Guide to Academic Appeals
You can appeal by letter against various decisions that affect your study if you believe you have grounds for appeal.
Read the GUSRC Academic Appeals Leaflet online.
The rules relating to appeals are listed in the University Calendar.
The only grounds for appeal are:
- Unfair or defective procedure
- A failure to take account of medical or other adverse personal circumstances
- There are relevant medical or other adverse personal circumstances which for good reason have not previously been presented
Academic appeals are not just an automatic recourse for anyone who is unhappy with their grades. You need to have grounds for appealing (see above), be able to present your case, and show supporting evidence. Academic appeals take a lot of work to prepare properly. If you aren’t prepared to put that work in, you need to ask yourself how important this is to you.
Of course, The Advice Centre is there to help and support you with all of this. But at the end of the day it’s your appeal — your responsibility.
What Should I Do?
The first thing to do is to approach your School to try and obtain an informal resolution of the problem. The Advice Centre staff can help with this if you don’t feel confident about approaching staff, or aren’t sure what to say.
Consulting at School level won’t necessarily avoid the need to go to a formal appeal, but remember that when you do approach the College to notify them of an appeal, they will themselves approach the relevant School for feedback on the case.
If you have already had a good meeting with someone in the School then their report to College stands a better chance of being positive towards your case.
If you do wish to appeal, the first stage of an appeal is always to your College. You have 10 working days from the date of the decision against which you are appealing to submit your intimation of intention to appeal to the Head of Academic and Student Administration in your College. If you are working towards an informal resolution of the problem you should still put in your intention to appeal to avoid running out of time (you can always withdraw it later if your informal route succeeds).
The Advice Centre has produced an Intimation of Intention to Appeal letter template that you can customise with your own details. Although it is in letter format, it is fine to send both the IIA letter, and the full appeal letter, by email.
You then have a further 20 working days to submit a full appeal letter with all your evidence included. We recommend you read our tips for writing a full appeal letter.
If you are not experienced in writing formal letters, you might find our tips on writing formal letters useful.
Your appeal is likely to be dealt with under preliminary disposal (i.e. without a hearing), hence the need for a really comprehensive appeal letter. Sometimes, though, the College Appeals Committee will want to hold a full hearing so they can ask you questions about your appeal.
At any time during this process, if you are at all unsure, want to talk it over with someone or would like to request representation, please contact The Advice Centre and our trained and experienced staff will be happy to help.
Appeal Letter Checklist
Use this list to check that you’ve included all the necessary information before you submit the letter.
- Have you included your name, address, phone number and email address?
- Have you stated what decision you are appealing against?
- Have you stated the grounds that you are appealing on?
- Have you included your evidence? If you’ve mentioned things like a doctor’s letter or excerpts from your course handbook, you should include these.
- Read through your letter — have you stuck to the facts? Is your letter easy to read? If not, it’s likely the Appeals Committee will also think this.
- How have you ended the letter? Make sure that you include the resolution you’re looking for.
- Have you said whether you will attend if a hearing is called?
- Have you confirmed whether you have arranged for someone to accompany you to a hearing, if one is called?
Once you’ve checked that you have everything, you’re ready to submit your letter to the Head of Academic & Student Administration for your College. If you’re not sure about anything in your letter, one the Advice Centre staff members can read through it to see if they think you’ve missed any important details.
There is also a very useful FAQ section on Academic Appeals on the University website.