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This is a guide to the UCL Extenuating Circumstances Procedure.

What is the extenuating circumstances procedure for?

Sometimes things happen which are outside of your control, and effect your ability to perform in your assessment. These are usually unexpected. UCL will take these things into consideration if it is something that significantly affects you and is something that you can evidence and if you inform them at the right time.
The procedure sets out in detail what circumstances will be considered, and the process you must follow to have them considered.

If something is affecting your performance, or there’s even some chance that it might do, it is very important that you inform your department, using this procedure. You will not be allowed to appeal your assessment grades after they have been released, if you are relying on extenuating circumstances that you could have informed your department of before your results were released. If you have any concerns or questions contact the Advice Service as soon as possible to make sure you have all the information you need to make your decision. This could have a serious impact on your award.

It is important that you check your Department’s guidance, as the rules and procedure for each Department may differ. You will usually find this in your Handbook, or ask your Departmental Tutor.

What is an extenuating circumstance? 

UCL gives some examples of what they would consider to be Extenuating Circumstances in Annex - 4.1.1 - Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances. Extenuating Circumstances are not limited to these examples, and if you think you may have extenuating circumstances and are not sure whether they would be considered you can get advice from the Advice Service.

  • Bereavement: Bereavement for a child, sibling, parent, spouse or partner. 
  • Shorter-term medical conditions: Serious personal injury, medical condition or mental health condition.
  • Longer-term medical conditions: Serious worsening or acute episode of an ongoing disability, medical condition or mental health condition, Mental health crises. 
  • Victim of violent crime (e.g. assault, mugging, sexual assault, rape), Theft of work required for assessment.

The Examinations Office will already be informed about any special assessment arrangements, reasonable adjustments and if any incidents happened in the Exam Venue that might have affected an individual or the whole group of students sitting an exam.

How does the procedure work?

You must be given information about the Extenuating Circumstances procedure in your department. This will usually be in your student handbook. The instructions must be clear, and you should be given this at the beginning of the year, and in advance of your assessment periods.
If you have not received this information, you don’t know where to find it, or you don’t understand it you need to contact your department as soon as possible, or talk to an Adviser.

There will be a designated person in your department/division who is responsible for dealing with extenuating circumstances, it is usually your Departmental Tutor, who should be listed on your Faculty webpages.

You need to ensure that your submission for extenuating circumstances is made at the time of your circumstances, or immediately after they arise. The submission must be made within one week of the circumstance happening. If you have a good reason, which can be evidenced, as to why you were unable to submit your extenuating circumstances form on time then this will be taken into consideration and your request may still be accepted. For example, the extenuating circumstance may still be ongoing. This needs to have made it impossible for you to have submitted the extenuating circumstances request on time, and would not usually include minor illness, or being on holiday.

UCL has an extenuating circumstances form  which you will need to complete, and you will need to submit this alongside the relevant evidence. Details of where to submit the form are in your student handbook. If you have any questions about completing the form our advisers can help you.


What evidence will I need?

You must provide documentary evidence for your circumstances in all cases where this is possible.What evidence will I need?

UCL has put together some guidance on medical evidence, which is helpful when you are considering what you will need to provide.

Evidence should be from the appropriate independent authority (doctor, police officer, court officer etc.) and must either be on the extenuating circumstances form or provided on headed paper.
 

Short term illness / injury / hospitalisation: Medical Certificate or letter from your Doctor. This must be specific, it cannot just say that you were ill, or that you told your doctor you had been ill.

The evidence must have (if applicable to your situation):

  • Name of the health condition or impairment
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Period of time that you have been seeing the practitioner for this condition / impairment
  • Length of time that the practitioner expects the condition / impairment to last
  • Main symptoms of this condition which could impact on studies (e.g. mobility impairment, loss of concentration) and living in a university environment
  • Current treatment and / or medication being undertaken
  • Side effects of any treatments or medication

Minor illnesses such as colds, sore throats, headaches, digestive problems would not normally be accepted as grounds for extenuating circumstances.

Illness of a dependent or relative: Medical certificate or doctor’s letter, as above. You will need to explain on your submission why you were required to provide support to this person, and that there was nobody else available to provide support. If the illness of your relative has had a direct effect on you, such as an impact on your own health or mental wellbeing, you will also need to provide the appropriate medical evidence verifying the impact this has had on you too.

The evidence must be a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered doctor verifying the illness.

Bereavment: You will be required to provide a Death Certificate. UCL appreciates that Death Certificates are often difficult to obtain; however, they will need to see this so that they can prevent fraudulent claims. Where the deceased person is a close relative - partner, parent, child or sibling - then the Death Certificate alone will be sufficient.

If you have been affected by a death of someone other than one of the specified relatives, you will need to clarify your relationship to the deceased and the impact this has had upon you. If you are able to obtain a letter from a doctor or other registered medical practitioner to confirm this impact this may help your case.

The evidence can include:

  • A Death Certificate.
  • An official copy of a Death Certificate.
  • A letter from your doctor.
  • A Coroner’s Report.

Personal/emotional problems and trauma: This may include separation from spouse/partner, conflict with others, relationship breakdown with parents or guardians.

You must provide a statement that must verify how you have been affected and what impact this has had upon your assessment, and the dates when these circumstances occurred and continued to.

Examination stress is a common experience and not usually considered an extenuating circumstance. However, this may be accepted if there has been an acute flare up of a mental health or medical condition, related to exam stress, which can be documented with evidence from a doctor or other registered medical practitioner.

Evidence

  • Signed statement from a registered doctor or other medical practitioner in UCL Student Services OR external to the University.

Disability and long term illness
Disability, including ongoing, long term illness and recurring and diagnosed mental illness, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, would not usually be considered under the Extenuating Circumstances procedure, with the exception where there has been a particular worsening, serious episode or mental health crisis and documentary evidence can be provided. There can also be an exception where it is a new condition or there has not been time to put reasonable adjustments in place. They will not normally be considered because where you have disclosed a disability your department should already have put into place Reasonable Adjustments to support your studies, and it is only where there has been additional unexpected disruption to your studies that extenuating circumstances would be considered.

We would encourage you to disclose disability and mental illness to UCL, with the support of UCL’s Student Disability Services  or Student Psychological Services , to ensure that UCL makes the required reasonable adjustments throughout your studies, and that you are supported when you need it.

UCL has a legal duty to ensure that you are not treated any less favourably, and that you have fair access to your education and all of UCL’s services and support.

Victim of crime : Police/crime report - a crime number alone is not acceptable.

In some circumstances as a victim of crime you may not have contacted the Police, and this is accepted by UCL. In these circumstances you will need to provide a letter from a doctor or other registered medical professional stating the impact this event had on you.

Evidence:

  • Police/crime report (a crime number on its own is not acceptable).
  • Letter or certificate from a doctor or other registered medical professional external to the University.

University computer problems or academic problems: UCL do not consider general computer problems to be extenuating circumstances, they expect you to have some contingency plans to deal with computer problems! They won’t usually accept things such as viruses, disk corruption, printer problems etc. However, they will consider your circumstances if there is a significant failure of the University network systems or serious problems with academic project work such as equipment failure.

Other serious circumstances: This list of circumstances is not exhaustive, there might be other circumstances that could affect you that are not listed here. You can get advice on your circumstances from your Departmental Tutor, and the Advice Service.

Other serious circumstances can include: serious financial or housing problems which prevented you from studying, major incidents and pregnancy and maternity related issues.

What happens as a result of submitting extenuating circumstances?

A Programme Leader (or equivalent), Departmental Tutor or Exam Board Chair may approve a coursework extension of up to one week. In this case, the outcome of the request and any extension granted should be communicated to the student in writing as soon as possible.

The following outcomes must be approved by an extenuating circumstances panel (EC Panel):

A) A coursework extension of more than one week

b) Condoned late submission of coursework

c) An alternative method of assessment (approved by the External Examiner)

d) Deferral of assessment to the next occasion

e) Exclusion of the affected component/ module from completion, progression, award or classification decisions, up to a maximum of 30 credits in each year of study.

There are Faculty EC Panels and Departmental EC Panels. They consider whether the circumstances submitted to them are valid extenuating circumstances and what action should be taken for those circumstances.

The EC Panels are made up of the following staff:

The Faculty EC Panels should be chaired by the Faculty Tutor. In addition to the Chair and Deputy Chair, the panel must include at least two members of senior Faculty staff such as Faculty Graduate Tutors, Programme Leaders, Departmental Tutors etc.The secretary should be a named member of staff from the Faculty administration team.

The Departmental EC Panel should be chaired by the Head of Department or the Departmental Tutor. In addition to the Chair and Deputy Chair, the panel must include at least two members of senior Departmental staff such as Programme Leaders, Departmental Tutors etc.The secretary should be a named member of staff from the Departmental administration team.

The EC Panels are responsible for making recommendations to the Programme Board of Examiners, so the board of examiners can then recalculate any marks, confirm whether a student can progress/graduate etc. They are also responsible for informing other relevant areas of UCL, such as student records and other teaching departments.

Students should be notified of the EC Panels decision on any action to be taken within one week of the EC panel meeting. Confirmation of any new results or assessment dates should be communicated by the relevant departments.

Extenuating circumstances appeals

​Students cannot contest the outcome of an EC request on the grounds of academic judgement. However if the student feels that there has been a procedural error in the handling of their request, or that the type of mitigation offered is unsuitable, the student may request that EC Panel reviews their decision.Requests for review must be submitted within two weeks of the extension or mitigation decision. Student handbooks/ Moodle should include clear details of where to submit extenuating circumstances requests; requests for review should be submitted to the same office. 

The student should get a decision notified to them within one week of submitting the request for review. If the student is still unhappy after a review, they may still be able to appeal using the Student Complaint Procedure.

Extensions

You can request an extension to a deadline for assessed coursework where you may be affected by an extenuating circumstance. This is done by following the usual extenuating circumstances procedure.

Interruption of study

If your circumstances are ongoing and you feel they are having a significant detrimental affect on your studies, such as you feel you would like to take a temporary break, you can interrupt your studies. You can find more information about this on the UCL website . We would strongly recommend that you get an appointment with one of our advisers to discuss this and we can advise you on the other impacts this may have on things such as your fees and finances and your housing.
In all cases of interruption of study you will need to attend an appointment with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to ensure that you have support.