Higher education Academic judgment in student appeals

30 May 2013

David Lawson and Leon Glenister represented the Claimant in a challenge to the OIA heard his month. The OIA is prohibited by statute from considering any questions of “academic judgment”.  University appeal systems often prevent challenges to academic decisions, at least after the decision of the exam board.

The question for the Court was how widely to define academic judgment.  This case concerned plagiarism but other examples include grades for pieces of work and whether examiners at masters and doctorate level are suitable.
What is now clear is that there is no simple rule that any particular question is inevitably one of academic judgment – the question needs to be decided on a case by case basis.

Since “academic judgment” is outside the OIA’s jurisdiction the Court also had to consider how the OIA’s jurisdiction should be determined – accepting that this was not a question for the OIA subject to review but for the Court and that limits to jurisdiction should probably be narrowly construed.

David Lawson and Leon Glenister were instructed by Amara Ahmad of Fisher Meredith.

For further information, please refer to the judgment in R (Mustafa) v Office of the Independent Adjudicator [2013] EWHC 1379 (Admin).