Exceptional Circumstances

In this Section

EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

 

If you are experiencing exceptional circumstances beyond your normal control that will affect your ability to study and/or complete assessments you may wish to submit an exceptional circumstances form to make the University aware your circumstances will affect your assessments.

 

What are Exceptional Circumstances?

Exceptional Circumstances are circumstances which cause the student to:

  1. perform less well in coursework than might have been expected on the basis of other work,
  2. fail to meet submission deadlines,
  3. fail to attend a timed assessment or examination, and/or
  4. be adversely affected by an incident or issue occurring during an examination.

In general, exceptional circumstances can be short-term circumstances of a health related or personal nature significantly affecting a student at the time of an assessment or a period of time relevant (close) to the assessment, which can normally be supported by independent evidence.

Long-term or ongoing health conditions are only usually considered if there has been an unexpected worsening at the time of the assessments in question. This is because there are other processes for supporting students with disabilities, long-term and ongoing health conditions which can be discussed with the Enabling Team (Student Hub).

 

What happens if I can’t meet the deadline for my coursework?

Students incur a penalty by losing 10% of the marks awarded for each day or part of a day the coursework is late. A piece of work which is marked at 60% but submitted 2 days late will be awarded a final mark of 48% (12 mark penalty).

Students may self-certify an extension of up to five working days for a single coursework assessment submission per Stage, without making an exceptional circumstances submission to an ECAP. Students with Support Recommendations assessed through the University’s Enabling Team may self-certify an extension of up to five working days for up to two coursework assessment submissions per Stage”.

Therefore, if you have not already received a self-certified extension of up to 5 days in your current academic year (stage) you may wish to contact your Programme Director and School to discuss this option further.

If you have already received a self-certified extension or feel that up to five days would not be sufficient you will need to complete and submit an EC form to your School. More information on submitting an EC can be found below.

 

What should I do before deciding to complete an EC form?

  1. Read the University’s Guide to Exceptional Circumstances to check whether you are likely to meet the criteria and what evidence is usually required.
  2. Understand the University’s Fit to Sit Policy means that if you attend an examination or other fixed time assessment, you will be considered to have declared yourself ‘Fit to Sit’ the assessment and made a valid attempt at the assessment, subject to consideration of factors affecting performance which may arise subsequent to beginning the assessment. This means if you sit an exam any mark you gain is likely to stand even if you submitted an EC form. Therefore you need to decide whether you are well enough to sit the exam or not. This includes whether you were or will be well enough to sufficiently revise and prepare for the assessment. If you are unable or not well enough to attend an exam you should inform your School as soon as possible and complete an EC form.

 

How do I Complete an EC form?

If you wish to complete an EC form, one can be downloaded from this webpage on the University’s Exceptional Circumstances website. The University’s Guide to Exceptional Circumstances provides detailed guidance on what circumstances are likely to meet, completing the EC form and the evidence required. Page 3 of the EC form also explains how to complete each section of the form.  

In summary, you will need to explain how your circumstances are exceptional, the significant impact on you and your academic work and also the time period you been or are likely to be affected which must be relevant to the dates of the assessment. Try to provide as much detail as possible about how your circumstances have been affecting you. It may help to think about how your ability to study, prepare and complete your assessment(s) have been affected. Your circumstances must be relevant to the time period of the assessments. In order to support your application you will also need to provide evidence that confirms your circumstances.

 

What Evidence Do I Need?

You also need to provide evidence of your exceptional circumstances that must confirm your circumstances, how they affected you and your studies and it should also include the period of time you were affected. The University’s Guide to Exceptional Circumstances provides detailed guidance on what circumstances are likely to meet the completing the EC form and the evidence required. 

 

 

Circumstance

Supporting documentation

Illness which prevented you from attending an exam/ assessment or occurred after the start of an examination or assessment

Letter/certificate from a health professional/counsellor confirming any health circumstances, the impact on your studies and the period of time you have been or will be affected.

 

Hospital appointment letters, a copy of prescription or medicine labelling may also be considered.

 

If your illness is a self-limited, common ailment not requiring medical attention, you should be aware that this will not normally qualify as an Exceptional Circumstance warranting an extension for written assignments. If such an illness affects your attendance at an examination, oral assessment or other form of test, you should inform your School as soon as possible and seek their guidance on how best to provide the necessary evidence. Please also see the paragraph on weighting of evidence in The University’s Guide to Exceptional Circumstances.

 

Illness which prevented you from completing an assessment (coursework) on time – see section on late submission

Letter/certificate from a health professional/counsellor confirming any health circumstances, the impact on your studies and the period of time you have been or will be affected.

 

Hospital appointment letters, a copy of prescription or medicine labelling may also be considered.

Unforeseen major travel disruption which caused

you to be late/miss an exam

Letter from transport company.

Legal matters

Letter/documents from court/solicitor.

Personal/domestic problems which occurred in the period leading up to an examination/assessment deadline

Letter from someone who has direct knowledge of the problems and/or has been involved in supporting you (e.g. religious leader, student finance advisor, employer, chaplaincy, Student Services Adviser, an adviser from the Union’s Advice & Representation Centre).

Bereavement

Death certificates; supporting evidence of effect of bereavement from

parent/guardian, doctor or counsellor.

Jury Service

Official letter from the court requesting

your attendance.

 

For long term issues, such as on-going health/personal/financial issues, which affect your ability to study or your ability to perform generally, would not usually be accepted as exceptional circumstances by the University

EC forms would not usually be accepted for students with long-term chronic long term health conditions, disabilities or learning differences unless there was evidence of a sudden, unexpected temporary flare up or worsening of the condition. This is because there is support for students with significant ongoing long term health conditions or disabilities which affect their studies that can be accessed through the University’s services such as the Enabling Team who can potentially arrange for support such as reasonable adjustments for study and assessments to be put in place.

If you will not be able to obtain the evidence before the deadline for submitting the EC form, you must still submit the EC on time and let your School know the evidence will be provided later.

 

When is the Deadline for Submitting an EC form?

Deadlines for each School are listed on the University’s Exceptional Circumstances webpage. If you are unsure you should contact your School as soon as possible for this information.

If you will not be able to obtain the evidence before the deadline for submitting the EC form, you must still submit the EC on time and let your School know the evidence will be provided later. However, please note that EC forms and evidence for exceptional circumstances will not usually be accepted after the published deadlines unless you can provide good reason why you were not able to submit them earlier.

 

Where do I submit the EC form?

The email addresses for each School are listed on the University’s Exceptional Circumstances webpage. You will need to scroll down the page until you find your School who will have listed an email address for you to send your EC form along with your supporting evidence.

 

What happens after I submit the form?

The Exam Board, or more often, the Exceptional Circumstances or Absence Panel (ECAP), will recommend whether your claim of exceptional circumstances meets University regulations or not.

 

Who can I talk to at University if I am experiencing difficulties?

There are a range of people available to discuss any problems affecting you and your studies:

  • SU Advice & Representation Centre (ARC) (That’s us!) – Confidential advice service, we provide advice on the options available and provide advice on submitting an Exceptional Circumstances form (EC form).
  • Personal Tutors/Advisors/Programme Directors (In your School). If your School are aware they can potentially provide support including allowing you a break from your studies until the issue is resolved
  • The Student Hub provide advice on various issues which includes student finance, fees, funding and visas. You can also access other University services such as: 
    • Counselling and Mental Wellbeing Service - Qualified counsellors/psychotherapy/mental health practitioners supporting students with a wide range of issues including anxiety, academic stress, low mood and depression, relationship difficulties, and bereavement. 
    • Enabling Team - Provide support and guidance for students with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
  • Residence Tutors (Aston Student Village) – Provide pastoral care and welfare support for their residents
  • Chaplains (MLK Multi-faith Centre) - Offer pastoral and spiritual guidance, prayer, support and friendship
  • Nightline: (Out of hours service) – Confidential listening and information service run by students for students

 

How we can help

  1. We can explain the EC process and help you understand if you are likely to meet the EC criteria
  2. We can help you to understand the University’s Fit to Sit policy
  3. We can provide feedback on your EC form before you submit it
  4. We can provide advice on the evidence required to support your EC application
  5. We can discuss your options if you are unhappy with the outcome of your EC application

More information on the Exceptional Circumstances can be found in the in The University’s Guide to Exceptional Circumstances and on the University’s Exceptional Circumstances webpage.