The current focus on sport can help to illustrate how the law works in the area of education and public law. As we have seen recently, it is possible under the rules governing gymnastics for a competitor to lodge a protest to a team of nominated independent competition judges who are authorised to review the difficulty rating of a gymnast's performance. It is hard to see how such an internal review of a competitor's performance would be further amenable to scrutiny in the courts, unless there were a serious failing in the application of the rules. In the same way, academic assessments may be reviewed internally by a university which has authority over its own degree awarding powers, but academic judgments will not be reviewed by the courts (or the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education under its Scheme) unless there is a flaw in the process leading to the academic award or some other basis for challenge:
“…disputes suitable for adjudication under a (university’s) procedures may be unsuitable for adjudication in the courts. This is because there are issues of academic or pastoral judgment which the university is equipped to consider in breadth and in depth, but on which any judgment of the courts will be jejune and inappropriate. This is not a consideration peculiar to academic matters: religious or aesthetic questions, for example, may also fall into this class. It is a class which undoubtedly includes, in my view, such questions as what mark or class a student ought to be awarded or whether an aegrotat is justified." Lord Justice Sedley, Clark -v- University of Lincolnshire and Humberside (2000), Court of Appeal.
The situation is different for misconduct cases in both sport and education. The Badminton World Federation (http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00d8341f935853ef01538efd08e1970b/post/www.bwfbadminton.org), for example, has recently considered whether competitors have breached the BWF’s Players’ Code of Conduct for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport (sections 4.5 and 4.16 of the BWF's Code of Conduct). The BWF appears to have considered such matters through its Disciplinary Committee and through internal appeals. Likewise students can be required to comply with codes of conduct on academic and other matters, subject to internal appeals or reviews. Such cases are more amenable for scrutiny by the courts as a last resort, however, for example to ensure that a fair process has been applied, to have oversight of the rationality of the disciplinary decision and to ensure that the decision is within the power of the decision-making body.