7. Appeals and Complaints

7.1 Appeals

7.1.1 An appeal is defined as 'a request for a review of a decision by a body charged with making decisions on student progression, assessment and awards'.

7.1.2 The Academic Board is ultimately responsible for approving the academic appeals procedures. It is also the final arbiter within ifs University College on decisions relating to individual cases. 

7.1.3 A student may appeal against decisions of the Board of Examiners and/or Award Progression Board on the following grounds:

  1. that there are extenuating or other circumstances potentially affecting a student which were not known to, and could not have been brought to the attention of, the academic body when it made the decision concerned
  2. that there has been an administrative error or other irregularity in the conduct of an examination, processing of marks, grades or classification of award

7.1.4  The appeal must demonstrate clearly on which of the above grounds it is based, and must be supported by all relevant evidence.

7.1.5 An appeal which is based simply on a challenge to the academic judgement of the examiner(s) will not be accepted.

7.1.6 The student is obliged to familiarise him/herself with all of the course and/or assessment regulations, deadlines or other requirements which are relevant to his/her appeal.  Appeals cannot be based on ignorance of programme regulations or these general and academic regulations and other published procedures, such as assessment requirements and submission deadlines.

7.1.7 Advice on the process and regulations for making an appeal, including the stipulations in respect of support and representation, may be sought from the Manager, Academic Quality.

7.1.8 Appeals must be made in writing and accompanied by full documentary evidence.  They should be addressed to the Head of Operational Management and Development, who will refer the appeal to the Director of Studies, Undergraduate Programmes or the Director of Studies, Postgraduate Programmes, as appropriate, or their nominated representative.

7.1.9 Appeals against a given decision must be submitted within 4 weeks of the decision being communicated to the student.  Only in exceptional circumstances will a request for review be considered after this time.

7.1.10 Appeals will initially be reviewed by the relevant Director of Studies (Director of Studies for Undergraduate Programmes for undergraduate appeals, Director of Studies for Postgraduate Programmes for postgraduate appeals) or an appropriate nominated representative, who will determine if there is a case to answer.

7.1.11 Where an appeal is rejected, the relevant Director of Studies, or appropriate representative, will write to the student to this effect explaining the reason.

7.1.12 If the case satisfies the grounds allowed for an appeal, the relevant Director of Studies, or appropriate representative, will initially attempt to resolve the issues informally.

7.1.13 If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome (either the initial decision to reject the appeal or the attempt to resolve an accepted appeal), then the student has the right to request for the appeal to be heard by an appeal panel. This panel will not be chaired by, or include as a member, any person who was involved with the initial appeal.

7.1.14 The student shall be advised of the proposed hearing, and of his/her right to be heard and represented. The standard of proof required shall be the balance of probabilities.

7.1.15 The relevant Director of Studies will inform the student, in writing, of the decision of the panel.  The student shall be advised that he/she may appeal against the decision within 3 weeks of receiving notification of the outcome of the hearing, but only on 1 or more of the following grounds:

  1. That the procedure adopted by the panel was defective or unfair
  2. That the finding reached by the panel was unreasonable in the light of the facts
  3. That new evidence that could not have been produced to the panel has since come to light

ifs University College reserves the right to reject any appeal against a panel decision that does not fall within the grounds stated above.

7.1.16 If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome after his/her case has been heard at the appeal panel, he/she can request that his/her appeal is reviewed by the Academic Board under the grounds set out in 7.1.15. The Academic Board will appoint a review panel, chaired by a member of the Board who is independent of the appeal, and will not include as a member, any person who was involved with the initial appeal.  The student, or any representative, may not be present at this hearing.

7.1.17 The review panel shall consider an appeal and, if the appeal is upheld on the grounds stipulated in 7.1.15, shall have the power to overturn the finding of the appeal panel. If the appeal is upheld on the grounds of 7.1.15 (3), the review panel shall have the power to direct the appeal panel to re-convene to consider the new evidence and its earlier finding. The rights of the student under 7.1.3, including the right of appeal shall apply equally to a re-convened hearing of the appeal panel. The student plus supporter, or his/her representative, may be present at any reconvened appeal panel.

7.1.18 If all internal appeals procedures are exhausted and a student remains dissatisfied with the outcome, then the case may be eligible for consideration by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education. (Note that, in the case of appeals arising from validated programmes, ifs University College will liaise with the partner institution concerned to ensure that the matter is dealt with in accordance with that institution's procedures for appeal.)

7.1.19 If an appeal is successful at any stage, then ifs University College will take appropriate remedial action and meet incidental expenses necessarily incurred by the student.

7.1.20 Further information on academic appeals, including the composition of panels, can be found in Chapter 13 (Academic Appeals and Student Complaints) of ifs University College Code of Practice for Quality Assurance.

7.2 Complaints

7.2.1 ifs University College recognises that its customers may not always be satisfied with the service they receive, and is committed to ensuring that complaints are dealt with effectively and consistently and in a timely manner with due regard to potential conflicts of interest.  Further details, including ifs University College University College's Customer service statement, are published on ifs University College website.

7.2.2 A complaint is defined as any specific concern about the provision or delivery of a programme of study or related academic service other than an 'appeal' (see 7.1.1).

7.2.3 The student is obliged to familiarise him/herself with all of the course and/or assessment regulations, deadlines or other requirements.  A complaint can not be based on ignorance of course regulations or these general and academic regulations and other published procedures, such as assessment requirements and submission deadlines.

7.2.4 The Academic Board is ultimately responsible for approving the complaints procedures. It is also the final arbiter within ifs University College on decisions relating to individual cases where those cases are unresolved by the Complaints Review Group.

7.2.5 Advice on the process and regulations for making a complaint, including the stipulations in respect of support and representation, may be sought from the Manager, Academic Quality.

7.2.6 Complaints relating to programmes offered by ifs University College are considered by the Manager, HE Student Services, in conjunction with appropriate members of the academic community as determined by the nature of the complaint. Every effort will be made to resolve complaints informally in the first instance.

7.2.7 If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint as communicated by the Manager, HE Student Services, he/she is entitled to seek further consideration by making a case, in writing and accompanied by full documentary evidence. This should be addressed to the Director of Studies, Undergraduate Programmes or Director of Studies, Postgraduate Programmes, as appropriate, for referral to the Complaints Review Group. 

7.2.8 The student will be advised of the proposed date for his/her complaint to be heard by the Complaints Review Group, and of his/her right to be heard and represented. The standard of proof required shall be the balance of probabilities.

7.2.9 The Complaints Review Group will consider the case in line with its Terms of Reference and respond to the student accordingly.

7.2.10 The student will be informed, in writing, of the decision of the Complaints Review Group. The student shall be advised that he/she may appeal against the decision within 3 weeks of receiving notification of the outcome of the hearing, but only on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. That the procedure adopted by the group was defective or unfair
  2. That the finding reached by the group was unreasonable in the light of the facts
  3. That new evidence that could not have been produced to the Group has since come to light

The ifs reserves the right to reject any appeal against a Complaints Review Group decision that does not fall within the grounds stated above.

7.2.11 If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome after his/her case has been heard at the Complaints Review Group, he/she can request that his/her complaint is reviewed by the Academic Board.  The Academic Board will appoint a review panel, chaired by a member of the Board who is independent of the appeal and will not include as a member, any person who was involved with the initial complaint.  The student, or any representative, may not be present at the review hearing.

7.2.12 The review panel shall consider the complaint and, if the complaint is upheld shall have the power to overturn the finding of the Complaints Review Group.  If the complaint is upheld on the grounds of 7.2.10 (3), the review panel shall have the power to direct the Complaints Review Group to reconsider the new evidence and its earlier finding.  The rights of the student, including the right of appeal, shall apply equally to the reconsideration by the Complaints Review Group.  The student plus supporter, or his/her representative, may be present at the reconvened Complaints Review Group.

7.2.13 If all internal complaints procedures are exhausted and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint, then the case may be eligible for consideration by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator if appropriate. (Note that, in the case of complaints arising from validated programmes, ifs University College will liaise with the partner institution concerned to ensure that the matter is dealt with in accordance with that institution's complaints procedures.)

7.2.14 At any stage, if a complaint is upheld then ifs University College undertakes to offer appropriate remedial action, depending on the nature of the complaint, and meet incidental expenses necessarily incurred by the complainant.

7.2.15 Further information on student complaints can be found in Chapter 13 (Academic Appeals and Student Complaints) of ifs University College Code of Practice for Quality Assurance.

7.2.16 ifs University College reserves the right to exclude or remove a student from a programme if he/she makes repeated, unfounded or vexatious complaints or appeals regarding the programme and/or its delivery where, in the opinion of ifs University College, his or her conduct is considered to be mendacious or frivolous.