Keele SU Brand Banner
News Article

Have issues with the ECs process affected your marks?

Common issues & arguments

Rated 4/5 (3 people). Log in to rate.
Sign with advice, support and help written on arrows

 

In ASK we keep track of the issues you tell us are impacting on your experience at Keele and this academic year we know there have been some issues with the Exceptional Circumstances process, which have caused some students to be disadvantaged. We are here to support you and you can make an appointment with us or email us on su.ask@keele.ac.uk.  

We also know that not every student will seek advice from ASK and so we have outlined the common issues students have told us about or that we have identified, described the impact they can have, and written suggested arguments that you can include in an appeal.  

Please note: ASK and Keele SU are not involved in the decision-making process for appeals, and we cannot say whether the University will accept an appeal. We can provide advice and support to help you make an informed decision on whether to appeal and how to make your case as strong as possible.  

 

How to appeal

Appeals must be submitted within 10 calendar days of the official results (not including bank holidays). You must use the official appeal form, which you will find on the university website. We have a guide to appealing to help you through the process in the Advice section of this website.

To have a successful academic appeal you must be able to satisfy one, or both, of the following grounds:  

(i) Procedural irregularity in the conduct of the assessment or the academic warnings procedure; or 

(ii) Exceptional circumstances, providing that: i. the circumstances were not already considered by an Exceptional Circumstances Panel; ii. the circumstances can be verified by appropriate evidence (see University guidelines); and, iii. there is a valid reason for not notifying the relevant Exceptional Circumstances Panel of these circumstances (and/or appropriate evidence) by the specified deadline (see Regulation B3). 

The issues we have outlined below would fall within the procedural irregularity ground.  

For most of the issues we have included references to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) Good Practice Framework. The OIA publishes guidance on how universities should conduct their EC processes, which universities are expected to follow.  

 

I didn't submit an EC claim because I didn't understand what I needed to do, or whether I could get ECs.

There is no longer a Code of Practice that provides details about the process, so EC webpage is the only information available to students. This information has been misleading, incomplete and sometimes even wrong.

The OIA says:

'Additional consideration processes, including deadlines for submission and what supporting evidence might be needed, should be communicated clearly and should be fully accessible to all students. The procedures, forms and any accompanying guidance should be written in straightforward language and be available in a variety of formats...The process should be well-understood by staff involved in supporting or teaching students.'

 

I wasn't sure whether my circumstances count as ‘exceptional’, and I couldn't find any information on the University’s EC webpage.

The University’s EC page gives only two examples of what counts as an EC (spending time in hospital and bereavement) and does not give a list of what circumstances are excluded. There is no longer a Code of Practice that provides details about the process, so that webpage is the only information available to students. 

If your uncertainy about whether your circumstances would be accepted made you reluctant to make an EC claim, make sure you explain this in your appeal.

The OIA says ‘It is up to providers to decide what kinds of circumstances they will typically accept under their additional consideration processes, and what kinds of circumstances they will typically exclude. It is good practice for providers to give some examples in their procedures’ (para 9).  

‘A fair additional consideration process…sets out expectations clearly so that students understand what circumstances are likely to be considered’ (para 19). 

 

I read that EC rules about IT issues were relaxed because of Covid but my claim was still rejected.

EC rules were changed at the start of the pandemic to be more lenient about IT issues. This information is still available on the Keele website and if you read this you may have been confused about whether this still applied. 

If your claim was based on IT issues but was rejected because it isn't classed as an EC, you may be able argue that the heavy reliance on IT has continued and that there is no information that says IT issues are not considered to be an EC (see previous heading).

 

I did not submit an Exceptional Circumstances claim because I couldn’t find any information on what evidence I needed to submit. 

or

I submitted an Exceptional Circumstances claim but it was rejected due to lack of evidence, but I couldn’t find information on what evidence was required.  

The University does not include any examples on the EC webpage of what evidence is required for an EC to be accepted. 

It's worth noting that the official grounds for appeals even says: 'Exceptional circumstances, providing that:..ii. the circumstances can be verified by appropriate evidence (see University guidelines). This official information directs you towards University guidelines that don't exist.

If you didn't make a claim because you were worried about a lack of evidence, or if your EC claim was rejected because you didn't know what sort of evidence to submit, make sure you write about this in your appeal. 

In addition, EC rules were changed at the start of the pandemic to be more lenient about medical evidence to relieve pressure on the NHS. This information is still available on the Keele website and if you read this you may have been confused about whether this still applied. GPs have also still been busy coping with the pandemic, particularly in December/January when the booster jabs were given priority over all other GP appointments.

The OIA says that ‘A fair additional consideration process…Sets out expectations clearly so that students understand what circumstances are likely to be considered and what sort of evidence they may need to provide’ (para 19). 

‘It is good practice for providers to give examples of the types of evidence, if any, they will normally require in support of requests for additional consideration, including guidance about evidence relating to other people’ (para 45).  

 

I got the 5 working day extension but I needed more time and didn't know if this was possible.

The information on the University website has been conflicting and you may have been confused about whether it's possible to have more time. There is no option to ask for a longer extension, or a second extension, when submitting ECs but you can try asking for a further assessment attempt and writing in the statement that you would actually like more time. This has not been properly explained in the EC guidance, and in one place it specifically said you couldn't have more time.

If you missed your deadline, didn't submit your work, or submitted substandard work because you didn't know you could ask for more time make sure you include this in your appeal. Explain what you believed you could/couldn't do and where you read/heard this.

 

I have failed an assessment in a module but passed the module overall. I submitted an EC for a further assessment opportunity which was accepted but I am now being told that I can’t take the further assessment attempt, even though my ECs severely impacted on my performance.  

The University says ‘if you have been granted another assessment opportunity, but choose to sit the exam/submit your coursework anyway, you will not be eligible for another assessment opportunity unless you fail the module overall’. 

However, this goes against the OIA framework, which says that ‘providers should not normally reject a request for additional consideration simply because the student has passed the assessment(s) concerned. The student may have passed, but their mark might be significantly out-of-line with their performance elsewhere or what they might reasonably have expected to achieve. If the provider accepts that a student’s academic performance has been affected by their circumstances, then whenever possible something should be done to put that right’ (para 101).  

 

I have relied on information on the University Exceptional Circumstances webpage, but this has now changed or was incorrect when I read it.  

Some of the information on the EC page was incorrect or contained incomplete information and the page has changed multiple times during this academic year. If you have relied on incorrect information contact ASK for advice on an academic appeal and potential evidence from the webpage history.

 

What evidence can I submit with my appeal?  

It is important to submit evidence to support the arguments you make in your academic appeal. For most of the issues we have raised above, we have included arguments from the OIA, so you could include their Good Practice Framework.

Everyone’s circumstances will be different, and you may have additional evidence to include such as emails from a tutor, your module handbook or EC decision email.  

Get in touch with us in ASK if you are struggling to think of evidence so that we can make some suggestions. If you were relying on incorrect or misleading information on the University website that has since been updated, we may also have a copy of the old version that we can give you. 

 

I’m still not clear, can I get some more support?  

Yes, ASK Advisers are available to support you with the submission of an academic appeal. Please follow this link to book an appointment or email su.ask@keele.ac.uk from your Keele University email address. 

More information on academic appeals can be found on the ASK webpages.  

The University also has information on appeals and links to download the form.