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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

I want to appeal my grade, how do I do that?

If you’re unhappy with your degree grade, you can complain or appeal using your university's academic appeals and complaints procedures.
Which?Editorial team

Academic appeals and complaints 

If you’re unhappy with your grade, you must first follow your university’s academic appeals and complaints procedures.

The grounds and processes for appealing the decision of a board of examiners will be set out in your university’s regulations. These should be available on your university’s website. 

Appeals can usually only be heard on limited grounds outlined by the university’s appeals policy.

Many universities will have time limits on when an appeal can be submitted so it's important to act quickly if you're unhappy with your grade.

You can follow our how to appeal a university grade guide for more in-depth advice.

Key Information

In Summary

  • Appeals can only be heard on limited grounds set out by your university's appeals and complaints policy. Complaints can be heard on a wider variety of subjects
  • Your university's academic appeals and complaints procedure should be available online
  • You can appeal a decision to remove you from a course or the results of an individual module or your completed degree grade
  • If you want to appeal you must do so within the time limit set out by your university 
  • If your appeal is unsuccessful you may be able to complain to the ombudsman. This is the OIA in England and Wales and the SPSO in Scotland

Appeal or complaint?

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has produced a code of practice on appeals and complaints which universities must  follow.

Under this code, appeals and complaints are defined differently. An appeal is a request to review the decision of a university board of examiners. 

For example, you can appeal if you believe there's been an error in adding up your results, or there were mitigating circumstances, like an illness, that haven't been taken into consideration. 

You can also appeal a decision to expel you from a course. 

If you want to appeal a degree or module result, use our template letter.  

Complaints are different and can be heard on a wider variety of subjects, including concerns about courses or related academic services. 

For example, concerns about teaching, facilities or adjustments, are dealt with as complaints.  

It's important to identify whether you're complaining or appealing. If you're unsure whether you need to appeal or complain, check with your student services team first.

Time limits and grounds for appeal vary from university to university so it's important to check your university's policy carefully.

My appeal wasn’t upheld

If your appeal wasn’t upheld, you may be able to take the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

To take a complaint to the OIA you must complete an OIA complaint form within three months of the completion of the university’s internal procedures.

The OIA doesn't rule on matters of academic judgement. 

So if you have been given a lower grade than expected this can only be changed if unfair bias can be shown, an error in adding up the grade proved or there were mitigating circumstances that effected your performance. 

The OIA can't change a grade because you disagree with the examiner. 

In Scotland complaints are heard by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).