Policy for Applicant Appeals and Complaints

1. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

1.1 The University is committed to providing all applicants with a fair, transparent and professional admissions service. Our Admissions Policy sets out how we select and recruit students based on motivation, achievement and evidence of potential to succeed.
1.2 We recognise, however, that there will be occasions when an applicant will be dissatisfied with either the outcome of their application or the admissions service provided; this policy outlines the steps an applicant should take if they wish to appeal an individual admissions decision or complain about an admissions procedure or service.
1.3 It is anticipated that the majority of admissions appeals/complaints will be dealt with informally, in a spirit of conciliation and without the need for recourse to a formal procedure. As a first step applicants with a comment, concern or complaint about the admissions process/service are encouraged to try to resolve these informally with the person responsible for their application. In many cases, that person can best respond to the matter being raised.
1.4 Applicants should note that there is no right of appeal against the academic or professional judgement of members of staff responsible for making decisions on applications.
1.5 Applicants will not be disadvantaged in any way by engaging in the University’s Appeals and Complaints Procedure.
1.6 The University cannot consider appeals or complaints relating to previous academic years or, in the case of postgraduate research programmes, a previous entry point within the academic year.
1.7 During Clearing and Adjustment this procedure will remain in operation. Applicants should note that the University’s Clearing/Adjustment places are subject to availability and appeals/complaints regarding programmes becoming full cannot be considered.

2. SCOPE

2.1 This Policy applies to the admission of students to all of Aston’s Foundation, undergraduate, exchange, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research programmes, including those delivered by distance learning, on a part time basis or as a Degree Apprenticeship. 

3. DEFINITIONS

3.1 What is an appeal?

  • An appeal is considered to be any request to alter a decision or action taken on an individual application. Examples may include: a request to edit the wording/ terms/conditions of an offer or a request to change a decision of “reject” to a conditional or unconditional offer.
  • An appeal may also include a request to review an admissions policy with regards to an individual’s application.
  • Requests for further information, such as reasons for rejection, or general complaints do not constitute appeals, although they may subsequently lead to an appeal request.
  • Due to data protection legislation, the University will normally only accept appeals directly from applicants. If an applicant wishes the University to communicate with a third party such as a teacher, agent or parent/guardian, the applicant should communicate this in writing to the relevant admissions team (key contacts are provided in the Contacts section). Any such requests should be sent from the e-mail address which the applicant originally used on their application form.

3.2 What is a complaint?

Complaints will normally relate to:

  • a general irregularity in the admissions procedures or policies (including those relating to enquiries)
  • an element of the admissions service provided by the University.

4. HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT

4.1 Applicants who wish to make a complaint should follow the Student Complaints Procedure.

5. HOW TO APPEAL AN ADMISSIONS DECISION

5.1 Grounds for appeal

An applicant may appeal against the handling of their own application if there is reason to believe that:

  • the decision made contradicts the published entry criteria
  • the decision made contradicts the University’s published admissions processes or procedures
  • there was an administrative error in the handling of the application
  • there were mitigating circumstances the University was unaware of. The applicant will need to demonstrate that they could not reasonably have brought these circumstances to the University’s attention at the time of the original decision.

There is no right of appeal for applications where:

  • the appeal is from a third party (unless the third party has written consent from the applicant to act on their behalf)
  • the dispute concerns professional or academic judgement. Examples may include disputes around the equivalency/suitability of particular qualifications for entry to the University, the appropriateness of the content of a personal statement or the assessment of a candidate’s interview performance
  • the dispute concerns a decision already accepted by the applicant
  • the request would contravene government regulations or any contract with external organisations, such as UCAS, Research Councils or the UKVI
  • the application was for a previous academic year or, in the case of postgraduate research programmes, a previous entry point within the academic year

5.2 Procedure for Appeals

Stage One - Feedback

  • In the first instance, if an applicant wishes to appeal the outcome of their application or any aspect of the handling of their application, they should contact the relevant Admissions Team for informal feedback/discussion (key contacts are listed at the end of this document). Depending on the nature of the situation, the Admissions Team may consult with relevant members of academic staff in the School (e.g. Admissions Tutor/ Programme Director) at this stage. It is hoped that most problems will be dealt with informally, in a spirit of conciliation without the need for recourse to a formal procedure
  • Feedback should be requested by the applicant within 30 calendar days of the admissions decision being communicated to the applicant (this may be directly from Aston or via UCAS).
  • The relevant admissions team will normally respond to the applicant within five working days.
  • Feedback at this stage may be given verbally or in writing.
  • Feedback is provided with the intention of enabling the applicant to understand the rationale for the admissions decision. It will not automatically lead to reconsideration of the application.

Stage Two - Appeal

  • Appeals from applicants will not normally be considered unless the applicant has already requested feedback on their application from the relevant admissions team.
  • If an applicant wishes to make an appeal they should submit the request in writing to the Head of Undergraduate Admissions, the Head of Postgraduate Admissions or the PGR Administration Manager (as relevant).
  • The Head of Undergraduate/Postgraduate Admissions/ PGR Administration Manager will normally acknowledge the appeal within five working days, explaining how the matter will be processed.
  • The Head of Undergraduate/Postgraduate Admissions/ PGR Administration Manager will review the appeal, along with the relevant Programme Director or Admissions Tutor from the appropriate academic school.
  • The Head of Undergraduate/Postgraduate Admissions will notify the applicant in writing of the outcome and of any subsequent action to be taken, normally within 15 working days from receipt of the appeal.

Stage Three - Final Review

  • If an applicant responds in writing within 20 working days of the date of the correspondence from the Head of Undergraduate/Head of Postgraduate Admissions/ PGR Administration Manager, providing reasons for dissatisfaction with the findings at stage two (including evidence of why the Head of Undergraduate/Postgraduate Admissions/PGR Administration Manager decision is erroneous), then the applicant may have the appeal advanced to the third stage, as long as none of the exclusions under “Grounds for Appeal” (see p4) apply. Applicants should send requests for Stage Three appeals to the Director of Admissions, Student Recruitment and Outreach.
  • The Director of Admissions, Student Recruitment and Outreach will normally acknowledge the appeal within five working days, explaining how the matter will be processed.
  • The Director of Admissions, Student Recruitment and Outreach will investigate the appeal, alongside the relevant Associate Dean. If the Associate Dean has already been involved in the appeal at Stage Two, the Executive Dean for the relevant College should be consulted instead.
  • The Director of Admissions, Student Recruitment and Outreach will notify the applicant in writing of the outcome and of any subsequent action to be taken, normally within 15 working days from receipt of the request for a stage three appeal.
  • A summary of any third stage appeal must be noted at the following meeting of the Admissions Steering and Strategy Committee
  • There are no further formal internal avenues of appeal beyond this stage.

6. Key Contacts

Undergraduate Admissions Team
E-mail:
ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Postgraduate Admissions Team
E-mail:
pgadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Postgraduate Research Admissions Team
E-mail:
pgr_admissions@aston.ac.uk

Apprenticeships Admissions Team
E-mail: apprenticeships@aston.ac.uk

Head of Undergraduate Admissions
Louise Foster-Agg
L.Foster-Agg@aston.ac.uk

Head of Postgraduate Admissions
Karen Nisbett/Samantha Bonnaud
k.a.nisbett@aston.ac.uk | s.j.bonnaud@aston.ac.uk

PGR Administration Manager
Farat Ara
f.ara@aston.ac.uk

Director of Admissions, Student Recruitment and Outreach
Sapreena Kumari
s.kumari6@aston.ac.uk