Annex 8

Guidance for Faculties on Classifying Extenuating Circumstances

All circumstances should be considered by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee (ECC).

In determining the classification of an extenuating circumstance, ECCs should consider whether the circumstance is:

An extenuating circumstance may relate to a student’s physical health, mental wellbeing and/or be of a circumstantial/ personal nature.

Consideration of students who develop mental health issues may be made with reference to the University’s Fitness to Study Policy.

Students should not use the extenuating circumstances (ECs) process as a mechanism for notifying or disclosing to the University, for the first time, any inherent difficulties or circumstances that are affecting them. Where students still use the ECs process to disclose a particular issue (e.g. a disability), a designated person in the school, (e.g. the relevant Senior Tutor), should follow the issue up with the student, providing advice and sign-posting them to support as necessary (e.g. to Disability Services).

Types of extenuating circumstance

A student may have or develop either a chronic circumstance or an acute impairment/episode. A student may also have a chronic condition, from which an acute episode is experienced.

Chronic: where the student develops or enrols with a particular ongoing circumstance that is experienced over a significant duration such that their learning as well as their performance in assessment is affected. In relevant cases, the University will accommodate the student by establishing and implementing a Disability Support Summary (e.g. extra time in examinations) in order to help them with their studies until they complete their programme. Where this is the case, the circumstance should not be considered by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee, unless there are further adverse developments, an additional new condition develops, or the condition is such that it could be expected to impact the student’s performance notwithstanding support and any reasonable adjustments that have been made.

Chronic cases may lead to a suspension of studies where the level of severity causes a sustained disruption on the programme.

Acute: where the student unexpectedly experiences a circumstance or event of a short duration and for a defined period of time, such that they are unable to attend or their performance in assessment is substantially affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Such cases may be able to be accommodated within the assessment process, for example, allowing the student more time to complete coursework and examinations. Retaking of the unit as a first attempt may also be considered appropriate.

Classifying an extenuating circumstance

As well as indicating the type of circumstance, an ECC should operate within four bands of classification: mild, moderate, serious and severe.

Mild

Circumstances that are perceived as having had a minimal effect on the assessment process. This classification would normally be reached if the circumstance:

Extenuating circumstances classified in this category normally relate to physical health and circumstantial events.

This classification would normally result in no change being made.

A typical example may include:

Moderate

Circumstances that are perceived as having had a moderate effect on the assessment process. This classification would normally be reached if the circumstance:

This classification acknowledges that the student’s performance in assessment was affected by the ECs and that appropriate action should be taken in mitigation.

Typical examples may include:

Serious

Circumstances that are perceived as having a serious effect on the assessment process. This classification would normally be reached if the circumstance:

This classification acknowledges that the student’s performance in assessment was affected by the ECs and that appropriate action should be taken in mitigation.

Typical examples may include:

Severe

Circumstances that are perceived as having a severe effect on the assessment process. This classification would normally be reached if the circumstance:

This classification acknowledges that the student’s performance in assessment was affected by the ECs and that appropriate action should be taken in mitigation.

Typical examples may include:

Note: the examples here are provided purely as a guide, since, by their nature, any one circumstance may range in its complexity and in its effects on an individual student. Each case should therefore be judged on its own merits.