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Managing academic appeal requests in line with data protection

Understand what information students can request when making an academic appeal and how to ensure staff involved in appeals comply with the Data Protection Act.

Academic appeals are an opportunity for students to apply for a reconsideration of a decision made by the Board of Studies in relation to a degree classification, failure or academic progression.

When students provide written evidence or other documentation they consent to the evidence or information being disclosed to those involved in the appeal.

If the appeal centres on complaints about the quality of the academic supervision and the student submits written evidence, this will need to be put before the supervisor concerned, to give them an opportunity to properly rebut any specific points raised.

Information students can request

Students can ask to see copies of information which relates to them, including:

  • examiner's reports
  • comments written by examiners on reports or other documents
  • minutes of meetings of the relevant examination board

Such documents will normally be provided to any student who submits a Subject Access Request. They can also be disclosed following an informal request so long as their disclosure does not involve divulging personal data relating to any third party. In many cases, it may be necessary to take steps to anonymise or redact some documents, such as a mark list which includes the names of other students.

Academic appeal request

Requests by students for information they need to support an Academic Appeal can be made verbally, by email or in writing to the relevant person, which will be a Departmental Administrator, Director of Studies, Personal Tutor or Head of Department. A record of the request and the response to it must be kept on the student's file.

A student should normally be given the information about them that they are entitled to see within a reasonable time of making a request to the relevant person. If, however, the person receiving the request is unsure whether the information should be released or if the information contains references to other persons, the student should be asked to contact the Data Protection Officer to make a formal request for the information.

Disclosure of email

If members of staff store their emails discussing Academic Appeals then they will be disclosed to the student if they request to see them. Staff should ensure that what they write in emails is truthful and balanced. Care should always be taken to print out important and relevant emails which should be held on the relevant students' file.

Disclosure of minutes

If a student requests to see any such minutes they will normally be entitled to have a full copy provided to them.

If the minutes contain personal data of a confidential nature relating to a third party, it may be necessary to provide the student with an amended, anonymised or redacted version of the minutes.

Personal notes made by the appeal sub-committee

It is University procedure for all personal notes to be destroyed as soon as the meeting has finished and/or the formal minutes are approved. Students will have to rely on copies of the formal minutes.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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