The purpose of these notes is to give some advice on the
operation of the Appeals Procedure at York St John University. If
you are considering making an appeal, please make sure that you
read the full Appeals Procedure.
Grounds for Appeal
Session 2009/10 was the first academic year in which the
majority of its graduates graduated with an award of York St John
University. A few awards, however, are still being made by the
University of Leeds. York St John's appeals procedure links with
the appeals procedure of the University of Leeds although there are
slight differences in the scope of what can be appealed.
Under both arrangements, a student may make an appeal against
the decisions of the examiners in relation to progressional and
final examinations. Appeals may relate to decisions to terminate a
student’s programme or requests to repeat study as well as appeals
about degree classification.
Primarily, the difference between the York St John and
University of Leeds appeals procedures relates to academic
judgement. For its own awards, York St John will not entertain
appeals which relate to academic judgement. By academic judgement,
we mean challenge based on a student's opinion or someone acting on
behalf of the student of how a piece of work ought to be graded in
contrast to the opinion of the University examiners and its
external examiners. The University of Leeds does not circumscribe
the grounds of appeal in this way although an appeal on the grounds
of academic judgement will be difficult to sustain.
Appeals are only likely to succeed if they concern evidence
which might have affected the examiners' decision had it been known
at the time (and there are very good reasons as to why those
circumstances were not notified before the Board of Examiners) or
if some defect in the assessment process is identified. You should
bear in mind that the extent of compensation which can be made on
the basis of compassionate evidence is limited. It is, however,
sometimes possible to appeal for further examination attempts where
a failure has been recorded.
In this context, you might find it useful to reflect on the
following information about university policy in respect of
academic awards. Degree classification is concerned with
maintaining a consistent standard of attainment for an award.
Classification Calculation and Borderlines
There are two methods of calculation for degree class. The
University will award the class delivered by whichever calculation
offers the higher classification average. You should be aware that
each award profile in a formal borderline band between degree
classes is reviewed by the Board of Examiners. A student whose
classifying average is in the borderline band is only likely to be
promoted to the higher class if there are other factors, such as
mitigating circumstances, which might need to be taken into account
and which were not known at the time. If a student’s average is in
the middle of the class band and away from these thresholds, it is
very unlikely that any mitigating circumstances, no matter how
substantial, would allow promotion to the higher class. This
position is adopted because
- a student has already had the benefit of two calculations
applied to his or her profile and
- there is a need for the standard of award to reflect the
standard of work actually done by the student.
You should also be aware that apparently small differences on a
classification average reflect a very large number of actual marks
on second and third level modules (1 mark on a classification
average reflects 12-18 actual module marks depending on the
From the Session 2009/2010, the University decided to extend the
right to resit to all third year modules even where the criteria
for an honours degree have been met, i.e. a student may be eligible
for the award of an honours degree with a fail in their profile.
The appeals process will also need to take this possibility into
account. An appeal about borderlines will consider the implications
of raising a fail to the capped pass mark and whether such a resit
attempt might have affected the outcome.
What are the implications of this?
- Mitigating circumstances or procedural matters are only likely
to result in an increase in degree class if your overall
classification average is in a borderline band or possibly if the
outcome of a particular module affected by difficult circumstances
is having a quantifiable impact.
- If your classifying average is in the middle of a
classification band, mitigating circumstances or procedural matters
are only really likely to result in an offer of a further
- The Committee on Special Applications and Appeals will not be
swayed by any argument that you, or your representative, thought
that the work deserved a better mark on the basis of opinion
- Students do not have the right to demand the re-marking of an
assessment although the Committee on Special Applications and
Appeals has the discretion to order this if there are circumstances
that suggest this is appropriate.
- Appeals on the grounds of mitigating circumstances relating to
exceptional permission to progress, repeat study and assessment or
rescinding of termination may succeed if the evidence is strong
enough and if you can explain why the case for mitigation was not
made at the right time.
Advice on Appeals
If you are thinking about making an appeal, the Registrar can
advise on the appeals process. If you want advice and support in
making your appeal, you should approach the Student’s Union.
Before you make an appeal, however, it is desirable that you
discuss your concerns with your Head of Programme, Dean of Faculty
or Academic Tutor if at all possible. You will be able to seek
information, air your concerns, and sometimes possibly clear up
misunderstandings. However, you should not allow the inability to
talk to the person you are looking for delay you in making your
appeal. Time limits are important. Please see below.
You should note that there are very strict time limits that are
rigorously enforced on making appeals. You must tell the
Registrar in writing of your intention to appeal by no later than
15 days after the publication of results and send us all paperwork
by no later than 25 days after the publication of results.
York St John hears appeals as soon as possible after the date
for submission of appeals. If you appeal against a degree result
you may not be able to attend a degree ceremony if the appeal has
not been resolved. Similarly, if you attend a ceremony and accept
your degree, the University will conclude that you have, by this
action, withdrawn your appeal. For most degrees awarded in early
July, the appeals hearings are in September and well in time for
the degree ceremony in York Minster in November.
Forms of Appeal
An appeal should be submitted as a signed letter to the
Registrar and should set out clearly the grounds of the appeal and
the remedy that you are seeking.
The address to which this should be sent is
York St John University
Lord Mayors Walk
Please use recorded delivery if you wish to be sure that someone
signs for receipt of your letter.
If you base your appeal on compassionate circumstances, you
should include the relevant medical or other corroboration. The
Students Union will offer assistance in putting an appeal together.
Sample letters are provided on their web site. Please note that the
University will not search out supporting material on a student’s
behalf. It is the student’s responsibility to provide all the
material that he or she wants the Committee to consider.
Who hears Appeals?
All appeals are heard by the York St John Committee on Special
Applications and Appeals. This Committee consists of a number of
senior members of University staff from which a small panel is
drawn to hear a case. To ensure the independence of the hearing,
the members of the panel are selected so as to avoid staff who are
associated with the subject area of the appeal. The Registrar
assists the Committee as its Executive Officer but is not a voting
Cases submitted by the appropriate deadline are reviewed by the
Registrar and the Chair of the Committee on Special Applications
and Appeals together with the response made by the Dean of Faculty.
They will decide whether a case should be heard by the Committee,
i.e. that a prima facie case exists. Sometimes an appeal can be
resolved before a hearing if all are agreed on an obvious solution.
Sometimes a case is dismissed if there is no substantive case for
the Committee to hear or if there is no valid remedy open to the
Committee. If this happens, explanations will be provided and you
have opportunity to appeal to the Vice Chancellor that the case
should be heard.
Assuming that the case is to be heard by the Committee, you will
be invited to appear before the Committee in person. You can bring
a supporter. If, for very good reason, you cannot attend the
hearing, you may arrange with the Registrar and Chair that you
should be represented in your absence. If you do not choose to
appear and fail to notify the committee that you will not attend,
the Committee reserves the right to hear your case in your absence
and to draw what conclusions it might from your absence.
The Committee and you will have available the written material
which you supplied in connection with the appeal and the Faculty
response. You will be invited to talk through your case with the
Committee and they will ask you questions. The Committee will then
separately question the representatives of the Faculty. You and the
staff members will be asked to withdraw while the Committee discuss
the case. You may be asked back for further discussion. The
Committee will then make its decision which will be communicated to
you in writing as soon as possible after the hearing (usually
within one week).
What if I feel that I cannot accept the decision?
For degrees validated by York St John University, you may
request a review of the decision by the Vice Chancellor. If your
degree is validated by the University of Leeds, the decision will
also be reviewed by the University of Leeds. These possibilities
will be communicated to you in the letter setting out the decision
of the Committee. Beyond these appeal reviews, it is possible for
students to request their cases to be investigated by the Office of
the Independent Adjudicator. This is an independent body set up
under Act of Parliament which will review student appeals and
complaints where internal university processes have been exhausted.
You can find out more on their website http://www.oiahe.org.uk.