The members of the IET’s Registration and Standards Appeals Panel play a vital role in upholding standards and making sure registration candidates are treated fairly. Their collaborative approach has earned them the coveted IET Core Values Award (CVA) for Teamwork.
The IET Registration and Standards Appeals Panel reports to the IET Registration and Standards Committee (R&SC). It comprises one advisor, 26 reviewers and two adjudicators. During 2019, this dedicated team of volunteers dealt with 26 appeals from candidates around the world.
The Panel gives candidates who have failed to achieve their professional registration or fellowship objective an opportunity to appeal against the outcome. They enter a fair and robust appeals process where unbiased experts review their entire application and reach an equitable conclusion.
WSP Technical Director Peter Sheppard is the Deputy Adjudicator and the R&SC Vice-Chair. He said: “If for some reason a candidate who is seeking professional registration or election to Fellow feels that they were not given their opportunity to shine, we do our best to understand the reasons why and decide whether or not they should be offered a second chance.”
Grounds for appeal
There are only two possible grounds for a successful appeal:
- Serious or exceptional personal, unanticipated mitigating circumstances that caused the candidate to under-perform (perhaps as the result of a family or travel problem)
- A significant fault within the IET’s processes or mishandling of the application, which interfered with the candidate’s ability to present their case.
The Panel’s job is to judge whether either of these two grounds is applicable to each appeal case – and if so, whether there is a chance that it affected the outcome.
Appeals Advisor Mark Jones is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Brighton, a former R&SC Chair and Appeals Adjudicator, and the Panel’s Appeals Advisor. He said: “We have a really good process that is clear about the criteria for success.
“If there is any doubt, we favour the candidate and give them another chance. This puts them back into the normal assessment process, which has the same rigour in terms of judging professional competence – this ensures that the IET’s high standards are maintained. If the same assessor keeps featuring in appeal cases, they will be offered appropriate further training.”
How does the process work?
A candidate wishing to submit an appeal application is first invited to contact Appeals Advisor Mark – around half take up this offer and nearly all follow the advice they receive.
Mark said: “We used to receive many unclear submissions that were made without an understanding of the basis for appeal – this is possibly because they were written while the candidates were still feeling disappointed about being declined.
“As the Appeals Advisor, I help candidates to understand the appeal processes and criteria, including the importance of writing concisely, so that they can aim to meet the appeal requirements.”
Each appeal received by the Panel is sent promptly to two reviewers, who independently read through the documentation supplied. They put a great deal of effort into every appeal case to uphold the integrity of the IET and to give each candidate an equal opportunity. Importantly, they do not confer.
Reviewing an appeal usually takes around two hours to complete. It requires an ability to digest a large amount of information, filter out extraneous details, focus on the grounds for appeal and summarise as efficiently and clearly as possible. It’s a big responsibility.
Adjudicator Richard Hines, Head of Operations at the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Based on my experience so far, there’s no such thing as a straightforward appeal. I always think about the impact that the appeal has on the candidate, especially where sensitive mitigating circumstances are cited, but it’s important to remain objective at all times.”
The reports from the two reviewers then go to the adjudicator, who makes the final decision.
All pulling together
The Panel members were understandably delighted to receive the IET CVA for Teamwork. It’s richly deserved: without this vital team working together in such a structured way, candidates would not have recourse to an effective, fair appeals process.
Mark said: “We volunteer because we want to help upcoming engineers. We’re all committed to the task, which makes it easy to move things forward. It’s enjoyable to be able to share each other’s expertise, experience and knowledge: we do a better job as a team than any individual could do alone.
“We are likeminded individuals with a common goal – and that makes it easier to succeed than can be the case in the world of paid work! We also have an excellent IET support team in Stevenage who keep us on track and coordinate things as necessary.”
For Richard, great teamwork is about being able to draw upon the rich mixture of knowledge and expertise that each person brings to the team, to solve a problem or a particular issue. “Trusting colleagues, being objective and welcoming constructive challenges are also really important characteristics – and we’re fortunate to have all of those in our team,” he added.
“What I appreciate most about being part of the Panel team is the feeling that we’re all pulling together on something that’s important, adds value to the work of the IET and is beneficial to candidates.”
Peter views teamwork as a combination of giving and receiving: “I don’t think people realise how experienced this team of staff and volunteers is. I’m always impressed by the time, dedication and effort that are put into resolving appeals, to make sure that candidates get a fair resolution.
“I learn something new from every appeal. By sharing that ‘down the line’ with our fellow Panel members, we can only get better.”
Here’s a final teamwork tip from Mark: “Listen, digest and provide feedback, but do it in a constructive and pleasant way. Actually, that’s not a bad tip for life in general!”
If you’re interested in learning more about joining the Appeals Panel, please contact the Registration and Standards Support Unit email@example.com.