Start with an informal appeal.

You have 15 days to start an academic appeal. Late appeals are not usually considered, without a very compelling explanation for why you are late.

Attend the exam review session or email the subject coordinator to ask for the breakdown of your final mark, or clarify why you received that mark. They may be able to provide you with a marking rubric. You will need to understand why you received your mark if you are going to explain why the mark is incorrect. Your informal appeal may be through a portal or emailed to the subject coordinator. Check for your Faculty’s procedures (www.sydney.edu.au/students/academic-appeals). You will need to be clear about exactly where your mark was not correct, e.g., in section 2 the questions asked for 3 theories, and was worth 9 marks, but you wrote about 2 theories, so you should get 6 marks. Focus on the facts of your case rather than the emotional impact for you.

Explain why your mark was not correct.

It is not good enough to say that you thought you should have received more marks because you worked really hard, or that you should pass because it will be bad for you if you don’t. Similarly having a “bad” teacher is unlikely to be considered a reasonable basis for a change of marks. You should use the complaints process for this situation, or you could also contact the Subject Coordinator, or the Head of School/Department.

Explain what you want.

Have a realistic idea of what outcome you want, e.g., a second academic opinion, a remark, an extra assessment, a different type of assessment or a change of weighting towards a particular piece of work. Not all of these options are available for every situation, but it is helpful if you know what you want. Keep in mind that the Faculty do not need to give you what you want, but it might be helpful to see if it is possible.

Consider their reasoning.

They should respond to you explaining why you received that mark. Consider if their explanation is reasonable. If so, it is a good idea to focus on your future studies, rather than chasing an academic appeal that you will not win.

Make a formal appeal.

If you are able to refute their explanation, you can make a formal appeal to the faculty. You have 20 working days from receiving the informal appeal result, to submit your formal appeal. Use the procedure outlined in the link above. Again, don’t miss the deadline. If you are not successful you should receive an explanation of why. Again, you should consider their reasoning.

Appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB).

If you were not successful with your formal appeal and you think that the Faculty have not correctly considered your appeal, or that the Faculty have breached policy, you may be able to appeal to the Student Appeals Body (SAB). The deadline is 15 working days from the Faculty response and you will need to clearly identify areas of procedural unfairness or breach of policy with the Faculty’s decision. This may include faults in the formal appeal outcome, or that the Faculty did not fully consider all of the information provided to them. If the appeal is to be considered you will meet with the SAB, together with a representative from the Faculty, who will ask you any questions that they need answered to make a decision. They will not consider new information from you, only what you have included in your letter, so make sure your letter has everything you want to say.

Be realistic.

The appeal process can be a long one, so be sure that you have that time and emotional energy. Appeals are not often successful, and must be very clear in outlining where you have received the incorrect mark.

The University was wrong.

If you have exhausted the appeals procedures within the University and feel that the University has still not followed its policies or there is procedural unfairness you can lodge a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman. Note: this is not just another level of appeal that you can use if you are unhappy with the decision. You will need to show that the University has not followed it policy or has been procedurally unfair. The Ombudsman will not change a decision but can make recommendations to the University on actions they should take to resolve the matter. This step almost never leads to a change in mark.


For more information about making an academic appeal, talk to an SRC caseworker: help@src.usyd.edu.au.