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MARTINT330
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I am submitting academic appeal and i need advise please,

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JA: Hi. How can I help?
Customer: Hi i am submitting academic appeal and i need advise please
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: UK
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have submitted the first appeal, but the school has rejected it, so i am submitting the second appeal
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No

Hello, I am happy to help with your enquiry today.

May I clarify what was your appeal all about? Thank you.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
The issue that I will like help with relate to appeal to my university regarding a lower degree that my examiners recommended. . I will try to be brief at this stage, but I can provide further details if need be.My Ph.D. journey started in 2015 and despite up and down I was able to pass all my preliminary exams. In 2019 I had my first Viva and the examiners recommended a one-year correction for me. During the period I am doing the correction, my external examiner became pregnant and indicated that she can not be able to reassess my thesis. In this regard, the school gets another external examiner to re-examine my thesis. After his review, he and the internal examiner requested another viva. In both exams, I was able to defend my work and the examiners recommended that I should have a Ph.D. pending a major correction of 6 months in the second case.When I have almost completed my corrections, and as being advised by my school to contact the examiners if I have any issues, I send an email to the examiners to ask them regarding some tables that I am having concerns with (as they involved running analysis that I did not have access to the software at the time). I know we earlier discussed elaborately on the tables with the examiners during my viva. The examiners failed to reply or indicate acknowledgment of my email until after I finally submitted my work.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Before I submitted my work, my supervisors advised that I find a way to correct the tables which I did. After my submission, and waiting for another 3 months the examiners finally write to let me know that they are recommending that I should have a lower degree of Mphil and that I should remove those tables that I eventually corrected. The examiners refer to the email I send to them that they did not acknowledge as the basis of their decision.I believe the ward of a lower degree of MPhil is unfair and unjust for the following reasons:- I believe the examiners use the version of the thesis that I earlier submitted to them with the uncorrected tables as they refer to my email as a reason for their recommendation. The full examiners' report and the annotated thesis that the examiners used are still not being shared with me.
-
- - Based on an email that I exchanged with the external examiner, I understand that my resubmission was assessed by only the internal examiner. This is against at least two examiners normally recommended by the school (I can provide a copy of this email if need be). I believe if both examiners have reviewed my resubmission, one of the examiners would pick the changes that I made to the work.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
There are 43 changes that the examiners recommended that I should change following my second viva. The examiners have accepted 40 changes that I made but because of only two issues that they are not content with they recommended a lower degree.- The contentious table that the examiners based their judgment involve analysis using software that I did not have access to. The examiners are well aware of the predicament and still insist that I should make further changes to the tables.- My supervisor has resigned from the school for over one year and the school has not replaced him. Though I relied on him most time, his assistance has been much less helpful. The school has still not yet assigned someone to take his role all this while.These are just some of my points, however I am available to provide further clarifications if need be.

I understand. In that case, since they rejected your first appeal, I believe you may be able to take the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). Essentially, to make 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 affected your performance.

Lastly, the OIA can't change a grade because you disagree with your examiners.

Is there anything else I can help with today?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thank you very much for this advise, however, I am submitting the second appeal, but I want advise if my submission can be a ground for appeal
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
This is appeal that I am submittingMy work heavily relied on an interpretation of African culture that is specific/peculiar to northern Nigeria. Therefore, the presentation and interpretation of the study result may differ based on the cultural background of the interpreter, background knowledge of the research area and the deep understanding of northern Nigeria culture. My thesis assessment was undertaken by different examiners at different stages with different backgrounds and different angles of view of how the thesis should have been addressed and presented.
- My first viva/JER was conducted by two examiners both British. Therefore, their angle of view and interpretation of the work may be entirely different from a student who is of African descent/ heritage.
The outcome of the first viva/JER – Resubmission
- The second viva/JER was undertaken with a new external examiner from Ghana, hence the different angle of view and a new set of questions that are not entirely based on the first JER.
The outcome of the second viva/JER – Award of PhD with a major correction
- The last/ third JER was conducted by one examiner (British) as the external examiner clearly indicated that he did not partake in the assessment (please see external examiners email).
The outcome of the third JER – Lower award of MPhil
Hence, I believe if my work is being assessed by a person of northern Nigerian heritage/origin with deep knowledge and understanding of the cultural characteristics of the communities that the research was undertaken a different outcome will likely be reached.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Could this be a good ground for appeal?

I believe you should provide more evidence regarding your issue because your appeal might have been rejected on the basis of exceptional circumstances and no or insufficient evidence is provided to substantiate your circumstances, or the evidence is not sufficient to corroborate the impact on your academic performance.

Also, you should provide that there exists evidence of prejudice or of bias on the part of an examiner - this way, your appeal might be accepted.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thank you very much, I will add this
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
This is very help, I really appreciate this support

No problem. Is there anything else I can help with?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Regarding the issue of bias you advised, I can recall my supervisor telling me that the examiners are giving me lower grades even before my submission. And at the time of my submission, my supervisor requested that I should make further changes to the work which I tried to do but my supervisor did not check. And behold the examiners based their judgement on the last correction request that my supervisor made. Then following the submission, I was asked at some point by the school to proceed with the submission of my thesis in the university institutional repository to confirm the completion of my correction but my supervisor write to the school that the examiners has not completed their assessment and I should wait until that is being completed. It took another month before the examiner finally decided that I should get a lower award.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Should I add this part as it can prove that the examiners most have tips by my supervisor to give me lower award?
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
The selection of the examiners was made solemnly by my supervisor without consulting me and the examiners appear to be my supervisor's friends. So I guess she may have influenced the final decision on my result

I see. Yes, indeed. This can be used as evidence of procedural irregularity in the consideration of your case of such a nature as to cause doubt whether the result might have been different had there not been such an irregularity

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Should I share the first appeal that I submitted and the school response to you to have a look please?
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I write to appeal the ratification of my award to receive a MPhil instead of a PhD (please see result letter). I write this appeal with the hope that the school will allow me to resubmit my thesis for the award of a PhD instead of a MPhil. This is because I believe that my candidature has been exceptionally affected during my correction and submission period for the following reasons:Background1. In February 2020, I was requested by my organisation to return to Nigeria for physical verification as I had come to the UK on study leave granted by the government of Nigeria. My approved study leave had also expired at this time, and I needed to request an extension to enable me to complete my corrections. Both of these required my physical presence in Nigeria.
2. While I was in Nigeria, the flight that I was supposed to take to return to the UK was suspended because of the restriction of movement related to COVID-19. Ironically, my visa also expired while I was still in Nigeria.
3. Subsequently, I made several attempts to return to the UK to at least access my saved work and other items as my travel was unplanned. In this regard, as a student, I had to apply for Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) through the school. This was necessary for me as an international student to get a visa that could enable me to return to the United Kingdom (UK) and continue my study as a full-time student. Nonetheless, all of my CAS requests were declined, therefore I could not return to the UK to access my study materials and other notes that were essential for me to complete my correction/study.
4. For my first CAS refusal dated 6 May 2020, I was told that because I was outside the UK and there was no indication from the Home Office on when the visa application would resume, my application had to be declined. I was advised to reapply when a successful visa application would be considered and my application would be treated as a priority (please see Decline CAS request 1).
5. However, after following a more odious process than the first time, my second CAS request was also declined on 23 September 2020. The reason given was that my academic situation did not allow for the issuance of the CAS as I was scheduled to resubmit my thesis on 17 December 2020 (please see Decline CAS request 2). This is despite following a long process of reapplication, including the changing of my course title and applying for ATAS that took over 6 weeks (please see ATAS Certificate). As I am returning as a self-sponsored student, I also deposited funds in the bank and had to wait until the funds matured before I could apply again.
6. The recollection of these past experiences prompted me to complain to the examiners during my viva in January 2021. This was held remotely while I was still in Nigeria. During the viva, I told the examiners about the challenges that I had faced. I told them that I would need to return to the UK if I was to modify my analysis as they requested. I pleaded with the examiners to kindly include the request for my return to enable me to address my corrections on time.
7. Ironically this was still not considered as part of my third CAS request (dated 11 May 2021) which was also not been upheld (please see attached CAS Request). This is despite my submission date has been earmarked for 22 September 2021. Notwithstanding this, I still submitted another CAS request in January 2022 following a request from the school. The request was also declined initially on account that I would not be in the UK in time before my course end date. This was eventually approved 4 months after submission (please see attached CAS approval).
8. During these difficult times, I wrote on numerous occasions to my supervisors about the need for me to return to the UK to be able to complete my corrections (Please see email to supervisors to return to the UK).
9. There is also a need to mention the frequent challenges that I faced while continuing my work in Nigeria including unstable electricity (as we hardly have 8-10 hours electricity a day and in many cases, less), an unreliable and poorly sustained internet supply (that makes it difficult to search, read or download peer review articles), a lack of access to study materials (as I do not have access to the books and other stationaries needed for my study), and a lack of essential tools including the software needed for my analysis.10. In the same period, I was mandated by my organisation to resume my full-time work. Ironically, my study leave was also cancelled as my organisation required evidence to show my travel commitment (i.e., VISA) for them to grant a study leave. This added to my challenges and made it even more difficult for me to get enough time (like other students) to concentrate on my PhD work.
11. It is important also to state that I lost a substantial part of my work during this time (in Nigeria) when my computer crashed because the unstable electricity b

Can I look over your school's conclusion as to why your appeal was rejected also?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
10. In the same period, I was mandated by my organisation to resume my full-time work. Ironically, my study leave was also cancelled as my organisation required evidence to show my travel commitment (i.e., VISA) for them to grant a study leave. This added to my challenges and made it even more difficult for me to get enough time (like other students) to concentrate on my PhD work.
11. It is important also to state that I lost a substantial part of my work during this time (in Nigeria) when my computer crashed because the unstable electricity burn-out my computer. Due to this, I had to stay for months with no access to my work until I had enough money to buy another computer. I communicated all of this to my supervisors and the school (please see attached complain 1,2, and 3).
12. After my submission, I was involved in a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) during which I sustained an injury to my left foot. The injury was severe and required a skin graft. As I was unsettled at the time, the skin graft broke down as I could not remain on the strict bed rest requested by the doctor. Hence, I was in pain and incapacitated during that last period and could not be able to travel to the UK even after I was informed by the school that I have been given A2 award with minor correction with a submission deadline of 26/01/2022 (please see attached injury 1, 2, 3, biopsy result and compliance team letter).Issues raised by the examiners for the decision of lower award of MPhil13. Following my viva, the examiners raised 46 concerns/recommendations that need to be addressed (please see JER 1). I tried to address all these concerns/recommendations except for three concerns/recommendations that I was unable to adequately address because of limitations of working from Nigeria (please see JER 2). These concerns are:a. “The presentation of the qualitative results could be improved. The results presented currently lack analyses of the participants’ responses (more interpretation needed), and there large quotes lifted from the transcripts directly onto the report. Please reduce the heavy reliance on just quotes in places, and add more interpretation”.
b. “In some places several quotes (up to 6 quotes) were used at one point. In your analyses of the results please consider drawing on fewer quotes (1-2 quotes) to tell your story well”.
c. “Quantitative results is better presented. However, some clarity is needed in the logistic regression analysis results section (see table 5.19-5.21). The variable “poor” should not be interpreted as reference point. The reference point should refer only to the independent variables (on the left) and not the dependent. If properly presented this should read “males who responded “poor”, “fair” and “good” compared with females (as the reference point) etc. The variables poor should be included in the analysis and not treated as a reference point”.Exceptional circumstances that prevented me from adequately addressing the examiners recommendations.14. Firstly, the raised concerns both require the use of statistical software (NVIVO and SPSS) which I did not have access to in Nigeria. The NVIVO software is restricted within the UK and users have to sign an undertaking with the university to confirm this restriction (please see attached IT email and Nvivo agreement form). SPSS, although not restricted like NVIVO, is also inaccessible from Nigeria. The software is heavy and can take numerous hours to download even within the UK. Thus, it requires an uninterrupted and fast internet which is not available in Nigeria.
15. Secondly, I was unable to use the free version of the software due to the limitations on the amount of data I had access to. This is because my research involves participants that are above the required limit.
16. Thirdly, during my viva, we had a discussion with the examiners concerning the limitations of working from Nigeria and the need for me to return to the UK if I must address these concerns. Throughout my correction period, I hoped that I would be able to get back to the UK in time to be able to access the necessary software. I submitted a CAS request, but this was not approved on time before my submission.
17. Fourthly, considering these limitations, I wrote to the examiners prior to my submission to request their opinion on whether this analysis should be removed from the thesis as I was struggling to re-analysed the data (please see email to examiners). I also wrote to the school and my supervisors to seek an extension to allow me more time for the examiners to reply/give feedback, but I could not get a reply on time (please see email to supervisor to seek submission extension and email to SA-PGR). Therefore, I had to proceed with the submission considering the deadline given by the school.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
18. Finally, I sustained an injury to my foot following a road traffic accident and surgery that incapacitated me and add to my challenges of travelling. The hospital follow-ups are necessary at the time, which adds to the constrained time that I have to complete my work.Conclusion19. As explained above, I believe that the lack of access to appropriate statistical software, the limited study resources in Nigeria, the injury that I sustained while completing my work and the inadequate time available are the main reasons for my failure to adequately address the recommendations of the examiners.
20. I have discussed these concerns with my school and I have a letter from the Research Support Office confirming that if I would like another opportunity to submit for PhD, I should submit an academic appeal following the ratification of my MPhil award (please see attached Research office letter).
21. As I am now back in the UK, and I believe that if I was given another chance, I would be able to adequately address all of the examiners’ recommendations and resubmit for a PhD award in a timely manner.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
This is the first appeal that I submitted
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
here is the school decision
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Your appeal has been considered at Stage 1 of the Academic Appeals Procedure 2021/22 by the School of Science, Engineering and Environment.
The following summarises the issues raised in your appeal:
• You submitted your appeal on the basis of: -
Your appeal related to the decision of ‘No award of PhD’ following your resubmission viva. At this point your candidature was terminated.
You raised the following issues in your appeal:
1. Return to Nigeria as required to complete physical verification, and to
request an extension to your study leave.
2. Suspension of flight to return to UK due to Covid.
3. Further attempts to get flights to return to UK to access saved work, and an
application for Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) through the
School were unsuccessful.
4. 1st CAS request declined 6 May 2020.
5. 2nd CAS declined 23 October 2020.
6. You informed the examiners at your viva in January 2021 of your difficulties
and asked them to include a request for your return to address your
corrections.
7. 3rd CAS was initially declined, then accepted four months after submission.
8. You wrote to your supervisor on numerous occasions noting your need to
return to the UK to complete your corrections.
9. Difficulties with unstable electricity and unreliable and poorly sustained
internet.
10. You were required to return to full-time employment.
Exceptional circumstances affecting assessment candidates, which for
good reason, have not been notified to the University through routes
outlined in the Code of Practice for the Conduct of Postgraduate Research
Degree Programmes.
11. Loss of work due to computer crash and had no access to your work until you could buy another computer.
12. You were involved in a Road Traffic Accident and subsequent impacts prevented you returning to the UK.
13. You addressed all the concerns/recommendations raised by the examiners except three which you could not adequately address due to the limitation of working from Nigeria. Details of these are set out in your appeal.
14. You request permission to either omit sections of the work or have an extension to complete the work.
The outcome you were seeking was the opportunity to resubmit your thesis for the award of a PhD instead of a MPhil.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
In considering your appeal, the School considered the documentation you provided as part of your appeal and supporting documentation, the submitted thesis and corrections made and email which the PGR Support Team had been copied into.
The School noted:
1. You presented extensive documentary evidence and a detailed account of
the basis for your appeal.
2. You have faced challenges due to covid restrictions on travel and have also
been involved in a road traffic accident.
3. You have also faced difficulties in accessing IT equipment and reliable
internet whilst in Nigeria.
4. However, you were given a covid extension and ample opportunity to
address the major corrections requested by the examiners.
5. The decision to transfer to a lower award was an academic decision made
following a thorough examination of the resubmitted thesis presented.
6. The decision was made in line with the University regulations.
7. The reason that the examiners could not recommend award of PhD for the
resubmitted thesis is that some of the major corrections requested had not been addressed. This is despite you having submitted a record of corrections made, stating that all of the requested major corrections had been addressed.
8. In your appeal, you state that you could not address the three outstanding major corrections because of limitations of working from Nigeria. However, the first two of these corrections were focussed on reducing reliance on quotes, enhancing interpretations and improving clarity of the narrative. There is no evidence presented that justifies not having made these corrections.
9. Given that this is a resubmitted thesis, in which the candidate has failed to respond adequately to major corrections requested by the examiners, thework does not reach the standard required for PhD and hence the transfer to the degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is appropriate.
I am sorry to advise you that you have not established grounds for appeal. This concludes consideration of your appeal at Stage 1. If you are dissatisfied with this outcome, you may seek a review of the decision on all or any of the following three grounds:
a) thattherewasaproceduralirregularityatStage1oftheAcademicAppeals Procedure which has materially disadvantaged the student;
b) the emergence of new and relevant evidence which, for good and reasonable cause, was not available during Stage 1;
c) thatevidenceisavailabletoshowthattheoutcomereachedatanearlier stage was manifestly unreasonable. In this context, unreasonable shall be taken to mean perverse, i.e. that the outcome was not a possible conclusion which a similar hearing or process of consideration might have reached.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Apologies for the typos as I copy and paste from the document
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I started responding to the first appeal decision based on irregularity in how the appeal has been considered as detailed below

I see, that your appeal was rejected due to the fact that you have not established grounds for your appeal and it is indeed that you have failed to respond adequately to major corrections requested by the examiners. In that case, as stated, you can ask for an administrative review for procedural irregularity; then, as I advised, you should obtain an evidence of procedural irregularity in the consideration of your case of such a nature as to cause doubt whether the result might have been different had there not been such an irregularity.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I believe there is an irregularity in how my appeal has been considered for the following reasons:1. The assessment relied on my second assessment (second JER) without due consideration on my first assessment (first JER). In my first JER, the examiners requested that I shall considerably expand on the qualitative chapter, that I should rely on the rich data source that I have and I should present the different voices of the participants in the study with emphasis in drawing on the parents’ voices separately to the other voices (please see question 8 subsection a, b and c in JER 1).This request means that I have to maintain more quotes and add to the initial narratives. Similarly, during the first viva, the examiners requested more quotes to back up my data interpretation and specifically advised that I should utilise more of the parent’s narratives in my work. It is on this basis that I maintained extra quotes to preserve the different views of the participants. It is important to note that the number of quotes utilised is still less compared to what has been in my first submission. This request has also further been addressed in the final (MPhil) thesis that was assessed and submitted to the school.With regards ***** ***** enhancing interpretations and clarity of the participants’ narratives, this has also been substantially improved compared to the earlier work presented. It is on this basis that I presented my work to the examiners as corrected since this is amended version of the work with better clarity compared to the version presented in the first assessment.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
2. The Covid extension was given to help me overcome the challenges faced while working in Nigeria and to enable me to sort out the disruptions that I encountered due to my computer that burnt/crashed. It is important to state that this extension was given to help with the first resubmission and before my second viva/ second JER during which I was examined by a new external examiner with a new set of questions that are different from my first JER. Hence, the extension did not help much in my second viva/JER since the examiners asked different questions.3. During my second viva the recommendation of the first JER was not exactly followed. This put me at a disadvantage as a new set of questions (different from the first JER) were asked. Some of the outstanding corrections are part of the new questions and therefore I am at a disadvantage at that stage since I did the second viva and whole corrections in Nigeria with limited access to my initial work, note and the software essential for my correction.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I will add the issue of examiners bias to make a strong case to this

I examined your grounds to appeal. Since your grounds have been established, in this regard, I believe you have a strong argument.

Thank you for your question on JustAnswer. We are always available to help and please do let me know if you have any other questions I can answer for you.

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