FSAC - A Student Guide

If you are dissatisfied with a decision of the Board of Examiners in your School, you may appeal on grounds to the Faculty Student Appeals Committee (FSAC). 

On receipt, your appeal will be considered by the Director of Academic Affairs (or nominee) and a senior colleague, who will decide whether you have presented a prima facie case.  

If it is considered that you have not presented a prima facie case, your appeal will be rejected.   Any appeal which is rejected will be reviewed by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) and a senior colleague. 

If you have presented a prima facie case, your appeal will be forwarded to your School for a response.  Your appeal and the School response will be considered by the FSAC. 

The FSAC comprises the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) or nominee, and two senior colleagues, one of whom must also be a senior academic.  The FSAC will consider your appeal on the paperwork submitted by you and by your School alone, so it is important that you complete the Appeal Form properly and submit all the necessary documentation to Academic Affairs before the FSAC deadline. 

You will receive notification of the FSAC decision, together with copies of the School response and the Record of the FSAC Meeting.

Seeking Advice

Prior to submitting a formal written appeal to Academic Affairs, students are advised to discuss the matter with an Adviser of Studies or Personal Tutor in the School, and to contact the Students’ Union for advice and information on the Academic Appeals Procedure.

How long do I have to appeal?

To initiate the appeals process, a student must complete all sections of the FSAC Appeal Form and submit it to Academic Affairs within ten working days of the date of the University deadline for publication of results.  If you miss this deadline the FSAC will not be able to hear your appeal.

You should be careful to explain how you meet the ground(s) of appeal and should ensure that you attach all supporting evidence when submitting your appeal form.  Requests for appeal which are not submitted on the appropriate form will not be processed.  The appeal will be acknowledged on receipt.

I am graduating, can I still appeal?

A former student may not lodge an appeal after he or she has graduated from the University.  However, a student may proceed to graduate while appealing, providing the appeal is submitted within ten working days of the formal publication of the final result.

Should a change to a result be required following an appeal, the transcript will be amended accordingly. Where a degree classification changes after graduation, the student will be issued with an amended parchment on return of the original parchment.

Grounds for Appeal

In order for FSAC to be able to hear your appeal, you must state the grounds on which you are appealing. While you might feel unhappy about a decision, e.g. your examination marks, this does not mean you have grounds for an appeal. There are 3 grounds on which you can appeal:

  1. New evidence has become available which could not have been provided to the Board of Examiners (BoE) meeting (evidence that a student chooses to withhold from the Board of Examiners will not normally constitute new evidence at an appeal).
  2. There has been a procedural irregularity. You need to be able to explain how this impacted on your academic outcome.
  3. For Postgraduate taught students only: that there was inadequate supervision of the thesis/dissertation element of the Postgraduate programme. An appeal will not be considered on this ground, unless there is good reason to show why such issues were not raised by the student promptly at the time they first arose.

Not Grounds for Appeal

  1. Not being aware of the University regulations.
  2. Not knowing the University procedures (this is not a procedural irregularity). 
  3. Being unhappy with your module mark or thinking you can do better.
  4. Wanting to re-sit examinations or resubmit coursework in order to improve grades.
  5. Being awarded a degree classification that does not satisfy your career plans.

Preparing Your Appeal

Once you have established that you have grounds for an appeal, it is strongly recommended that you seek advice and assistance on preparing your appeal. The Students’ Union will be able to assist you with the appeal form and a representative will also be able to accompany you to the Committee hearing.

To get in touch with the Students’ Union, you should submit this form and an adviser will be in touch.

Please complete all parts of the appeal form. You may wish to address the following points:

  1. State clearly what decision you are appealing against.  If possible, you should attach a copy of the letter you have received from your School notifying you of the decision of the Board of Examiners (the decision you are appealing).
  2. What are your grounds for appeal? Make sure that you tick the appropriate box.
  3. Give a summary of any issues that you believe may have impacted on your progression or academic outcome.
  4. Did you encounter exceptional circumstances? If so what are they?
  5. Did you inform the School of these circumstances? Do you have any emails/correspondence to support this? Did you submit an Exceptional Circumstances application?  If not, why did you not do so?  You should attach copies of any relevant documents.
  6. What would you like the FSAC to do? You should check the University Regulations and/or your Student Handbook to make sure that the FSAC has the power to grant what you are asking.
  7. If you are requesting another attempt to pass an assignment/exam, what will be different next time?
  8. Is there any additional information you would like the FSAC to know about?
  9. Ensure that you have provided all supporting evidence which you consider supports your appeal.  If you fail to submit the relevant evidence in support of your appeal before the appeal deadline, it may be rejected at the review stage out because of lack of evidence (see Review Stage below).  

Answering these points will help the Committee to understand your case and to reach a fair decision. Please be careful to make sure that the appeal document is not one big block of text, try to break it up into smaller paragraphs.

Submitting your Appeal

Once the FSAC Appeal Form and supporting documentation is complete, please ask someone from the Students’ Union to read through it before submitting it by email to appeals@qub.ac.uk or by hand to Academic Affairs, Level 6, Administration Building, Queen's University Belfast BT7 1NN.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the information is accurate, includes all supporting documentation and is submitted on time.  Any documentation submitted after the deadline for submission of appeals will not be considered.  The FSAC will consider your appeal on the paperwork alone so it is important that you submit all relevant documentation before the deadline.

The FSAC will only consider appeals against Examination Board decisions for the relevant assessment period (ie you cannot submit an appeal after the semester two examination period relating to the decision about a semester one examination). 

Supporting Evidence

Although your appeal and supporting documentation will be accepted by email, Academic Affairs will require to see the originals of any documentation you submit in support of your appeal (eg letter from your GP or death certificate).    

Academic Affairs is tasked with ensuring that the evidence considered by a FSAC/CSAC is bona fide and will, where necessary, take steps to verify that documentation submitted is valid and authentic.  This may include contacting the stated author of the document in question or your GP surgery to verify that the document was written by them.  If the document is a letter from your GP, only the contents of the document submitted by you will be disclosed; no other matters will be discussed. 

Documentary evidence must not be tampered with.  Where it is suspected that a student has submitted a forged document or has made changes to the document, however minor, the appeal will be adjourned and the matter referred to the student’s Head of School for investigation under the Conduct Regulations.  You should be aware that the University takes offences of this kind very seriously.  The standard penalty for a disciplinary offence of falsification/fabrication of evidence provided to the University (first offence) is expulsion from the University.   

Confidentiality and Data Protection

All appeals will be treated with the appropriate level of confidentiality, with information being released only to those who need to see it (for example, for the School’s response).

In accordance with the Academic Appeal Regulations (Taught Programmes), all information submitted by you and by the School will be shared with the members of the Committee.  You and the School will be sent copies of the information sent to the members of the Committee.  You should not include in your appeal any information which you do not wish to be shared.  You should also ensure that your appeal documentation does not contain any information relating to third parties (eg, that names or any information by which a third party could be identified have been redacted, unless the third party consents to the information being shared) and the information complies with the University guidance on data protection.

What is the deadline for submission of appeals?

The deadline for submitting an appeal to FSAC can be found here.

What Happens Next?

Academic Affairs will contact you via your University email address to confirm receipt of your appeal and explain the next stage if the appeals process. It is important that you check your University email account regularly and read any emails sent to you carefully.  These emails will contain important information about your appeal. 

Review Stage

Your appeal and supporting documentation will be reviewed by the Director of Academic and Student Affairs (or nominee) and a senior colleague and based on the paperwork alone, a decision will be made to either accept your appeal, in which case your appeal will be sent to your School for a response, or reject your appeal.    

Your appeal may be rejected if

  1. It does not present a prima facie case for appeal
  2. The appeal form is incomplete and/or does not contain any supporting evidence
  3. The outcome sought is to change marks, to resit or retake modules which have been already passed  
  4. Your desired outcome is not within the powers of the FSAC/CSAC to grant.

If your appeal is rejected at this stage, a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) and a senior colleague will review the decision to reject your appeal. Please note, the review will only consider the original appeal documentation and no additional information or supporting evidence will be accepted at this stage.

If your appeal is accepted, it will be forwarded to your School for a response.

Please note that the decision to forward your appeal to your School for a response is not an indication that your appeal meets grounds. Your appeal and the School response will be considered by the FSAC on the paperwork.   

If your appeal is not accepted, there is no further internal appeal against a review decision. However, if, after considering the reasons given for rejecting your appeal, you remain aggrieved by the process or outcome, you may submit a complaint to the Office of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.  If you wish to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman, you must do so within 6 months of the date of the written notification of the decision.

School Response

If it is decided that you have presented a prima facie case, your appeal documentation will be forwarded to your School for a written response. 

Your appeal documentation and the School response will be considered by the FSAC on the paperwork alone.  It is, therefore, very important that you submit all relevant documentation by the FSAC appeal deadline.

The FSAC Meeting

The FSAC comprises the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) (or nominee who is a senior academic) and two colleagues at least one of whom is an academic member of staff. 

The FSAC will consider your appeal on the paperwork submitted by you and by your School alone, neither you nor the School will be in attendance.  It is therefore imperative that you complete the Appeal Form properly and submit all the necessary documentation to Academic Affairs before the stated deadline.  

What decisions are available to the FSAC?

The FSAC can make the following decisions:

Dismiss the appeal, with reasons, and confirm the original decision against which the appeal was made

Refer the matter back the Chair of the Board of Examiners, with or without a recommendation

Uphold the appeal in part or in full, and may permit the student to re-sit or re-take a failed module(s)

The FSAC cannot make academic judgements, i.e., change marks or degree classifications.

How will I be informed of the decision of the FSAC?

You will be notified of the FSAC’s decision normally within five working days of a decision being reached.  This will be communicated to you in writing to your University email address.  You will also receive copies of the School response and the Record of the FSAC Meeting.

What if I am unhappy with the decision of the FSAC?

If you are dissatisfied with the FSAC decision, you may appeal on grounds to the Central Student Appeals Committee (CSAC).  See CSAC – A Student Guide for further information.