Filing an appeal

You can file an appeal with the Board of Appeal for Examinations (CBE) if you disagree with a written decision taken by, for example, the Board of Examiners or an examiner from your faculty. You can only lodge appeal if you are directly impacted by the decision. You can also lodge an appeal if a body of the UM refuses to take a decision.

Against which decisions can you lodge an appeal?

The competence of the CBE is based on article 7.61 paragraph 1 of the Dutch Higher education and scientific research act (WHW). This means you can lodge an appeal against decisions such as:

  • A decision of the Board of Examiners of a faculty or an examiner (e.g. a decision regarding the result of an exam, the refusal of a request for an exemption or the refusal of the request for an extra exam opportunity).
  • A decision regarding the admittance to exams, the application to a master or regarding further educational requirements of a bachelor.  
  • A decision regarding the binding study advice (BSA).
  • A decision regarding the result of a colloquium doctum.

It is recommended to, prior to lodging an appeal – and thus start an official legal procedure – contact the person or body that has taken the decision to discuss your issues with their decision. Sometimes it may be possible to find a mutual solution. You may find information on how to contact the person or body responsible and even possible existing procedures on this on your faculty’s intranet.

How and where to lodge an appeal

You can file an appeal with the Complaints Service Point (CSP). The CSP forwards your objection to the Board of Appeal for the Examinations (CBE). The CBE assesses appeals substantially. Please note: you need to file an appeal within six weeks after the day that the (contested) decision has been published. The term starts the day after the decision has been published or has been send to you. If you do not file your appeal on time, there is a chance the CBE will decide it is inadmissible. This means you forfeit your right to file an appeal!

An appeal is filed on time when it the CSP has received it before the term of six week has passed. This is in accordance with Dutch law (article 6:9 paragraph 1 of the Dutch general administrative law act). You can read more on the deadlines that apply when filing an appeal here.

When you wish to file an appeal, we ask you to fill out the appeal form, provide your motivation for filing an appeal – the grounds for your appeal – and attach a copy or screenshot of the contested decision.

Pdf Appeal form CSP

You can find an example of a motivation for filing an objection in the document below:

Example motivation letter

Appeal ground(s)

Your appeal needs to be based on legal grounds. This means you need to prove that the contested decision breaches the law (article 7.61 paragraph 2 WHW). Examples of this are:

  • A decision violates a general binding regulation, e.g. the Education- and Examregulation (EER) or other UM rules and regulations;
  • The decision implicates the abuse of power or unreasonable decision-making.
  • The decision infringes or violates a general principle of sound administration, for example the principle of legitimate expectations (the Board of Examiners does not adhere to a certain pledge) or the obligation to state reasons (the decision is based on untruthful information or it lacks a sound reasoning).

Naturally, you need to explain and argue these appeal grounds in your notice of appeal!

What to expect from an appeal procedure?

Once you have filed an appeal with Maastricht University (UM), you have started an official legal procedure, to which (parts of) the Dutch General administrative law act (Algemene wet bestuursrecht) is applicable. The procedure will proceed as follows:

Acknowledgement of receipt
After you have submitted your appeal, the CSP sends you a confirmation of receipt by email as soon as possible. The CSP then proceeds to forwards your objection to the CBE. You receive a separate confirmation of receipt by email from the CBE.

Pro forma appeal
It is important to lodge your appeal on time and do not let the six weeks deadline expire. In case you find yourself unable to lodge the appeal on time or in case you are still waiting for answers to your questions, it is possible to lodge a pro forma notice of appeal with the CSP. This means that you announce your intention to lodge an appeal, but refrain from providing the reasons for your appeal. After the CBE has received your pro forma appeal, they will determine the time limit within which you have to provide the grounds nonetheless.

Attempt for amicable settlement
The CBE commences with sending your objection to the responsible UM body that has taken the contested decision. The AC requests this body to review within a reasonable time span if the appeal warrants reconsideration of its decision or a possible amicable settlement. It is likely that the responsible body will contact you via email or phone to discuss your appeal. The result of this inquiry may also be that no amicable settlement is reached, but that after discussion there is you may not wish to proceed with the objection proceedings. In that case, the appeal can be withdrawn by sending a notice of withdrawal to the CBE. 

Hearing
If an amicable settlement is not reached within the set time span, you receive an invitation via email from the CBE for a hearing. Prior to this hearing, the CBE also sends you the written reply of the responsible body who has taken the decision on your letter of appeal. This way, you are able to prepare for the hearing and reply to their arguments during the hearing. During the hearing, the representatives of the responsible body who has taken the decision are also invited. You are permitted to have a lawyer represent you, or authorise somebody else to represent you in your case (but this is not obligatory). You may also bring witnesses and/or experts.

A hearing will not be arranged if your appeal is obviously inadmissible or obviously unfounded, or if neither party wishes to exercise their right to a hearing.

Judgment
The CBE renders a decision within 16 weeks of the day after the date of the contested decision. The judgment is based on the documents submitted and the arguments put forward during the hearing. Possible judgments are:

  • The appeal is not admissible: as a consequence of procedural defaults (e.g. submitting an appeal after the legal term for submitting an appeal has passed without a reasonable ground). The CBE will not assess the objection substantially in this case.
  • The appeal is unfounded: the contested decision stands.
  • The appeal is founded: the contested decision is (partly) voidable and the responsible UM body is required to take a new decision, taking into account the judgement of the CBE.

Please note: The CBE does not have the competence to (partly) replace the contested decision with a new decision that they have taken themselves. This means that they do not have the competency to assess an exam substantially or change a grade or result themselves. They merely make a marginal assessment and check if the body or person concerned has reasonably, without violating any laws or regulations, taken the contested decision.

Competence
The competence of the CBE is grounded on article 7.60 up to and including article 7.62 of the Dutch Higher education and scientific research act (WHW). You can also read more about the competences of the CBE in chapter 8 of the Student Charter.

The rules of procedure regarding an appeal at the CBE can be found in the Rules of Procedure of the Board of Appeal for the Examination.

Temporary injunction

Lodging an appeal does not mean that the implementation of the contested decision is suspended. Sometimes, this means that a verdict of the CBE within a short time is imperative, as the lack thereof may have irreparable consequences. In this case, you may request for a temporary injunction. This means you have to be able to prove that a swift judgement of the CBE is necessary in your case. Examples of this are if you face serious study delay or other serious damages without a judgement. A temporary injunction is an urgent procedure that is separate from the assessment of the merits of your appeal. The chair of the CBE invites both parties to a hearing and give their verdict as soon as possible. This verdict is annulled as soon as the CBE has taken a decision in the proceedings of the merits.  

Timeframe of the appeal procedure

The verdict of the CBE on your notice of appeal follows, in principle, within ten weeks after the term for lodging your appeal has passed (article 7.60 paragraph 4 WHW and article 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the Board of Appeal for the Examinations).

Higher appeal

You may appeal against the judgment of the Board of Appeal to the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State in The Hague. The deadline is six weeks after the decision of the Board of Appeal and there are costs associated with this procedure. For more information and contact details, please visit the website of the Council of State: www.raadvanstate.nl/studentenzaken