Requirements for submitting an appeal
The Appeal Committee can only process and assess an appeal if the formal requirements for submitting an appeal have been met:
Subject of the appeal
Appeals relating to announcements made by faculty bodies or other organizational units of the University of Bern may be submitted to the Appeal Committee (Article 76 paragraph 1 UniG).
The starting point of the appeal process is an announcement as the subject of the appeal. It is to be requested from the responsible office if necessary. Announcements open to appeal with the Appeal Committee are made by faculty bodies and other organizational units of the University of Bern (Article 76 paragraph 1 UniG). In particular, these include the announcements made by faculties, graduate schools or competence centers in relation to studies, e.g.
- Announcements of grades open to appeal (see below)
- Awarding of titles
- Exclusion from studies etc.
As well as other announcements made by faculties and other organizational units (in particular cost announcements made by the university clinics).
Simple notification of a grade – either via e-mail or KSL – does not generally constitute an announcement and is therefore not an admissible subject of appeal. If you want to appeal against a grade, you can
- either request an announcement of grade open to appeal from the faculty within 30 days from the date you were notified of your grade (see article 3 of the directives) and appeal against it.
- or wait to submit an appeal until the annual announcement of grades open to appeal is made at the end of the year (see article 4 of the directives).
Please also take note of the Appeal Committee's rulings relating to grades as a subject of appeal.
If an appeal is submitted without an announcement according to Article 76 paragraph 1 UniG – and thus a valid subject of appeal – being present, the Appeal Committee will not take up the appeal.
Appeals are to be submitted within 30 days from the date that the contested announcement was published (Article 67 VRPG). This is a statutory deadline and therefore cannot be extended (Article 43 paragraph 1 VRPG).
Announcements are considered to have been opened once they have been delivered by post. The appeal period begins on the following day (Article 41 paragraph 1 VRPG). If a written notification sent by post is not collected, it is considered to have been delivered on the seventh day following the unsuccessful delivery attempt.
In contrast to federal law, the administrative law of Bern according to the VRPG does not suspend its appeal period at any point (no "judicial holidays").
The appeal period of 30 days is considered to have been complied with according to Article 4 paragraph 2 VRPG if the appeal has been submitted by post by the last day of the time limit (postmark). If the time limit expires on a Saturday, Sunday or other holiday recognized by federal or cantonal law, the appeal period shall end on the next working day (Article 41 paragraph 2 VRPG).
Appeals not submitted within the deadline will not be taken up by the Appeal Committee.
Form of the appeal
Two copies of the appeal – each personally signed – must be submitted in writing (in German or French). It must contain a request, a justification and a list of facts and evidence. The contested announcement and all other tangible pieces of evidence must be enclosed (Article 32 VRPG).
The following legal requirements are placed on the form of the appeal (Article 32 VRPG):
1. The appeal must be made in German or French (paragraph 1).
2. Two copies of the appeal – each personally signed – must be submitted in writing (paragraphs 2 and 3).
3. The appeal must contain a request, a list of facts and a justification (paragraph 2).
4. The contested announcement must be enclosed. All other tangible pieces of evidence must also be enclosed (paragraph 2).
The request must be worded with sufficient precision that the Appeal Committee can determine exactly what the decision is that it is being asked to make.
The justification must make it clear to the Appeal Committee why an appeal is being made against the contested announcement and what complaint is being made. Simply claiming that the contested announcement is incorrect therefore will not suffice. At the very least, the justification must logically demonstrate the extent to which the complainant believes that certain aspects of the situation have been incorrectly/not fully established and/or that legal principles or the principles of exercising discretion have been violated (see grounds for appeal).
If an appeal is unclear, incomplete or not written in one of the permissible languages, the Appeal Committee shall reject it on the grounds that improvements are required (see Article 33 VRPG).
Any party with an interest worthy of protection in the removal or amendment of the contested announcement is entitled to submit an appeal (see Article 65 paragraph 1 VRPG). The following conditions must be met for a person to have an interest worthy of protection in contesting an announcement:
1. They must be adversely affected by the announcement, and
2. They must have a current and practical interest in the appeal procedure.
A person is adversely affected by the announcement if they have suffered a legal or actual disadvantage as a result of it. The complainant is to be immediately deemed at such a disadvantage if the contested announcement has, for example, resulted in the rejection of the complainant's application or in their exclusion from their studies.
Current and practical interest
The complainant has an actual and practical interest in the appeal procedure if the (positive) outcome of the proceedings would have a (positive) impact on their legal or actual situation. This is to be immediately deemed the case if approval of the appeal would, for example, lead to the complainant's admission to a study program, to the reversal of the decision to exclude the complainant from their studies, or to the cancellation of or a reduction in a hospital bill. In regard to appealing against exam results, such an interest is said to exist if, in the event that the appeal is upheld, the requested increase in the individual grade would have an effect on the overall outcome of the complainant's studies, i.e. would result in the complainant passing a degree course or graduating with a higher distinction.
If the complainant does not have an interest worthy of protection in the appeal process, the Appeal Committee shall not take up the appeal.
Grounds for appeal and powers of review
In principle, an appeal may be lodged on the basis of any grounds permissible under Article 66 VRPG: incorrect/incomplete assessment of a situation, legal infringement and unreasonableness of the contested announcement. However, appeals against exam results on the basis of unreasonableness are not admissible (Article 76 paragraph 4 UniG).
Complaint principle (parties' obligation to state reasons)
The complaint principle applies to the appeal process. This means that a decision will only be made on a particular issue to the extent that the complainant requested in their appeal. The content of a party's complaint is a binding definition of the matter in dispute for the Appeal Committee.
Admissible grounds for appeal
In accordance with Article 66 VRPG, the Appeal Committee can assess the following claims (complaints) to the extent that they are asserted:
- The contested announcement is based on an incorrect or incomplete assessment of the relevant circumstances.
- The announcement contains an error of law, i.e. it violates applicable laws and regulations, for example, or the authority issuing the announcement has used arbitrary, disproportionate or irrelevant criteria in exercising the discretion afforded to it (misuse of discretionary powers).
- The announcement is unreasonable. Important information: The claim of unreasonableness (inappropriate use of discretionary powers) is not permitted for appeals relating to exam results (Article 76 paragraph 4 UniG). The Appeal Committee shall not assess such complaints. For this reason, it cannot, for example, examine whether a test was marked too strictly (= discretionary powers). However, it can intervene if, for example, marks have been added up incorrectly (= incorrect assessment of the circumstances) or the assessment is contradictory, disproportionate or was based on irrelevant criteria (= error of law).
Requirements placed on the justification
The justification must make it clear why and to what extent an appeal is being made against the contested announcement and what complaint is being made. Therefore, it is the duty of the complainant, for example in the case of an appeal against exam results, to claim and justify a legal infringement that the Appeal Committee can correct. If the complainant simply states that they feel their performance was given too low a grade, the requirement of sufficient justification has not been met. Here, a complaint is merely being made against the unreasonableness of the grade, meaning that no claim is being made that can be examined by the Appeal Committee. This will lead to rejection of the appeal.