Swansea University

Final Review Procedure

*Updated for 2014/15 academic session*

These regulations have now been updated for the 2014/15 academic session.

1.1

Where a student has been given a formal decision/outcome under relevant regulations/procedures, the student may request a final review of the decision/outcome in accordance with this Final Review Procedure. By way of example, students may request a final review of the formal decisions made/outcomes imposed at the conclusion of the University’s:

The above list is not exhaustive and students should refer to the relevant regulations regarding the stage when they may request a final review (if applicable).

1.2

Any requests for a final review must be made in writing to the Acting Director of Academic Services [hereinafter referred to as the 'Acting Director'] within 14 working days of the original decision of the Committee, Board or University Officer by submitting the which can be downloaded via the University's MyStudies (Blackboard) website or obtained from the Academic Registry. Requests for a final review received later than this will not normally be considered.

1.3

The Academic Registry shall acknowledge, in writing, receipt of a request for a Final Review within 5 working days.

1.4

The Acting Director may nominate a person within the Academic Registry to assist him/her or to deal with the Final Review in accordance with this Procedure on his/her behalf as his/her ‘nominee’. Accordingly, all references within these procedures to Acting Director shall include the Acting Director's nominee.

1.5

Where the Acting Director has been directly involved in making decisions on the case previously (such as having provided a Stage 2 Complaint response on the same case) he/she shall immediately, following receipt of the student's Final Review Form, refer the complaint to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor who shall deal with the matter in accordance with these Final Review Procedures in place of the Acting Director.

2.

Requests for final reviews must be based upon one or more of the following grounds:

2.1

Irregularities in the conduct of the relevant procedures, which are of such a nature as to cause reasonable doubt whether the party/parties concerned would have reached the same decision had they not occurred.

2.2

New evidence which was not made available to the party/ parties concerned when the candidate's case was considered and which can be shown to be relevant to the case.  The student must show a compelling reason why such evidence was not made known prior to the decision being made. Where the student could have made the new evidence available prior to the decision being made, such evidence cannot subsequently be cited as grounds for review.

2.3

That the decision reached was unreasonable on the information which had been available to the party/parties when the case was considered. To apply this ground the student must explain why no reasonable person could have reached the decision that was made.

3.

The Acting Director or a nominated alternate will review the case based on the written evidence provided and will decide whether to:

3.1

Seek to resolve the final review through mediation / alternative dispute resolution, with the aim of achieving an outcome that is satisfactory to all (where all parties agree to this and the process involved).

3.2

Refer the request for a final review to the appropriate authority of the relevant procedure where it appears that the student has not completed all stages of that procedure. The student will be copied into this referral. If the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome, the student can then activate the Final Review procedure.

3.3

Investigate / determine the final review in accordance with Section 4 below.

4.

Investigation / Determination of the final review

4.1

Where the Acting Director carries out an investigation of the final review and issues raised, in the interests of transparency and fairness, the investigation will be conducted through a process of open correspondence, unless there are compelling reasons for any information or communications to remain confidential.

4.2

The Acting Director may gather further evidence from either or both parties, or from other persons, and when satisfied that sufficient evidence has been gathered will review the case and may, at his, her discretion:

  1. dismiss the request for a final review. This decision shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below;
  2. permit the request for a final review to proceed; and
  • refer the case back to: the Chair of the relevant Committee Board; the relevant Board; or the relevant Officer to reconsider the case in light of the new evidence. The decision of the Chair/Board/Officer shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below;
  • refer the case to an Appeal Board to consider the case (in the case of a review against a filtered academic appeal). The Appeal Board shall be arranged in accordance with the Academic Appeal procedures. However, the decision of the Chair/Board/Officer shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below;
  • refer the case to an entirely new Committee of Enquiry (consisting of a new Panel) under the relevant Regulations to hear the case. The Committee of Enquiry shall be arranged in accordance with the relevant Regulations. However, the decision of the Committee of Enquiry shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below;
  • refer the case to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for his/her guidance or for his/her independent assessment and determination of the final review. The decision of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below;
  • establish a Final Review Committee before which the student could present his/her case [in accordance with Sections 5, 6 and 7 below];
  • in consultation with the relevant Chair/Board/Officer modify the severity of the penalty. This decision shall be final, as detailed in Section 4.3 below;
  • uphold the request for a final review, in full or in part, and confirm any action to be taken accordingly. This decision shall be final, as detailed at Section 4.3 below.

4.3

The decision made under Sections 4.2(1) and (2) above, shall constitute the final decision of the request for Final Review, and the matter shall, therefore, be regarded as closed. There shall be no discussion of the decision with the student or any other person. The Acting Director will issue the student with a Completion of Procedures letter.

5.

Final Review Committee

5.1

If it is decided by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor that a request for a final review should be referred to a Final Review Committee, a member of the Academic Registry shall be appointed to act as Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee Secretary shall convene such a Committee, consisting of three Panel members (selected by the Committee Secretary); all from Senate but one of whom shall be a Pro-Vice-Chancellor or a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University.

The (former) Pro-Vice-Chancellor has the discretion to substitute a member of Senate with a member of Council.

One member of the Final Review Committee Panel shall be appointed by the Board’s Secretary to act as Chair.

5.2

The Final Review Committee Panel shall not contain members of staff from a College in which the student is studying, or anyone who has had prior involvement in the case. Normally, the Committee will meet in private.

5.3

As soon as is reasonably practicable after the appointment of the Final Review Committee Panel, the Secretary shall:

  • invite the student and where relevant, the student’s College, to provide, by a prescribed deadline, any evidence, written statements, statements of witnesses or other documents in support of their case which shall also be presented to the Final Review Committee. At a meeting of the Final Review Committee, the Chair has discretion to declare inadmissible any evidence received after the prescribed deadline;
  • send to the student and where relevant, to the student’s College, copies of all evidence, statements of witnesses and other documents to be placed before the Final Review Committee;
  • invite the student to notify the Committee Secretary of any special requirements;
  • arrange the date, place and time when the Final Review Committee shall meet and inform the student and all relevant parties of the same.

5.4

The student shall be informed that he/she shall have the right to attend the meeting of the Final Review Committee. The student shall be required to inform the Secretary whether or not he/she intends to attend the meeting. If the student indicates that he/she does not wish to attend the meeting, the Committee shall proceed in his/her absence. Normally a student may not send any other person to the meeting in his/her place unless there are shown to be exceptional reasons why this is necessary and this is authorised by the Chair prior to the meeting.

Should the student not attend the meeting of the Final Review Committee, having previously indicated to the Committee Secretary that he/she would attend, and provided that all reasonable steps have been taken to contact the student, the meeting shall proceed in his/her absence. The Committee may also proceed in the absence of any other party/witness, at the discretion of the Chair.

5.5

Students are reminded that it is in their best interest to keep in contact with the University.  If the student does not respond to his/her correspondence or asks for a Final Review Committee to be postponed on more than one occasion, the University will proceed with the hearing in the absence of the student provided that all reasonable effort has been made to contact and/or accommodate the student.

6.

Procedure During the Committee Meeting

6.1

The student/respondent may be represented or accompanied at the meeting of the Final Review Committee by a colleague/friend (who is a member of Swansea University) or a Students' Union representative. The student shall have the right to hear all the evidence, to have a representative speak on his/her behalf, to call and question witnesses, and to draw to the Panel’s attention other evidence which has been submitted by the prescribed deadline.

6.2

A student/respondent who intends to be accompanied and/or represented shall inform the Secretary of the name of the person accompanying him/her in writing in advance of the meeting and shall state whether or not the person has legal qualifications. Such persons cannot normally attend in a legal capacity, unless this is approved by the Chair in advance of the meeting and this would be at the Chair’s discretion, based on the particular circumstances of the case.

6.3

The student shall have the right to be accompanied by a language translator if his/her first language is not English or Welsh. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange such translator if required and to be responsible for their fees. The student shall notify the Secretary of the name of the translator in advance of the meeting.

6.4

The student may choose to have the Committee of Enquiry hearing conducted in either English or Welsh. Students wishing to have the hearing in Welsh shall notify the Secretary, upon receiving notification of the hearing date, in order for translation services to be arranged by the University’s Welsh Language Office. Such services shall be provided free of charge to the student.

6.5

The Final Review Committee shall base its decision on the evidence of the student's submission, the testimony of any witnesses and (where relevant to the case) the testimony of the Chair of the Committee of Enquiry or the Academic Appeal Board concerned, together with any further evidence, which it considers relevant.

6.6

Witnesses can only be concerned with evidence relating directly to the case and shall normally withdraw after questioning.  They shall normally be interviewed individually.  A witness cannot therefore attend both in the capacity of witness and representative. The Chair of the Panel might wish to consider allowing witnesses to remain in the hearing throughout the proceedings provided that both parties agree to this in advance or the Chair considers it pertinent to the case for a witness to remain.

6.7

At a meeting of the Final Review Committee, the Chair has discretion to declare inadmissible any matter introduced by the student, or by any person accompanying the student, if he/she deems it not directly related to the contents of the request for review previously lodged in writing by the student.

6.8

The decision of the Final Review Committee shall be conveyed by the Acting Director, or his/her nominee, as soon as possible to the student and the relevant respondent or Committee/Board Chair.

6.9

The Final Review Committee is obliged to hear the case on the basis of the facts presented before it at the meeting of the Final Review Committee and not in the light of anything that the Panel members may have heard or discovered outside of the Committee meeting.

7.

Outcomes Available to the Final Review Committee

7.1

The options available to the Final Review Committee shall be to:

  1. dismiss the request for review and uphold the original decision of the Committee of Enquiry, University Officer or Academic Appeal Board;
  2. uphold the request for review and recommend appropriate action to be taken based on the circumstances of the case.

7.2

The decision of the Final Review Committee shall be final, and the matter shall, therefore, be regarded as closed.  There shall be no discussion of the decision of the Final Review Committee with the student or any other person. The Acting Director will issue the student with a Completion of Procedures letter.

8.

Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

8.1

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) operates an independent student complaints programme pursuant to the Higher Education Act 2004. All higher education institutions in England and Wales are required to comply with the Rules of the programme. The OIA is not a regulator; it handles individual complaints against higher education institutions and is a free service to students.

8.2

Students who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal may be able to complain to the OIA providing that their complaint is eligible under its Rules (these are on the OIA website).

8.3

Students will need to send to the OIA a Scheme Application Form within three months of the date of the Completion of Procedures letter. (See 6.3 above.)  A Scheme Application Form can be obtained from the Acting Director's Office and/or the Students' Union and may also be downloaded from the OIA website. Students should send a copy of their Completion of Procedures letter to the OIA with their Scheme Application Form.

9.

Reporting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

9.1

The Academic Registry shall report to the Regulations, Quality and Standards Committee statistical information relating to Final Review on an annual basis. It shall be the responsibility of the Regulations, Quality and Standards Committee to monitor the data and make recommendations to Academic Boards or Colleges as appropriate.

9.2

It shall also be the responsibility of the Regulations, Quality and Standards Committee to review the Final Review Procedures and their effectiveness and make recommendations for changes, where appropriate, to be considered by Senate.