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Appeals Procedure

Procedure Regulations for Appeals against Assessment Decisions
FRCOphth, Refraction Certificate, DRCOphth examinations and the Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery

Candidates must also read the accompanying Notes of Guidance (Appeals Procedure – Annex B) before deciding whether to make an appeal.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 A candidate who has attempted Examinations or Assessments of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists may, in the circumstances set out below, have the right of appeal against the result.  The sole grounds for appeal are that:

i.   there is evidence of a procedural irregularity in the conduct or content of the Examination or Assessment (including administrative error) which has adversely affected the candidate’s performance;

ii.  there were exceptional circumstances which adversely affected the candidate’s performance in the Examination or Assessment

1.2 Appeals will not be accepted on the grounds that a candidate:

i.     considers his or her efforts were under-marked;

ii.    did not understand or was unaware of the Examination or Assessment Regulations;

iii.   seeks to question professional or academic judgement.

1.3 The outcomes of an appeal which may be requested by a candidate are:

i.   The examination attempt is discounted from the candidate’s examination history;

ii.   A full or partial refund of the examination fee;

iii.  Only in cases where there is evidence of a procedural irregularity and where the candidate is deemed a borderline fail (that being within minus one standard error of measurement of the final pass mark) the examination result is amended from a fail to a pass.

1.4 The College will endeavour to deal with exceptional circumstances fairly and consistently. Please note that candidates presenting for an examination are thereby deemed to be fit and healthy to do so.

1.5 Candidates unable to attend for an Examination or Assessment due to exceptional circumstances are advised to submit details to the Head of the Examinations Department of the College before taking the Examination or Assessment, or immediately (i.e. within three working days) afterwards.  Failure to do so will be noted should an appeal be submitted subsequently and may affect the outcome.

1.6 Candidates who become unwell during the course of an examination should notify the Head of the Examinations Department or Senior Invigilator immediately and subsequently provide medical certification within 10 working days.

2.0 The Preliminary Procedure

2.1 A candidate wishing to appeal must submit a written representation to the Head of the Examinations Department to arrive within two months of the date of dispatch of results.  The written representation must include the full and detailed grounds of appeal and all of the documentary evidence (such as medical certification) that the candidate wishes to be considered, together with the requested outcome as per Regulation 1.3 above.

2.2   A fee of £250.00 must be received which will be refunded should the appeal be successful.

2.3 The Head of the Examinations Department will collate the relevant documentary information and present it anonymously to the Chairman of the Examinations Committee.

2.4 The appeal will be considered initially by the Chairman of the Examinations Committee.

2.5 If it is considered that the appeal request falls outwith the permitted grounds, the Head of the Examinations Department will inform the appellant that the appeal has been rejected.  This will be the end of the appeal process regardless of whether there are further circumstances subsequently cited by the appellant.

3.0 Consideration of the Appeal by the Appeal Panel

3.1 If it is agreed that there is a prima facie case in support of the appeal, the Chairman of the Examinations Committee will convene an Appeal Panel within 8 weeks of the candidate’s written representation being received if reasonably practicable.  The Appeal Panel will comprise of the following:

i .the Chairman of the Examinations Committee, who will act as Chairman of the Appeal Panel

ii. a College Office bearer

iii. a member of the College Panel of Examiners and Assessors

iv.  a member of the College Lay Advisory Group

3.2 The Head of the Examinations Department will act as Secretary to the Appeal Panel and will attend the Panel as an observer.

3.3 The Panel will consider the appeal in the light of written evidence presented and will afford the appellant the opportunity of a hearing.  The Head of the Examinations Department will agree the date of the hearing with the candidate.

3.4 No member of the Appeal Panel will have had any current or previous connection with the candidate or have been involved in assessing the candidate in the Examination or Assessment under appeal (or at least not the part of the Examination or Assessment which the appeal addresses).

3.5 In exceptional circumstances (for example, absence or illness), the Chairman of the Examinations Committee may nominate a representative or Deputy to replace him/her on the Appeal Panel.

3.6 The candidate will be invited to present his or her case in person to the Appeal Panel.  The candidate will be entitled to be accompanied by a friend.  The friend may advise and counsel the candidate but will not be allowed to make statements or take any part in the proceedings.

3.7 The Appeal Panel may request from the candidate corroborative evidence not already supplied, such as previous examination performance, the candidate’s portfolio and supporting evidence from trainers.  This must be submitted to the Panel prior to the hearing.  The Panel may also seek evidence from any other person, such as those concerned with the Examination or Assessment under appeal, and may summon any person to give evidence at the hearing.  Members of the Panel and the candidate may question any person before it.

3.8 If the appeal is rejected, the Secretary to the Appeal Panel will inform the candidate of the reasons for the Panel’s decision and this will be the end of the appeal process regardless of whether there are further circumstances subsequently cited by the candidate.

3.9 If the Appeal Panel upholds an appeal for outcomes requested under Regulations 1.3i and 1.3ii the Appeal Panel’s decision will be notified to the candidate by the Secretary to the Appeal Panel.

3.10 If the Appeal Panel upholds an appeal for a change in the result under Regulation 1.3 iii the case will be referred, with a report from the Appeal Panel, for a final decision by the College Council.  In order to do so the Panel must be satisfied that, had the candidate been able to complete the examination or assessment in the normal way, he/she would have passed it.

3.11 The appellant will normally be informed of the decision regarding an appeal within 28 days of the hearing.  The appellant will be informed if any delay is likely to occur.

3.12 There is no further right of appeal.

3.13 Any question arising in connection with the conduct of an appeal shall be determined fully and finally by the Chairman of the Appeal Panel, who may take whatever steps he/she considers necessary to ensure that the appeal is handled fairly and efficiently.

4.0 Referral to the College Council

4.1 The authority to change any Examination or Assessment result rests entirely with the College Council.

4.2 Where the Appeal Panel recommends that a candidate’s result be altered (under Regulation 1.3 iii above) the College Council will consider the report of the Appeal Panel and agree by a majority whether it should be accepted on the grounds that, had the candidate been able to complete the Examination or Assessment in the normal way, he/she would have passed it.  The details of the appeal will be presented to the College Council anonymously, excluding the details of the candidate involved.

4.3 The decision of the College Council shall be final and will be communicated to the candidate by the Secretary to the Appeal Panel.  This will be the end of the appeal process regardless of whether there are further circumstances cited subsequently by the candidate.

5.0 Complaints Procedure

5.1 Candidates wishing to contest the administration of the appeals process should refer to the College Complaints Procedure

Policy last updated March 2013

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