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Complaints and disputes


One of the task of an examination board is settling cases that are brought by a student or students concerning assessments or the final examination. Complaints can be about violation of the regulations as stated in the EER and Rules & Guidelines of the Examination Board. Students may complain, rightly or wrongly, f they believe that an assignment has not been verified fairly or on the basis of the criteria indicated in advance. Or if an examination was much more difficult than could be expected or included questions that did not fit in with the subject matter as being taught.
In generally students will be encouraged to discuss any issues with the examiner first. But if no satisfactory solution is found, students may approach the examination board. The EB will investigate the matter, if necessary with the help of an assessment expert, and see if they can come up with an advice to solve the problem. The committee is not in a position to adjust the assessments or grades given. That is up to the examiner. 

If the students don't agree with the proposed dcision of the examination board, if they want to appeal the examination board decision, they can go to Board of Appeal for Examinations, see below.

Board of Appeal for Examinations (CBE) and Higher Education Appeals Tribunal (CBHO)

The Board of Appeal for Examinations (Dutch: CBE) handles appeals against written decisions by the Examination Board and examiners (e.g. about the order, approval, scoring or re-examination of courses, practicals, exams or assignments). Any student (prospective or former student/external candidate) can lodge a formal complaint, appeal or objection through the UT Complaints Desk. The Complaints Desk is located at Student Services (SACC) on the 2nd floor of building Vrijhof. The Complaints Desk doesn’t handle the case itself but assesses the issue to decide on the follow-up. If necessary the Complaints Desk will send the case to the proper authorities. 
The term within which an appeal must be submitted is six weeks. In urgent cases, a student may request a temporary facility pending a decision on the primary question. The student must be able to demonstrate a direct interest. The student's request must be submitted in writing, along with arguments to support their case, to the chair of the Appeals Board for Examinations via the UT Complaints Desk. The chair of the board will make a decision on the case after the management, the board and the applicant have been interviewed.   

In the decision-making process in general, the CBE will hear the involved parties and always take into account the law, the EER that applies to the study programma in question and the Rules & Guidelines of the examination board concerned. If no satisfactory solution can be found, students may appeal to the national Higher Education Appeals Tribunal (Dutch: CBHO). The Appeals Tribunal gives a final ruling on such an appeal. On the Duch part of the site, you can read how to bring legal proceedings and what to expect of the process and procedures from the perspective of both sides, the person appealing and the accused. 

Regarding their own ruling in different cases, it can be very interesting for an examination board to read about rulings of the CHBO. On their site you can find a lot of decisions that are of legal or public interest. The website contains rulings from 2016 onwards. Decisions made before 2016 have been archived by the CBHO. You can search the archive. 
During a VSNU-conference in 2016, Frank Hendriks (Hobeon) gave two presentations about cases CBHO dealt with. For a short article, see [here].

Be prepared as Examination Board

Because complaints may occur, the examination board must exercise due care in the execution of its tasks; ensure that the policy and regulations are clear, communicate this and, in the event of a difference of opinion with a student or lecturer, motivate the individual decisions based on the policy or regulations.
Common sense, good governance, open communication and polite manners are indispensable ingredients. However, this is not enough, because apart from the fact that situations are not always unambiguous, neither are the sections of the law. And a good interpretation is only possible if the intention of the wordings is also taken into account. This does not always turn out to be easy.
These words originate from Frank Hendriks of Hobéon. Read more in the report of the workshops het provided during a VSNU meeting in 2016. The report refers to his PowerPoint with casuistry.

How to inform students

It is recommended to indicate on the website of the examination board of a study programme (or faculty) how students can contact the examination board if they have a complaint. It is also advisable to refer to the possibilities to appeal against a decision. For students, information about these possibilities, can be found in the Student Charter and on the site of Student Affairs Coaching & Counselling (SACC)