Stage 3: Right of Appeal
If you are dissatisfied with the conduct of the investigation or the decision of the FPVC/Director, you 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 which had a demonstrable impact on the Stage 2 decision.
- Evidence is available which was not reasonably available at the time of the Stage 2 determination.
You must submit the Stage 3 appeal to the Director of Academic and Student Affairs (email@example.com) on the Student Complaints Appeal (Stage 3) 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 you can demonstrate circumstances beyond your control which meant you were unable to submit the appeal (e.g. hospitalisation).
It is your responsibility to demonstrate how you meet the grounds of appeal and, if appropriate, explain why any new evidence was not available at the time of the original investigation or how the alleged procedural irregularity affected the outcome of the Stage 2 investigation. You should include copies of previous correspondence, including the Investigating Officer’s report, the decision at Stage 2 of the procedure and any supporting documentation with your Student Complaints Appeal (Stage 3) Form.
If it is not clear that you have submitted a prima facie case, your appeal will be considered by a Screening Panel under the Prima Facie Screening process (see section 2.1 of the Student Complaints Procedure or the "My complaint has been sent to a Screening Panel -what happens next?" section of the General Principles and Stage 1 Complaint Student Guide), prior to the appeal being considered.
If it is determined that you have presented a prima facie case, your appeal will be referred to an Appeal Panel.
The Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Panel Meeting
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 your attendance at the Appeal Panel meeting. The FPVC/ Director who made the decision at Stage 2 and other relevant individuals may also be invited to attend this meeting. If the attendance of any witness is requested, you and any person against whom a complaint has been made will be so advised.
A copy of the papers will be circulated to yourself and all other attendees in advance of the Appeal Panel meeting. 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.
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 meeting 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 meeting, 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; or
- Uphold the appeal in full or in part; and/or
- 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, you may submit a complaint of maladministration 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.