Academic Appeals

 

All grades for summative assessments are deemed as provisional until they are confirmed by the Examining Board. When they are confirmed, the University’s Academic Appeals Procedure allows you to appeal the decision of the Examining Board under the rules set out in the Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure.

 

These rules state that the grounds under which you can raise an appeal are limited to:

 

  • an arithmetical or other error of fact in the results issued following the decision of the Examining Board; and/or

 

  • an irregularity in the conduct of the assessment, the written instructions, or written advice relating to the assessment, where this can be shown to have had an adverse effect on the outcome and which was not known by the Examining Board at the time it considered your results, or which known to the Examining Board and where the Examining Board has made an unreasonable decision; and/or

 

  • any extenuating circumstances which can be shown to have had an adverse effect on your academic performance, which were unknown by the Examining Board and could not have been made known to the Examining Board by you before the School deadline, or which were known to the Examining Board and where the Examining Board has made an unreasonable decision. The University’s definition of extenuating circumstances is defined in the University’s Extenuating Circumstance Procedure.

 

Appeals submitted for any other reason will not be accepted. You cannot challenge academic judgment or appeal because you think you deserve a higher mark.

 

How to Write Your Appeal

 

The Appeals Procedure is your opportunity to challenge the decision made by the Examining Board. It is essential that you clearly explain how you have an arguable case under one or more of the permitted grounds. If you do not show how your case fits under one of the three grounds above, your appeal will be rejected.

 

Arithmetical error or other error of fact

 

This ground is usually easy to explain, e.g. your assessment marks added up to a total of 55% but your module mark states 50%, or your feedback states that you did not include graphs when you did. You cannot ask for your paper to be re-marked but you can explain that you are concerned that the marks may not have been added up correctly. Be careful not to sound like you are challenging academic judgment or your appeal may be rejected.

 

Irregularity in the conduct of the assessment

 

You must explain

  • what the irregularity was in the conduct of the assessment and/or in the written instructions or advice relating to the assessment you are appealing; and
  • how it had an adverse effect on the outcome of the assessment; and
  • if known to the Examining Board, why their decision was unreasonable. If you do not know whether the Examining Board were aware of the irregularity or not, you can say this in your appeal and still explain why their decision would have been unreasonable if they did.

 

Extenuating circumstances

 

For appeals on this ground you will need to address two points:

 

1. The first section asks you to outline your extenuating circumstances and how they have impacted you in the assessments you are appealing. This means you need to

 

  • Explain your circumstances and explain how they meet the University’s definition of being severe and exceptional and unavoidable or unforeseen; and
  • Explain the chronology of your circumstances and include any key dates. If the circumstances were not close in time to the assessments you are appealing, you must explain how the circumstances continued to have an impact on your academic performance; and
  • Spell out exactly how the circumstances affected your ability to study and perform at your usual level. Did you lose time? Were you unable to concentrate or retain information? It is risky to leave it to the reader of your appeal to infer the impact of your circumstances when they have no previous knowledge of you or your case.

 

2. The next section asks if you reported your circumstances on an Extenuating Circumstances Form to the Examining Board by the School deadline.

 

  • If yes, you must then explain whether the circumstances were accepted or rejected. If accepted, you must explain why the subsequent action taken by the Examining Board was unreasonable. If rejected, you must explain why the decision to reject was unreasonable.
  • If no, you must provide good reason why you could not have reported your circumstances on time. From our experience, this is where most appeals fail: If the reason you give is not deemed good enough, your appeal will be rejected and your circumstances will not be considered. It is really important to think about what you write here and how you explain your reason. The University is not asking why you ‘did not’ report but why you ‘could not’.

 

Make sure when you are writing your appeal that it is clear and easy to read and that you stick to the relevant points. Structure it so that each point is in a separate paragraph and linked to the relevant evidence. It is up to you to explain how you have an arguable case under one or more of the permitted grounds. Don’t risk your points being lost in emotion or amongst too much irrelevant detail.

 

Tips for Writing Your Appeal

 

The majority of academic appeals are unfortunately not successful. Common mistakes include:

 

  • Failure to address key points;
  • Failure to identify sound arguments;
  • Insufficient evidence;
  • Irrelevant evidence;
  • Proliferation of weak arguments;
  • Poor writing skills;
  • Wrong tone (e.g. aggressive or accusatory);
  • Appeal statement is too short;
  • Appeal statement is too long, and;
  • Appeal statement lacks structure.

 

We would encourage you to read the attached ‘Writing a Winning Student Appeal’ handout written by experts in academic appeals.

 

How to Appeal

 

To appeal, you should log in to your Student Record via SIMS and click on the ‘manage/submit an appeal’ link. Complete the online form and include all of the evidence that you wish to be considered alongside your appeal.

 

Providing Evidence

 

You must usually provide evidence to support everything you say in your appeal. Evidence should ideally be independent and support all elements of your argument.

 

If you are appealing on the grounds of an irregularity, your evidence should support the irregularity and the negative impact on you.

 

If you are appealing on the grounds of extenuating circumstances, your evidence should ideally confirm

  • the circumstances you explain; and
  • The impact on you and specifically your ability to study and perform at your usual level; and
  • Why you could not have reported the circumstances on time.

 

If you can get evidence of the impact of the circumstances on you and your studies, you do not necessarily need evidence of the circumstances themselves. In exceptional cases the University may accept evidence of the circumstances as evidence of the impact and inability to report on time.

 

For most cases of extenuating circumstances, evidence will be in the form of a letter from a doctor, counsellor or other medical professional or support service. If you are requesting a note as evidence make sure you explain that you ideally need confirmation of the circumstances, their professional opinion on the possible impact on your study and their professional opinion on whether the circumstances could have prevented you from reporting the circumstances on time.

 

Please let Student Advice know if you are struggling to think of what evidence you can get or if you have any questions about what is evidence is best.

 

Timescales

 

If you would like to appeal, you generally have 28 days from the date of the email notifying you of your official result. If you have missed the deadline you may still submit an appeal but the University will only accept it if you evidence very good reason for not submitting on time – usually, though not exclusively, an impairment of judgement caused by a mental health problem.

 

An important point you need to be aware of is that once you have submitted an appeal, the appeals process can take many months to complete.

 

The University regulations and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator require the University to conclude the Academic Appeal process within 90 calendar days of submission. There are occasionally cases where the University will breach those timescales, at which point students may make a formal complaint and/or refer the appeal to the OIA.

 

The appeal process

 

Once you have submitted your appeal it will be reviewed by a Student Cases Officer, who will decide if your appeal is within the permitted grounds and has relevant evidence. If so, it will be considered. If not, your appeal will be rejected. You should be informed of this decision within 14 days.

 

The Student Cases Officer may then contact the Chair of the Examining Board for your School and request further information, such as any extenuating circumstances forms you previously submitted. You are usually expected to submit everything you want to be considered at the time of your appeal but, in exceptional circumstances, Student Cases may request further information from you or ask for clarification.

 

The Student Cases Officer should then make a decision on your appeal and consult with a senior member of the Student Cases Team to ensure their decision is proportional to the circumstances. The Student Cases Officer can decide to:

 

  • Reject your appeal if it does not meet one of the stated grounds.

 

  • Uphold your appeal (either completely or in part) and refer your case back to a reconvened Examining Board. In some cases, the decision of the Board may not change but the Examining Board will be asked to reconsider your case, taking into consideration the error, irregularity or extenuating circumstances as appropriate.

 

  • If arithmetical error has been identified, confirm the correct outcome in a re-issued transcript and amend your student record.

 

You should receive an email confirming the decision within 60 days of the appeal being received by the Student Cases Team. The email should also explain any reasons for the University’s decision.

 

If your appeal is rejected, or only partially upheld, and you feel your appeal was incorrectly processed or unreasonable, you can challenge the decision under the University Review Procedure.

 

 

Other External Guidance

 

The OIA has a range of case studies available if you would like to look for similar cases to yours and cite them as precedent in your argument (you do not have to do this): https://www.oiahe.org.uk/resources-and-publications/case-summaries/

 

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jan/08/advice-for-students-students

https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/academic/appeals/tips-for-writing-an-appeal-letter/

https://www.inscriptic.com/resources/documents/1-how-to-write-a-successful-academic-appeal-letter

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter/letter-appealing-a-degree-or-module-result

 

Further Support from Student Advice

 

As above, your appeal will usually need to be submitted online via SIMS. If you would like an independent adviser to check your appeal before you submit it, you should send your draft to Student Advice using the Word document appeal form. It would also be helpful if you could send a copy of your results transcripts and copies of any evidence you intend to submit.

 

Contact Student Advice

Advice@cardiff.ac.uk
+44 (0)2920 781410