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General Faculty Regulations and Appeals

General Faculty Examination Regulations

Withdrawal from an Examination

Appeal Regulations

Appeals Regulations – Fees Schedule

Specialist Training Curriculum for Occupational Medicine

 

General Faculty Examination Regulations

F1. Application to take a Faculty examination must be delivered to the Faculty Office by the advertised closing date, and accompanied by full payment of the fee.

F2. No candidate will normally be allowed more than six attempts at any Faculty examination. Any attempt that ends in a withdrawal from the examination as a whole which is accepted by the Faculty as arising from extenuating circumstances under Regulations F13, F14 and F15 will not count towards this number.

F3. However, following six failed attempts at a Part 1 MFOM examination, Part 2 MFOM examination, or dissertation, made for purposes of higher specialist training a candidate may apply to make a further attempt (or attempts) subject on each occasion to the approval of the Faculty’s Specialist Advisory Committee (SAC). Before granting approval(s), the SAC will require the candidate to submit evidence of additional education experience. The SAC will be the final arbiter as to the form that evidence must take and as to whether a further attempt or attempts can be allowed.

F4. Candidates with special needs or disabilities should contact the Faculty Office to discuss any specific requests to modify the conduct of the examination or make other reasonable adjustments. Requests must be supported in writing and will require the candidate to provide appropriate evidence. They should be made at least 10 weeks before the examination in question, to allow adequate time for consideration. (If delays arise in obtaining the information the Faculty needs, the candidate may have to withdraw from the examination and re-enter for a later sitting.)

POLICY OF NON-DISCRIMINATION

F5. The Faculty’s policy is to make every effort not to discriminate on grounds of gender, age, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion or disability. Written papers are anonymised before marking. Multiple choice questions are marked by computer and in other types of paper, each question is normally marked by a different examiner or pair of examiners. After marking, monitors check the papers to confirm that there is no evidence of discrimination. The Faculty relies on individuals – its staff, members and examination candidates – to point out where there is a potential for discrimination, so that it may be avoided.

F6. The language of the examinations is English and, except where otherwise indicated in the Regulations, the examinations will be based on practice in the United Kingdom. Candidates are expected to be able to communicate effectively with patients in the practical elements of assessment. The examiners try to draft the written papers in clear, unambiguous English, avoiding the use of acronyms. If necessary, the medical invigilators of written examinations will explain any unclear sections.

F7. Examinations are scheduled when the Faculty can obtain the requisite facilities. The Faculty is therefore unable to guarantee that examination dates will avoid all religious holidays on all occasions. However, it does try to avoid them whenever possible.

CONDUCT OF THE CANDIDATE

F8. The Faculty may refuse to admit to the examination, or to proceed with the examination of, any candidate who infringes a regulation of the Faculty Board or whose behaviour is considered by the Board to be prejudicial to the proper management and conduct of the examination. See the Faculty’s Policy and Procedure on Misconduct in Examinations and Assessments.

FEES

F9. The fees for admission to the examination will be determined annually by the Faculty. Details will be promulgated in any advertisement for the examination and on the fees and subscriptions page.

F10. There will be a separate fee to be paid for the certificate on successful completion of the requirements for the qualification.

WITHDRAWAL BEFORE THE CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRY

F11. Candidates who submit their application and payment of fees, and subsequently withdraw before the closing date for entry, will receive a refund of their fee (less 10% administration fee).

WITHDRAWAL AFTER THE CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRY AND BEFORE TAKING THE EXAMINATION

F12. Candidates who withdraw after the closing date for entry will not normally be entitled to a refund of fees.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES AND ILLNESS

F13. Candidates who fall ill or suffer extenuating circumstances after the closing date for entry may apply to have these factors taken into account and to have part of the exam fee refunded. Extenuating circumstances are defined as a situation outside of the control of the candidate and which is accepted by the Faculty as liable to have a material impact on the candidate’s capacity to undertake his/her examination. Significant personal illness, bereavement, major domestic events, maternity complications and the illness of a close family member are examples of extenuating circumstances that may be accepted with suitable supporting evidence. To qualify, the Faculty must be made aware of the circumstance before the exam as a whole is taken.

F14. Candidates will be required to submit evidence in support of their request to have a potentially extenuating circumstance considered under F13. The evidence supplied must be:

  • from an appropriate source (e.g. where circumstances are medical, evidence must be provided from a GP or other medical practitioner)
  • independent (e.g. supporting letters from relatives or friends would not be acceptable)
  • relevant and sufficiently detailed (e.g. sufficient to explain why they are withdrawing from the examination, why their examination result would have been adversely affected, and relating to illness or circumstances in the allowable time period).

F15. Candidates must submit an application in writing to the Chief Examiner (via the Faculty office) including supporting evidence for consideration (under regulation F14). This must be provided within four weeks of the examination as a whole taking place. If approved, candidates will receive a refund of 80% of their fee. No consideration will be given, irrespective of the circumstances, thereafter. The steps are summarised in Annex A.

WITHDRAWAL AFTER THE EXAMINATION

F16. Requests for a withdrawal from an examination on the basis of extenuating circumstances cannot be submitted retrospectively i.e. after the examination as a whole has been taken. The Faculty cannot lower the pass standard to allow a candidate to pass if they have felt unwell or suffered extenuating circumstances. Similarly, these will not constitute one of the acceptable grounds for an appeal against an examination result.

FORMAT OF THE EXAMINATION

F17. The examinations will comprise the general components shown in Table 1. Some examinations require passes in the written components of the examination before moving forward to oral or clinical components. In certain of the examinations, passes in some components of an examination may be carried forward in the event of overall failure. Details are given in the regulations for specific examinations.

F18. The weight given to each component of each examination will be given in individual examination regulations. The weight given to individual questions in essay or MEQ papers will normally be displayed on the examination paper.

F19. A candidate’s examination performance will be assessed relative to an external standard set by the examiners. Raw marks may be adjusted to preserve a common standard between examinations.

EXAMINERS

F20. Examiners are appointed and trained by the Faculty (including in matters of equality, diversity and equal opportunity). Refresher training is provided on a regular basis. In addition, the performance of examiners is monitored and standardisation applied. All are required to be in good standing and up to date with their Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

RESULTS

F21. As soon after the examination as possible, candidates will be provided by mail with details of their marks. Candidates who fail an examination will receive the relevant Chief Examiner’s feedback on problem areas of performance. Results will not be provided by telephone under any circumstances.

F22. In accord with the Data Protection Act 1998, candidates will have access on request to any information held on them by the Faculty. Please note that this does not include exam answer sheets. Papers will be retained until the commencement of the next diet of that examination.

APPEALS

F23. If a candidate is dissatisfied with the conduct of his or her examination or assessment, he or she should write to the appropriate Chief Examiner. This initial inquiry must be made by post (not by e-mail) and must be received by the Faculty within 21 days of the date on which the decision to which the inquiry relates was issued. Applications made after this time cannot be considered under the Appeal Rules. The grounds for dissatisfaction should be clearly and fully stated, and it may help the candidate to read the criteria for appeal, which are set out in the Faculty Board’s Appeal Rules and Procedures.

F24. The Chief Examiner, or an appointed deputy, will write a letter of response; and will, as a matter of course, enclose with this letter details of the Faculty’s Appeals Rules and Procedures.

F25. If after receiving the Chief Examiner’s response (under regulation F24) the candidate remains dissatisfied, he or she may make a formal appeal to the Faculty’s Academic Dean. He or she must do so by post (and not by e-mail), such that the Faculty receives the appeal within 21 days of the Chief Examiner’s response being issued under regulation F24. No extension to this time limit will be considered.

F26. Any formal appeal made following the process and timescale of regulation F25, and of the Appeal Procedures, will be considered by the Academic Dean under the Board’s Appeal Procedures, details of which will have been sent to the candidate with the Chief Examiner’s response.

F27. The Appeal Procedures will specify the items that must be included in a notice of formal appeal under regulation F26. The appellant must also submit an appeal fee, the scale of which is defined in an annex to the Appeal Procedures. A portion of this appeal fee (as specified in the annex) will be non-refundable, unless the appeal is upheld.

F28. If the documentation submitted under regulation F25 does not conform to that stipulated in the Appeal Procedures, then the appeal will be deemed to have failed. No allowance of extra time will be made if mandatory items are missing.


 

Withdrawal from an Examination

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withdrawal from an exam


 

Appeal Regulations

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Faculty of Occupational Medicine examinations exist to confirm that practitioners have demonstrated competencies in the field of occupational medicine, and allied subjects.

1.2 The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (the Faculty) is committed to ensuring that all examination candidates are treated fairly and consistently during Faculty Examinations. These Regulations allow candidates to request a review of the conduct of their examination where they believe they may have been treated unfairly, and allege impropriety or bias of some kind and can produce appropriate supporting evidence. The procedures that should be followed regarding re-calculation, Reviews and Appeals are set out in these regulations.

1.3 These regulations are to be used to investigate all examination concerns.

1.4 Candidates should note that by virtue of entering to sit an examination they are deemed to have understood, and agreed to respect and abide by all relevant regulations, including these Appeal Regulations.

1.5 Any dispute as to the interpretation of these regulations shall be referred to the Academic Dean whose decision in the matter will be final.

1.6 All examination marks are awarded in accordance with strict guidelines. Papers cannot be remarked, and the marks awarded by the Examiners are final.

1.7 Every attempt will be made to arrange suitable premises for all examinations. There may however be extraneous circumstances (external noise, low indoor temperature) which are outside of the direct control of the Faculty. As any such extraneous circumstances will affect all candidates they will not provide grounds to challenge the outcome of any examination.

1.8 There are four routes whereby a candidate can raise questions about their performance.

  • 1.8.1 Re-calculation; this is a administrative check of the addition of the marks awarded to a candidate and will be conducted by a member of Faculty staff.
  • 1.8.2 Stage 1. Initial enquiry; this is a letter sent by the candidate to the relevant Chief Examiner. The Chief Examiner, at his or her own discretion, may seek further clarification from the candidate, but will not engage in extended correspondence. The Chief Examiner will send a single ‘Letter of Response’ addressing the points raised.
  • 1.8.3 Stage 2. If the candidate remains dissatisfied after receipt of ‘Letter of Response‘, the candidate can request a ‘Review’; where a candidate alleges irregularity, or bias in the process of the examination which affected his or her marks.
  • 1.8.4 Stage 3. Appeal; this is where the candidate feels dissatisfied with the outcome of a ‘Review’ and requests a hearing by an independent Appeal panel.

2 DEFINITIONS

2.1 A ‘Re-calculation’ is defined as a candidate’s request for an additional calculation of their marks. Such a request should not be based on any alleged irregularity or bias.

2.2 A ‘Review’ is defined as an assessment of the process of the examination where impropriety or bias in the examination is alleged by the candidate.

2.3 An ‘Appeal’ is a process when the candidate is dissatisfied with the outcome of a ‘Review’.

2.4 The dissertation submitted as part of the competencies for MFOM is regarded as an ‘examination’ under these regulations.

2.5 A candidate who has attempted any part or component of an examination may in the circumstances set out below, have the right of appeal against the result. The only eligible grounds to seek a ‘Review’ are;

  • That there is clear evidence of a procedural irregularity or bias in the conduct of the examination (including administrative error) which has adversely affected a candidate’s performance.

2.6 A request for a ‘Review’ will not be accepted on any other grounds, for example that a candidate;

  • Considers his or her efforts were under-marked.
  • Failed the examination
  • Did not understand or was not aware of the relevant examination regulations.
  • Seeks to question the exercise of professional or academic judgement

2.7 A ‘Panel’ is the group of professionals who conduct the ‘Review’ or hear an ‘Appeal’.

3 RE-CALCULATION

3.1 Marks are awarded by Examiners in accordance with strict guidelines.

3.2 Prior to the confirmation of results, all examination papers undergo thorough checking procedures. All marks are verified by the appropriate Chief Examiner. A candidate who is dissatisfied with the determination of his/her result, but is not alleging an impropriety or bias, may after receipt of his/her results letter, request an additional calculation of his/her result. The Re-calculation will be undertaken by an appropriate member of Faculty staff. There will be a fee for this, which will be refunded if an error is identified. Applicants should be fully aware that errors found during re-calculation are very rare, and marks may be deducted if in the course of re-calculation if it is discovered that the candidate was awarded too many marks when their paper(s) were initially marked.

3.3 A request for re-calculation must be made;

  • 3.3.1 Within 21 days of the results letter being issued
  • 3.3.2 In writing, using the appropriate form, returned to exams@fom.ac.uk and accompanied by the administration fee.

3.4 The candidate will be informed of the result of the re-calculation within 20 days of receipt of the request.

4 LETTER TO CHIEF EXAMINER (STAGE 1)

4.1 If a candidate is dissatisfied with the conduct of his or her examination or assessment, he or she should write to the appropriate Chief Examiner. This initial inquiry should be submitted via the Initial Inquiry form and be received by the Faculty within 21 days of the date on which the inquiry relates. Applications made after this time cannot be considered under these Rules. The grounds of dissatisfaction should be clearly and fully stated. It may help the candidate to read the criteria for appeal which are set out in Paragraph 2.6.

4.2 The Chief Examiner or appointed deputy, will write a letter of response and will enclose with this letter a copy of these Appeals Regulations.

4.3 If after receiving the Chief Examiner’s response the candidate remains dissatisfied, he or she may make a formal request to the Faculty’s Academic Dean for a Review. He or she must do so by completing the Review Request form, such that the Faculty receives the Review Request within 21 days of the date of the Chief Examiner’s response being issued. No extension to this time limit will be allowed.

5 REVIEW (STAGE 2)

5.1 An applicant can only ask for a Review if he or she remains dissatisfied with the Chief Examiner’s response and if there is clear evidence of procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination (including administrative error) which has adversely affected a candidate’s performance.

Illustrative Examples are:

  • Organisation: e.g. wrong or missing documentation, or instructions, error in timing allowed, which was not resolved during the examination sitting.
  • Content: questions not relevant to specific examination, questions on a topic not included in the curriculum.
  • Conduct: prior to, or during the examination process the examiner asked personal questions about the candidate’s age, gender, beliefs, disabilities, workplace, or experience which affected the candidate’s performance.
  • Determination of the result: the examiner(s) did not follow the agreed marking methods.

This list is only indicative.

5.2 No Review will be undertaken of matters which relate solely to the examiner’s judgement.

5.3 Any request for a Review must be made, using the ‘Review Request Form’ and returned to the Faculty. The candidate must include:

  • Candidate Examination number
  • Name of Examination taken
  • Date & place of Examination
  • Details of the alleged irregularity or bias
  • All supporting evidence.

5.4 Faculty staff will acknowledge receipt of the form and forward it to the Academic Dean for consideration.

5.5 The request must be submitted within 21 days of the date of the Chief Examiner’s response being issued. The administration fee must be received with the request.

5.6 The Academic Dean will consider the admissibility of the request.

5.7 If the request is not deemed admissible, the candidate will be informed in writing within 20 working days of the request being received.

5.8 If the Academic Dean,

a) Is of the opinion that the Review request is in the nature of request for guidance or re-calculation, rather than a challenge of the examination procedure or result due to alleged irregularity or bias, the request will be handled as a Re-calculation and/or (if appropriate) guidance will be given.

b) Finds that the matter on which the Review is based contains any errors of fact, the candidate will be informed without delay and the candidate will be invited to indicate whether he or she wishes to pursue the matter. If he or she does not, or no reply is received from within 10 working days, the Review will deemed to have been dismissed.

c) Finds that there is prima facie evidence of irregularity or bias, the Academic Dean will convene a Review Panel.

5.9 The Review Panel will assess the evidence submitted by the candidate, and seek such detailed information from the Faculty about the relevant examination as it considers necessary.

5.10 The Review Panel will be composed as in Appendix A.

5.11 The Review Panel will meet, or discuss the case by teleconference, as soon as practicable.

5.12 The Review Panel may;

a) Conclude that the matter on which the Review is based, provides evidence of irregularity or bias, in the examination. If it does, the Panel will recommend any action necessary to rectify the situation identified, and the candidate will be informed of the findings and any corrective action taken.

b) Conclude that the matter on which the Review is based does not provide evidence of irregularity or bias in the examination.

5.13 The Review Panel will produce a written record of their decision which will detail their responses to the points raised by the candidate. A copy of the ‘Review Decision Document’ will be signed by the Chair of the panel and sent to the candidate.

5.14 The Review Panel has the power to decide whether all, part of or none of the Review fee will be returned.

6 APPEAL (STAGE 3)

6.1 If a candidate who has received the ‘Review Decision Document’, remains dissatisfied with the findings of the Panel and wishes to challenge the points set out in the letter, he/she may submit an Appeal using the Appeal Form. This should set out the grounds of his/her Appeal. No Appeal may be made in matters which relate solely to the examiner’s judgement. The Appeal application form must be accompanied by the fee. The Appeal must be received within 21 days of the date of the Review Panel’s Decision Document.

6.2 Receipt of the Appeal application will be confirmed in writing by a member of Faculty staff.

6.3 An Appeal Panel will be convened as set out in Appendix B. Wherever possible, the date of the hearing will be agreed and the candidate notified of this date within 20 working days of the receipt of the Appeal Request application.

6.4 The timescale for exchange of documents is set out in Appendix C. No further documents will be considered in the hearing except at the request of panel members.

6.5 The Appeal Hearing Process is described in Appendices C and D.

6.6 At the conclusion of the proceedings, which are to be conducted in accordance with Appendices C and D, the panel will reach its findings.

The findings the panel can make are:

a) The Appeal is dismissed; no further Appeal may be considered.

b) The Appeal is justified in whole or in part but that the matter does not justify any further action.

c) The Appeal is justified and;

The result of the Appellant’s examination shall be declared void and that he/she shall be allowed to re-sit the examination without payment of any fee.

6.7 The Appeal Panel has the power to decide whether, all, part of or none of the Appeal fee be returned.

6.8 On announcement of the Appeal Panel’s decision, the Panel will give reasons for its decisions, which will be confirmed in writing, (the Appeal Decision Document) within the subsequent 10 working days. The document will confirm the Panel decision and answer each substantive point raised by the appellant. The decision document will be signed by the chair of the panel as being an accurate record of the panel’s findings.

6.9 After the decision of the Appeal Panel there can be no further appeal.

7 EXAMINATION FEEDBACK IN GENERAL

7.1 The Faculty recognises that on occasion candidates may wish to comment on the process of examinations in general. The candidates should feel confident that any such comments will be handled in a fair and consistent way. The Faculty is committed to improving the entire process of examinations and welcomes any feedback.

7.2 The feedback comments will be not be construed as alleging any irregularities or bias in the examination and will therefore not trigger a Review or Appeal.

7.3 Comments should be sent to the Faculty whose staff will forward information to the relevant Chief Examiner or Chief Examiners and ensure that the points made are considered at the next examination committee meeting

7.4 The comments must refer to;

  • Name of Examination
  • Date & place of Examination
  • Description of any adverse event/situation
  • Suggestions of how to improve any such adverse event or situation in future

7.5 There is no time limit on feedback comments, but it is helpful if they are submitted as soon after the relevant examination as possible.

COMPOSITION OF REVIEW PANEL

  • The Chair of Panel should be the Faculty Academic Dean.
  • A Fellow of Faculty who has had no involvement in running the examination in question, nor has knowingly had previous direct involvement with the training of the candidate. (Candidate will be identified by candidate number.)
  • An Officer of Faculty, Director of Assessment, or Director of Training who has knowledge of examination processes.
  • A member of Faculty staff will provide the secretariat.

COMPOSITION OF APPEAL PANEL

  • A Lay chair who has had no involvement in the running of the examination in question
  • A Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine who is not a member of the Faculty Board, nor an officer of the Faculty who has had no direct involvement in the running of the examination in question, nor has knowingly had previous direct involvement with the training of the candidate.)
  • A Fellow of another Royal College, or Faculty.
  • A senior member of Faculty staff, normally the Head of Professional Standards, will provide the secretariat.

PROCESS FOR APPEAL PANEL PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE APPEAL

  • Receipt of Appeal Request Form
  • CEO or Head of Professional Standards send letter to appellant to acknowledge receipt of Appeal Request.
  • CEO or Head of Professional Standards constitutes Appeal Panel and agrees date of Hearing.
  • This task will be completed within maximum of 20 working days from receipt of Appeal Form. The date of the hearing will be as soon as the panel can arrange it.
  • Exchange of documents from Faculty and Appellant. (Not less than 10 working days before hearing date.) No further documents will be permitted at the hearing unless at the request of Appeal panel members.

APPEAL PANEL HEARING PROCESS

  • For transparency and accuracy a Dictaphone would normally be used to record the Appeal hearing.
  • The panel may wish to meet in advance of the actual hearing.
  • The chair will set out the points to be addressed in the hearing.
  • The panel will hear evidence in the following order, and may interrupt and ask questions of the individual giving evidence.
  • The appellant presents the relevant facts of the case.
  • The Faculty presents relevant facts of the case.
  • The panel can ask to hear evidence from relevant witnesses who may be in attendance to improve understanding of the facts of the case. The Panel shall have discretion as to how many witnesses may be called by either party.
  • The appellant may ask, via the chair, questions of the Faculty representative for information which is thought to be material to the case. The chair will decide whether the question is relevant.
  • The Faculty may ask, via the chair, questions of the appellant for information which is thought to be material to the case. The chair will decide whether the question is relevant.
  • The Faculty representative will give a summary statement.
  • The appellant will give a summary statement.
  • If necessary, the panel will ask further questions of any party.
  • The panel will retire and discuss the case.
  • The chair of the panel will give an oral report of the response to each of the points raised by the appellant and the outcome decision. This will be followed by Appeal Decision Document sent within the next 10 working days.

 

Appeals Regulations – Fees Schedule

Candidates will be charged a fee for each individual stage of the review and appeals process.

The following fee levels (for all types of assessment) will apply for the period 01 September 2015 to 31 August 2016:

  • Recalculation fee: £100
  • Stage 2 – Review fee: £500
  • Stage 3 – Appeal fee: £1000