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Academic appeals

The University of Manchester has an academic appeals procedure for students who wish to appeal against a final decision of a board of examiners, or a progress committee, or a graduate committee or equivalent body which affects a student’s academic status or progress in the University.

Academic appeals process

Informal School stage

A student thinking of appealing should discuss the matter with their academic adviser, personal tutor, supervisor, programme director, or other appropriate person in the School before doing so in order to better understand the reason for the result or decision against which they wish to appeal.

This stage should best be understood as one where early resolution might be possible. If more in-depth or 'formal' consideration needs to be given to an appeal, it is reasonable to inform the student in writing (email) that the appropriate route is formal academic appeal to the Faculty. This shortens the total length of the appeals process and lessens the burden on Schools.

Consider hosting a 'Results Surgery' around the time of the release of results; these can help students to understand both why they achieved the mark they did, and the internal and external marking and moderation processes that have been carried out.

Formal stage

If a student remains dissatisfied with the result or decision once informal avenues have been exhausted and believes there are valid grounds for appeal they may invoke the formal appeal procedure by submitting the academic appeals form (linked above) to fseappealsandcomplaints@manchester.ac.uk within twenty working days of notification of the result or decision.

Review stage

If a student feels that the outcome of the investigation by the Faculty is unreasonable they have the right of appeal against this decision and may do so by writing to the Head of Division of Teaching, Learning, and Student Development within twenty working days from the date of notification of the decision.

Concerns over authenticity

The Division of Campus Life has produced guidance for staff who have concerns over the authenticity of evidence. This document was produced with the intention that it gives some helpful and practical suggestions around handling cases of falsified evidence. Whilst it is hoped the guidance draws out some of the common issues and process information within this area, there isn’t a compulsory requirement for this guidance to be applied.

The OIA

The University follows, for the most part, the OIA's Good Practice Framework. You can read about the OIA's guidance on academic appeals on its website.

Once a student has completed the internal process the University issues them with a Completion of Procedures letter. If a student believes that their case has not been dealt with properly by the University or that the outcome is unreasonable they may be able to apply for a review of their appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) providing that the complaint they take to the OIA is eligible under its Rules. The OIA will consider cases only when the University's own internal appeal procedures have been exhausted. It will not intervene on matters which turn purely on academic assessment. Read more about the OIA's remit.

Guidance for Schools and Faculty Postgraduate Research Panels

When the Faculty receives a formal appeal from a student we consider whether or not the appeal is made on one of the following grounds:

  1. That there exists or existed circumstances affecting the student's performance of which, for good reason, the board of examiners or committee may not have been made aware when the decision was taken and which might have had a material effect on the decision. (Note: if students wish to appeal on such grounds, they must give adequate reasons with supporting documentation why this information was not made available prior to the decision being made.)
  2. That there had been a material administrative error or procedural irregularity in the assessment process or in putting into effect the regulations for the programme of study of such a nature as to cause significant doubt whether the decision might have been different if the error or irregularity had not occurred
  3. That there is evidence of prejudice or bias or lack of proper assessment on the part of one or more of the examiners
  4. That the supervision or training of the student in respect of research for a dissertation or thesis or equivalent work was unsatisfactory to the point that his or her performance was seriously affected

If it is judged that the appeal does not fall under one of these grounds we notify the appellant within ten working days of the appeal being received that the appeal is not eligible, with reasons given.

If the appeal is shown to have been made on one or more of the grounds, we send the appeal to the School and FPGRP and invite comments. The comments received are then sent to the appellant who is invited to submit a response. The appeal is then considered by the Faculty when a decision will be taken to either uphold or reject the appeal.

If the decision the student is appealing was taken by a Faculty panel, we will seek their response first, before asking for a response from the School.

If the decision the student is appealing was taken at School level we will proceed directly to requesting a School response.

The School or Research Panel response

The School/Faculty Research Panel response to a student’s appeal will be sent to the appellant who will be invited to submit a response. Below is advice on what to include (and not include) in the response.

Do:

  • Ensure that each point of the student’s appeal is addressed.
  • Include a clear statement as to why the student is in the position they are in, and the decision they are appealing against.
  • Include factual information, rather than personal opinion.

Don't:

  • Include personal comments about the student, confrontational comments, or comments about other students (except in general terms).
  • Include anything that you do not wish the student to see.

Where the appeal is refuted:

  • Information should be included to demonstrate that under the grounds for appeal that:
    • Mitigation has already been taken into account;
    • Due process has been followed;
    • Prejudice or bias or lack of proper assessment is unfounded;
    • The supervision or training of the student was not unsatisfactory.
  • For appeals submitted on the basis of mitigating circumstances, it is useful to comment on where/how the process is advertised to students, the student’s reason for not submitting mitigation at the appropriate time, and whether or not the student has submitted mitigation previously (i.e. is aware of the process/deadlines etc.)

Where it is determined the appeal has merit:

  • Where the School/FPGRP identifies that the student’s appeal has merit, details of the proposed remedy should be included. It may be appropriate to propose an alternative remedy to that sought by the student. It is important that this information is as detailed as possible so that all parties are clear about the precise nature of the remedy.
  • Where the School/FPGRP identifies that the student’s appeal has merit and that issues have been identified that have either affected other students or identified failure in procedure, the response should include information on how these will be addressed.

When an appeal made on the grounds of procedural irregularity is upheld, the Faculty will make recommendations to the School/FPGRP as a result of the findings.

The OIA often requests a number of materials when considering a complaint. The University should look to have reviewed a similar breadth of material during the appeals and complaints processes.

Mitigating circumstances

Each calendar year has recorded that the highest proportion of appeals are submitted under Regulation XIX, grounds 2(a). The Policy on Mitigating Circumstances is often referred to when considering appeals under this ground.

Reducing the caseload

Advice to staff on what can be done in seeking to minimise the number of appeal cases:

This page updated by Jenny Gradwell on 17/09/2020.