The problem of academic judgement


The ‘academic judgement’ of expert examiners cannot be challenged by simply ‘appealing’ for a different mark or result.


Why not?

A useful analogy is to consider how inappropriate it would be to make a complaint to a hospital manager about the mistake made by a surgeon in the expectation that the manager would do the operation again to put the mistake right.

In challenging an examination result or other assessment the first step is normally to show that there has been a procedural flaw in the examination process.

It is is found that there was, an appeal committee may decide to send the decision back to be taken again, either by the original examiners or new examiners (who must also have the relevant specialist expertise).   The appeal committee will not be allowed to substitute a different mark or result.

Courts cannot do that either.  Neither can the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

It is important to remember that even if there was a flaw in the original examination procedure, a new or re-examination will not necessarily deliver a better result.

A recent case may give a glimpse of the complexities of the question of ‘academic judgement':

Cardao-Pito, R (on the application of) v Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education & Another [2012] EWHC 203 (Admin) (16 February 2012)

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Academic judgement