Stage 3: Right of Appeal
If a student is dissatisfied with the conduct of the investigation or the decision of the FPVC/Director, they may appeal to the Director of Academic and Student Affairs on specific grounds, on the Student Complaints Appeal (Stage 3) Form
The grounds of appeal are as follows:
- Procedural irregularity in the conduct of the investigation (The student should demonstrate the impact of any such procedural irregularity on the outcome of Stage 2 and should submit any relevant evidence in support of the appeal)
- Evidence is available which was not reasonably available at the time of the Stage 2 determination.
The student must submit the Stage 3 appeal to the Director of Academic and Student Affairs on the appropriate appeal form within 10 working days of the written notification of the Stage 2 decision of the FPVC/Director. Late appeals will not normally be considered, unless the student can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control which meant they were unable to submit the appeal (e.g. hospitalisation).
If it is not clear that the student has submitted a prima facie case, the appeal will be considered by a Screening Panel under the Prima Facie Screening process (see section 2.1 of the Student Complaints Procedure, prior to the appeal being considered.
If it is determined that the student has presented a prima facie case, the Director of Academic and Student Affairs will consider whether the student has met either one or both of the grounds above and may:
- Uphold the appeal on the basis of the written evidence presented; or
- Refer the appeal to an Appeal Panel.
The Appeal Panel will comprise a Chair nominated by the Director of Academic and Student Affairs, a Sabbatical Officer of the Students’ Union and two senior members of staff not previously involved in the complaint.
The Chair of the Appeal Panel will normally request the attendance at the Appeal Panel meeting of the FPVC/Director who made the decision at Stage 2, the student or any other person, who in the Panel’s judgement may have relevant information to contribute. The Investigating Officer may, therefore, be requested to attend. If the attendance of any witness is requested, the student and any person against whom a complaint has been made will be so advised.
A copy of the papers to be circulated to Panel members, the student and any person against whom a complaint has been made, will be sent to the Chair of the Appeal Panel in advance. The Chair will advise Academic Affairs whether the attendance of any witness is required or whether any further information is required. Academic Affairs will make the appropriate arrangements or gather the necessary information, where possible.
Protocol for the Conduct of an Appeal Panel meeting
If you are called to a meeting, following introductions and an explanation by the Chair of the powers of the Panel, you will be asked to present your appeal and to explain how you meet the ground(s) for appeal.
The FPVC/Director, who made the decision, (or in their place, the Investigating Officer), will then be asked to respond and to explain their decision.
The Panel may ask you and/or the FPVC/Director questions, and you will be afforded an opportunity to ask questions of each other, at the discretion of the Chair.
Witnesses may be called to give evidence to the Panel but will be present at the meeting only for as long as is necessary for them to do so. Witnesses may be questioned by the Panel members and, at the discretion of the Chair, examined, cross-examined and re-examined by you and/or the FPVC/Director.
You will be offered the opportunity to sum up. The FPVC/Director (or Investigating Officer) will then be offered the opportunity to sum up.
You and the FPVC/Director (or Investigating Officer) will enter and leave the room at the same time.
Once the Panel is satisfied that it has heard all the relevant evidence and all persons involved, except the Panel members and secretariat, have left the room, the Panel will deliberate and, if possible, reach a decision. If the Panel requires further information, you, the person against whom the complaint has been made and the FPVC/Director will be advised of the delay.
You will normally be advised of the Panel’s decision within eight working days of the decision being made. The FPVC/Director and anyone against whom a complaint has been made will be advised of the outcome of the appeal, although details of the decision may not be disclosed to them.
The Appeal Panel may:
- Dismiss the appeal, giving reasons.
- Uphold the appeal in full or in part.
- Make any such recommendation/s or proposed resolution as they deem fit.
What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the Stage 3 appeal?
There is no further internal appeal against a decision of the Student Complaint Appeal Panel. However, a student who feels aggrieved by the process or decision of the Appeal Panel may submit a complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman. If you wish to make a complaint, you must do so within six months of the date of notification of the Panel’s decision.