified was not provided, or the agreed assessment procedures for that student were not implemented.

The regulations also specifically states that “Appeals cannot be made on the grounds of disagreement with the academic judgement of an assessment board.”

The Academic Advice Service supports and advises students on many different circumstances that may or may not fall under the grounds for appeal.

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What is an assessment irregularity or material administrative error?

There is no definitive list of what type of assessment irregularity or administrative error will fall within the grounds for appeal.  If you are making an appeal based on these grounds you will need to demonstrate that there was an irregularity or error, that the error or irregularity was the fault of the University, and that the irregularity or error had a material impact upon you that affected your assessment.

Examples of such errors or irregularities may be:

  • Wrong or no publication of deadline dates
  • Wrong or no publication of exam dates or locations
  • Wrong or no publication of other essential assessment information
  • Where the school have lost coursework you have submitted
  • Not enough notification of deadline or exam dates
  • Turnitin or e-submission Links not set up properly on Moodle
  • Failure by the University to adhere to the 2nd marking or anonymous marking procedures
  • Demonstrable bias by an assessor

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I’m a student with a disability or learning difficulty, what does it mean that the initial needs assessment was not correctly carried out or the identified support wasn’t provided?

If you have registered your disability or learning difficulty with the Dyslexia, Disability and Access Centre (DDAC) then you may be entitled to receive additional support to help you with your studies.  You may be required to go through a needs assessment which will help determine the level of support that you need.  If you are entitled to any additional support a Learning Support Agreement will be created outlining specifically what that support will be.  Examples of such support may include, but are not limited to, mentoring support, technology enhancements, extra time in exams, enhanced teaching and learning techniques.

If there was an error with the way in which the initial needs assessment was carried out or any of the specific elements of the learning support plan have not been put in place then this may be considered as grounds for making an academic appeal.

If you have not registered your disability or learning difficulty with the DDAC and have not notified anyone in the University about your needs then the University cannot be expected to give you any support and you will not be able to make an academic appeal based on the lack of support.  If your disability has only been recently diagnosed then you may have grounds to submit an extenuating circumstances form instead.

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Not Grounds for Appeal

There is no definitive list of what would be considered as not grounds for appeal but below are a few examples of what is often not considered grounds for appeal.

 

Harsh/Inaccurate Marking (Academic Judgement)

Each semester students will complain that they have been marked down, harshly marked or marked incorrectly by the assessor.  If you feel that an assessor has given you the wrong mark for your work then you will not be able to appeal as this will be considered an appeal against their academic judgement.

In the view to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Students in Higher Education (OIA), academic judgment is a judgment that is made about a matter where only the opinion of an academic expert will suffice. The marking, assessing, and grading of a piece of work is an academic judgement, and as such it is not possible for you to make an appeal against this judgement on the grounds that you simply disagree with it. In such circumstances, it will not be possible to ask for your work to be remarked or to make an appeal unless you can demonstrate that the correct procedure for assessing and marking your work has not been followed.

If you do not understand why the assessor has marked the work the way that they have then we would recommend that you make an appointment with you module/programme leader in order to get more feedback and a better understanding of the mark.

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Dissatisfaction with Teaching/Dissertation Supervision

If you are dissatisfied with the standard of teaching on your course or the level of supervision you receive for your dissertation then you may be able to make a complaint.  You should take reasonable steps to raise any issues with teaching or supervision at the earliest opportunity.  You can do this either by using the complaint process or speaking with your programme reps.  The teaching and learning elements and dissertation are not part of the assessment process and so an academic appeal cannot be made where the student is dissatisfied with these.

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Improper Use of Turnitin by the Student

If you have had an issue using Turnitin which is not due to a fault by the University then you will not be able to make an academic appeal.  Students should make sure that they are uploading documents to Turnitin using the correct file format and make sure that files to do not exceed the maximum limit of 20 MB or 400 pages.  Students should also make sure that if they are using their personal computer that their browsers are up to date and the appropriate plugins are enabled.  Students should also be aware that the University will not take responsibility where a student has not left themselves enough time to upload a piece of work and when the Turnitin servers are slow.

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Medical and other personal circumstances

If your performance in an assessment is affected by serious medical circumstances or personal circumstances, such as dealing with a recent family bereavement, then you may be able to apply for extenuating circumstances but you will not be able to make an academic appeal.

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Making an appeal – Stage 1

 

When can I appeal?

The policy allows you to appeal against the decision of the assessment board and as such you can only start the appeal once the decision has been published.  The module and progression results will be published during the 3rd study period.  Ordinarily, once the results have been published you will have 10 working days within in which to start you appeal.

The only exception to this would be an appeal against a decision relating to a PGCE outcome where your have failed a Standards Assessment. In this case the appeal must be made as soon as possible, and must be lodged before the release of results at the end of the academic year. Please book an appointment with us for further advice.

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How do I start the appeal process?

To start the appeal process you simply need to write to appeals@uel.ac.uk to notify the University of your intention to appeal and provide your name, student number, programme of study and the module/progression decision you wish to appeal.  You will then be sent further information about progressing with the first stage of the appeal process and an academic appeal pro forma.

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What is the first stage of the appeal?

The first stage of the appeal is known as the conciliation stage and you are expected to meet the chair of the assessment board.  This is not as daunting as it sounds and the meeting should be an informal discussion about your grounds for appeal and how your issue could be resolved.  You will also need to complete the appeal form and take the form and any accompanying evidence with you to the meeting.  You will be given the instructions of how to arrange a meeting with the chair of the assessment board when you e-mail appeals@uel.ac.uk.

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What information do I need to make my appeal/complete my appeal form (procedural/administrative error)?

If after reading the above information you feel you have grounds for appeal then you will need to complete the appeal form.  At the first stage of the appeal you will need to complete all parts of the appeal form except for section 1.  If you are appealing on the grounds that there is a procedural irregularity then you will need to complete section 3a of the form.

In the case of any procedural irregularities you should list any of the University’s regulations which you feel have not been adhered to in section 3a (the full list of regulations can be found here:  http://www.uel.ac.uk/qa/policies/manual/).  You should also explain in further detail how the assessment failed to comply with the regulations or how an administrative/material irregularity occurred.  You should try to be as specific as possible about what has occurred and include details such as times, dates, locations and people involved.  You should try to think about what other specific information is relevant to supporting your appeal.  If your appeal is too vague then it is less likely to be successful.  You should also, if necessary, be explicit in stating how any procedural or administrative errors have had a negative impact on your assessment.  If there are many elements to your appeal or multiple pieces of information that you need to put on your form then try to present it in a logical way, for example in chronological order.  If you need to you can use additional sheets or documents to present your appeal.

If you have any evidence that supports your appeal then you should, where possible, include this with your appeal form.  The evidence can be any kind of documented evidence such as e-mails, letters, official reports, module guides, programme handbooks, internet screenshots.  You can also include witness statements as evidence though any such evidence must be signed and dated by the person providing the statement.

When you have completed all the necessary parts of the appeal form you should take it with you to the conciliatory meeting with the Chair of the Relevant Assessment Board.  It is not necessary to e-mail or send the appeal form in advance of the meeting to the Chair of the Assessment Board though it may be useful in appeals where you have provided a lot of information and evidence.

An academic caseworker from the Students’ Union Advice Team can give you advice with filling in the form and can look at what you have written and give further suggestions and feedback.

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What information do I need to make my appeal/complete my appeal form (I am a student with a learning difficulty or disability and my initial needs assessment was not carried out correctly or the identified support was not provided)?

If after reading the above information you feel you have grounds for appeal then you will need to complete the appeal form.  At the first stage of the appeal you will need to complete all parts of the appeal form except for section 1.  If you are appealing on the grounds that you are a student with a learning difficulty or disability and the needs assessment was not correctly carried out or the identified support was not provided then you will need to complete section 3b.

If you have registered your disability or learning difficulty with the University then you may be entitled to support and this will be outlined in your learning support agreement (LSA).  If you are appealing because the support outlined in your LSA has not been provided then you should list each of the specific elements of support not provided onto your appeal form.  You should also explain how the lack of support has had an impact on your studies and your performance in assessment.

Some of the support in the LSA may refer to adjustments to the way your assessment has been carried out.  Again, if these adjustments have not been made in accordance to what it says in your LSA then you should list each of these adjustments on your appeal form and explain how it affected your performance in the assessment.

If you are appealing because the initial needs assessment for your disability was not carried out correctly then you will need to state on your appeal form what part of the assessment was not carried out correctly, why you feel it wasn’t carried out correctly and how it has impacted you and your performance on assessment.

If you have not notified the University of your disability then the University cannot be expected to offer any support or adjustments to your course and you will not be able to appeal.

If you have any evidence to support your appeal you should include it with your appeal form.  If you are appealing because parts of your LSA have not been included then you attach your LSA as evidence.  Any other evidence can be such things as e-mails, letters, official reports, module guides, programme handbooks, internet screenshots.  You can also include witness statements as evidence though any such evidence must be signed and dated by the person providing the statement.

An academic caseworker from the Students’ Union Advice Team can give you advice with filling in the form and can look at what you have written and give further suggestions and feedback.

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Attending the Conciliatory Appeal Meeting

As part of the first stage of the appeal you will need to arrange with the relevant Chair of the Assessment Board (the Chair) and you will be given the details of who this person is when you notify the University of your intention to appeal by e-mailing appeals@uel.ac.uk.

Attending a meeting with the chair of the assessment board is not as daunting as it sounds and if you give the Students’ Union Academic Advice Team enough notice we can arrange for one of our caseworkers to attend with you.  The meeting is your chance to present the outline of your appeal and is normally more of an informal discussion between you and the Chair.  You should make sure you cover all the points you have raised in your appeal form and present the evidence to the Chair.  The Chair will most likely ask questions in order to determine the facts of the circumstances in order to make a decision on your appeal.

During the meeting, if you take an Advice Team Caseworker with you, we can help you present your appeal.  We will make sure that you get a fair hearing and make sure that the meeting runs smoothly.  We will also use our knowledge of the University’s practices, policies and regulations to make timely interjections in the meeting to support your appeal.

The meeting will conclude with the Chair either upholding your appeal, declining your appeal or putting the appeal on a short hold to establish other facts outside of the appeal meeting.  If the Chair decides to uphold your appeal then there are various outcomes that may be suggested to resolve your appeal.  You will be able to discuss with the Chair the nature of the outcome.

Upon completion of your appeal at this stage the Chair should complete section 1 of the form with the outcome of the meeting and give it to you.  You will then have to tick a box to say whether you do or don’t agree with the outcome, sign it and then send a copy of the completed form back to appeals@uel.ac.uk or send it to the address on the front of the form.

If you do not accept the outcome of the conciliatory meeting and you tick the box on the form to notify this then when you send it back to appeals@uel.ac.uk a formal investigation into your appeal will commence.

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Formal Investigation – Stage 2

 

How do I take my appeal further if I don’t accept the decision of the Chair of the Assessment Board?

If you do not accept the decision of the Chair of the Assessment Board at the conciliatory stage of the appeal process then you can lodge your appeal formally with Institutional Compliance via the Appeals Officer.  You should do this by either e-mailing appeals@uel.ac.uk or by writing to the address on the front of the appeals form.  The University regulations state that this should be done within 5 days of the conciliatory meeting taking place.

You should provide the Appeals Officer with the completed appeals form, signed by both yourself and the Chair.  You should also provide a statement explaining why you disagree with the decision of the Chair, how you would like to have your appeal resolved and any of the evidence pertaining to your case.

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How does the formal investigation work?

When notification for an appeal has been submitted to Institutional Compliance they will investigate the appeal.  They will try to establish the facts consulting such persons as deemed necessary.  Generally speaking the student submitting the appeal will not be interviewed and much of the investigation will be based upon the information submitted by the student as part of the appeal.  It is therefore very important that if you submit an appeal at this stage that the grounds for appeal are very clear and you have provided all the information and evidence regarding your case as this could be the last opportunity to provide any information to support your appeal.

Once the investigation has been completed the Associate Head of Governance and Legal Services (AHGLS) will consider the details of the investigation and will establish whether there is a prima facie ground for appeal.

If the AHGLS decides that there is a prima facie case then a Formal Academic Appeal Panel will be arranged and you will have the opportunity to present your appeal to the panel. 

If it is decided that there is no prima facie ground for appeal then the appeal will be dismissed and you will have exhausted the University’s appeals procedure.  You will be given a completion of procedures letter and you will be able to seek independent adjudication.

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Academic Appeals Panel Hearing – Stage 3

 

What is an Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

If you have submitted your appeal through the formal stages of the appeal process and it has been agreed by the University that you do have a prima facie case for appeal then you will be given the opportunity to present your case to an academic appeals panel.  The membership of the panel will be a Chair of a different Assessment Board, a member of teaching staff from a different area of the University and a student.  You will be allowed to be accompanied by a friend and if you give the Students’ Union Academic Advice Team reasonable notice we can arrange for an Academic Caseworker to attend with you.  Also present in the appeal will be a representative from the school, who will normally be the Chair of the Assessment Board you saw during the conciliatory meeting, and they will be there to make a case as to why your appeal was rejected at the conciliatory stage.  As well as presenting your case you will also be able to ask questions of the representative from the school.  The school representative and the Academic Appeals Panel will ask you questions in order to determine their decision regarding the appeal.

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How can I prepare for the Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

The Academic Appeals Panel Hearing is your last opportunity for your appeal to be heard by the University so we recommend that you are well prepared before going to the hearing. 

Before the panel is due to take place you should make sure that all the documents relating to your appeal have been submitted.  If there are any additional documents that you want to submit that had not been submitted previously then you should send them to appeals@uel.ac.uk as soon as you can.  If you want to write any additional statements outlining your grounds for appeal then you should also send these as soon as you can.

We would also advise that prior to going to the panel that you think about what you want to say and how you want to present your appeal.  You will have a chance to make an opening statement, to ask questions of the representative from the school, and to make a closing statement.  It is a good idea to write out the opening statement to read to the panel and you can also do this with the closing statement too.  Prior to the panel you should receive all the panel documents including your appeal and evidence and also the case outlined by the school.  Reading this and understanding the schools argument may give you the opportunity to include counter arguments to their case in your opening statement as well as giving you some ideas of the questions that you will want to ask of them.

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What are the possible outcomes of the Academic Appeals Panel Hearing?

After the appeal hearing has been concluded the Academic Appeals Panel will make a judgement on the appeal, based on the balance of probabilities, after considering the information provided by the student and the school.

If the panel decide to uphold your appeal then they will explain the basis for why they have upheld your appeal and how they recommend to resolve the issue.  This recommendation will then be provided to the school who will take action on the recommendations.  These recommendations will be considered on a case by case basis and there is no defined list of what these recommendations will be.

If the Academic Appeals Panel decide not to uphold your appeal then then the case will be dismissed and the original decision concerning the assessment or award decision you are appealing against will stand.

 

If your appeal is not upheld or you are unsatisfied with the outcome – The Office of the Independent Adjudicator

 

What can I do if I am not happy with the outcome of the appeal process?

If you are not happy with the outcome of the appeal process then you could refer your case to be reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).  The OIA will only look at your case once you have completed the internal appeals process after which the University will give you a Completion of Procedures Letter.

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How do I get my case reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator?

To request a review of your case by the OIA you must complete their application form which can be found online.  You must submit your application within 12 months of the Completion of Procedures Letter being sent to you.  There are other criteria for eligibility to appeal to the OIA and you can find out about this on the OIA website.

You must complete all parts of the form either by completing the online application form or by printing the form off and posting it to the OIA.  There is plenty of advice and guidance on the OIA website and we would recommend that you read this before submitting your claim.

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Can I get advice and representation from the Students Union when taking my case to the OIA?

We can offer you advice and guidance on the process of appealing to the OIA.  We can also give you some advice on completing the application form and give you feedback on what you have written.

Part of the appeal form does allow you to name a representative who can deal with your claim and liaise with the OIA on your behalf.  As the OIA will only liaise with one person concerning your appeal we would advise that you do not name one of the Academic Advice Caseworkers as your representative on this part of the form.  If the OIA need to ask for further clarification, details or other questions it is normally better for the person making the appeal to correspond with the OIA.

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What are the outcomes that the OIA can come to with my appeal?

Upon considering your case the OIA can determine if your appeal was justified, partly justified or unjustified.

If your appeal is justified or partly justified the OIA will contact the University with any recommendations to resolve your case.  Again, there is no defined list for what these outcomes may be.

If your appeal is unjustified then your case will be dismissed and the original decision concerning the assessment or award decision you are appealing against will stand.  The OIA does have its own appeal process if you are not satisfied with their decision.

 

What can the Students’ Union do to help me?

 

What can the Students’ Union do to help me?

The Students’ Union Academic Advice Team can advise you on all of the above information as well as the specifics and details of the Appeals regulations and any of the other University regulations and policies that may relate to your appeal.

We will also be able to help you establish if you have grounds for appeal and give advice on your case.  We can give you advice and guidance on your appeal form and offer feedback and recommendations on what you have written.  We can help you determine what sort of evidence will be useful to your case and how you might be able to obtain it.

We can also attend any meetings or panels to make sure you get a fair hearing and help you make your case with our knowledge and experience of the University’s regulations and practices.

We will also offer you advice and guidance about taking your appeal to review through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

You can see our full service standards here:  http://www.uelunion.org/advice/standards/

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How can I get advice from the Academic Advice Team?

If you want advice on the appeals process we would recommend that you read the advice on this page.  If you feel that you have grounds to make an appeal then you can either e-mail us for advice at studentadvice@uel.ac.uk or call 0208 223 7025 to book an appointment.

If you would like us to attend any meetings or panels with you then please do try and contact us as early as we can.  We do become very busy during the period where module results have just been published so it is important to try and give us as much notice as you can so that we can arrange to attend the meeting with you.

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Further information and links to useful policies

 

Links

You can find the link to the appeals regulation here.  We have also included a few other policies relating to assessment which, if you believe, have not been adhered to could support your grounds for appeal.

The University Appeals Page
Appeal Form
University policy: Appeals Against Assessment Board Decision
Assessment and Feedback Policy
Dissertation Supervision Policy
Turnitin Policy

 

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