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Procedural issues: Importance of following procedures - PI011514

Swansea University

A student at Swansea University enrolled on an MPhil with the intention of progressing to a PhD. After the first year, the student appealed the University’s decision that she should remain on the MPhil degree, with the decision about whether she should progress to a PhD deferred. This appeal was resolved informally, with the University making an offer in full and final satisfaction of the student’s academic appeal and concerns. The student accepted this offer and subsequently attended a second viva examination in accordance with the offer. Following this viva, the Academic Panel informed her once again that she should remain on the MPhil degree, with the decision to be reviewed a few months later. It set out a total of nine reservations about her work.

The student submitted a second Academic Appeal Form but this appeal was rejected on initial evaluation because it failed to demonstrate and evidence valid grounds for appeal. The student subsequently submitted a Final Review application against the outcome of her second academic appeal. The student sought an upgrade from MPhil to PhD. The University rejected her Final Review application, concluding that it found no grounds to re-open the case. The student then complained to us.

We excluded from the scope of our review issues relating to the student’s first appeal, as the student’s acceptance of the offer of a viva resolved that appeal.

We were satisfied that the University followed its Appeals Procedure when considering the student’s second appeal and it was reasonable in the circumstances for the University to reject her application for a Final Stage Review on the basis that it found no grounds on which to re-open. The decision not to allow the student to progress was one of academic judgment, which the University had been entitled to make under its regulations.

We decided that the University had reasonably concluded that there had been no procedural irregularities and that the student’s second appeal had been handled in a professional manner: she had been made aware of the procedures being followed and her concerns had been properly considered. The University had explained its reasons for the rejection of her second appeal.

For these reasons, we found this complaint Not Justified.