Policy on Extenuating Circumstances Affecting Assessment
The University recognises that students’ study and preparation for assessment may on occasion be affected by a range of factors, including extenuating circumstances, and that students may on occasion be unable to complete assessments.
The following policy has twin aims: to ensure that students with valid claims of extenuating circumstances are treated fairly and consistently; and to protect the standard of the University’s awards.
This policy applies to all students of the University pursuing taught programmes or the training element of research degrees and allows for the consideration of extenuating circumstances relating to all taught assessments.
The University’s Policy on Extenuating Circumstances is based on the following principles:
i) The object of any assessment is to measure achievement, not potential (i.e. what a student has done, not what they might have the potential to do).
ii) Each student has individual responsibility for submitting coursework on time, for presenting him/herself for scheduled assessments (to include written examinations, demonstrations, presentations and practical or lab-based examinations) at the appropriate time and place, and for informing the academic College/School of any extenuating circumstances by submitting information and documentation on such circumstances.
It is the student’s responsibility to declare any circumstances in a timely manner (normally BEFORE the coursework deadline/examination) to allow the University an opportunity to respond appropriately to those circumstances.
iii) Academic Colleges/School will give serious consideration to ways to assist students to overcome circumstances which might adversely affect assessments.
iv) The University will respond in a fair and equitable way to any extenuating circumstance which cannot adequately be resolved prior to the assessment in question.
vi) Extenuating circumstances will not be considered as grounds for adjusting marks awarded for assessments already completed.
Extenuating Circumstances are defined as serious and acute problems or events which are beyond a student’s control or ability to foresee which may have affected a student’s performance and/or may have impeded a student’s ability to attend, complete, or submit an assessment on time.
The only pertinent extenuating circumstances are those that cast doubt on the validity of the assessment as a measure of achievement.
Disability/long-term health conditions (including those associated with well-being/mental health) should be supported by the Disability Office or Wellbeing Services, in consultation with the College/School and student (see Guidelines for Colleges/Schools for dealing with students with extenuating circumstances and/or specific requirements).
3.1.1 The following is a non-exhaustive list of circumstances unlikely to be accepted by the University as valid extenuating circumstances:
• Minor illness or ailment (which in a work situation would be unlikely to lead to absence from work) affecting the student’s preparatory work for an assessment. Examples could include colds, headaches, minor accidents or injuries.
• Financial problems, including the effect of paid employment.
• Long-term ill-health, specific requirements, disabilities which have been disclosed and assessed by the University.
• Poor time-management.
• Social obligations and similar avoidable commitments such as: holidays, weddings, parties, routine medical appointments.
• Avoidable study-related factors such as deadline congestion or lost notes.
3.1.2 The following is a non-exhaustive list of circumstances which the University would commonly regard as extenuating circumstances which might affect performance:
• Serious illness, accident or well-being issue that is incapacitating or an unexpected deterioration in a long-term condition. Students are permitted to self-certify on medical grounds (including mental health/wellbeing) for a period of up to seven calendar days. If a student has an illness or injury (non-Covid related) that requires a longer period of recovery, they are required to seek medical evidence from their doctor, health centre or hospital.
• Minor illness or ailment affecting the student on the day of or immediately preceding an examination. Examples could include minor accidents or injuries, examination anxiety and stress. Students are permitted to self-certify on medical grounds (including mental health/wellbeing) for a period of up to seven calendar days. If a student has an illness or injury (non-Covid related) that requires a longer period of recovery, they are required to seek medical evidence from their doctor, health centre or hospital.
• Death or serious illness of a close relative or friend. Supporting independent evidence must normally be provided .
• Significant adverse personal/family circumstances – such as divorce, burglary, fire, major court proceedings, financial difficulties beyond the control of the student. Supporting independent evidence must normally be provided.
• Other significant exceptional factors which have had a significant impact on the student. Supporting independent evidence must normally be provided.
• Part time block-release or distance-learning students only – unforeseen significant changes in pattern of employment. Supporting independent evidence should normally be provided.
• Failure of IT Equipment where there is a verifiable failure (supported by compelling evidence) which affects a system or systems, and which limits the student’s opportunity to submit including, but not limited to:
• Failure of remote invigilation software
• Unplanned localised Wi-Fi outage
• Unplanned downtime of the Digital Learning Platform (or elements of)
Evidence may take the form of screenshots or service interruptions, errors, network provider page or communications outlining the disruption, including social media posts and emails from providers or monitoring systems.
Students must still, however, ensure they keep a back-up of their work and be prepared to submit by the deadline published, allowing contingency time for any last minute technical problems, and ensuring they notify the relevant member(s) of staff about the issue as soon as possible.
• Any other difficulties arising from remote working
• Caring responsibilities or domestic difficulties that impact on a student’s ability to prepare for or undertake assessments due to circumstances arising from the global pandemic
• A period of quarantine/self-isolation which affects a student’s ability to complete assessments. A student may self-certify for up to ten calendar days by completing the School/College application form. If the student is quarantining in University accommodation, the School/College may ask for additional evidence in the form of a copy of the quarantine booking. If self-isolating, students may be asked to provide additional evidence in the form of copies of emails sent to the School/College/University informing them of the period of self-isolation.
3.2 Where independent documentation to substantiate any extenuating circumstances claim is required (as per the circumstances outlined above in section
If the student is in about doubt as to whether supporting independent evidence is required they should speak to their College/School for clarification), such evidence must be dated to within a month of the affected assessment/exam, must indicate how the circumstances affected a student’s performance and/or may have impeded a student’s ability to attend, complete, or submit an assessment on time. The absence of such documentation will result in the application being rejected unless the student can provide a satisfactory explanation in their application as to why they have been unable to provide such evidence.
The University recognises that it will be difficult for some students to obtain evidence in the current climate and will consider applications sympathetically.
3.2.1 The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of appropriate evidence:
• A student may self-certify on medical grounds (including mental health/wellbeing) for up to seven calendar days.
• In those cases in which a student has been absent for more than seven calendar days on non-Covid medical grounds (including mental health/wellbeing), a Doctor*/Health Professional’s letter/certificate which confirms the illness, indicates the likely impact of the illness and clearly identifies that the time period of illness corresponds to the assessment period in which the claim is being made. (* Doctor should be GMC registered or have equivalent standing. Where the doctor is not GMC registered or does not have equivalent standing, further evidence may be requested, as appropriate).
• In the case of students with fluctuating health conditions/disabilities that have been approved by Disability/Wellbeing the adjustment proforma shall be taken as evidence.
• In the case of a student taken ill during an on-site University invigilated examination, a copy of the invigilator’s report. A student who is taken ill during an on-site examination must inform the invigilator either during or immediately after the examination and before leaving the examination venue. A record of this will be made by the invigilator which the student can subsequently access from the Examinations Office. In such a case, the invigilator’s report may be used to support a claim for a deferral
• Hospital admission and discharge letter, to confirm time spent in hospital (in those cases in which a student has been absent on non-Covid medical grounds for more than seven calendar days).
• A letter of support/explanation from a support service in the University, e.g. Disability Service, Wellbeing Service etc. (provided at the discretion of the support service)
• Death certificate / Order of Service / Funeral Director's Letter
• Police report, a crime reference number on its own will not be sufficient
• News report to confirm unforeseen transport difficulties
3.2.2 The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of evidence which are not normally accepted:
• Medical condition over seven calendar days supported by retrospective evidence
• Evidence in a language other than English/Welsh which is not accompanied by a certified translation
• Crime reference number without a supplementary Police report
• Screenshots from mobile devices showing restricted information
• Illegible evidence i.e. faded wording, cropped, missing information, undated, poorly scanned evidence
It is the policy of Swansea University to adopt a presumption that a student who undertakes assessment is fit to do so. The marks awarded will be an accurate reflection of performance and will not be altered subsequently on the basis of extenuating circumstances. A student who is unable to undertake an assessment because of extenuating circumstances may (subject to the provision of appropriate evidence) be given a further opportunity to undertake the assessment potentially as an uncapped opportunity.
A student who attends and/or completes an assessment and does not submit claims for extenuating circumstances within 5 working days of the assessment or by the deadline set by the College/School responsible for delivering the module concerned, shall be deemed to confirm:
• that there are no reasons why they should not undertake the assessment at that time;
• that they will not subsequently submit a request for a concession in respect of extenuating circumstances; and
• that any requests for ‘reasonable adjustments’ in light of a disability, health condition, wellbeing or mental health issue or other specific requirements have already been submitted to the University.
A student who undertakes assessment knowing that they have been affected by extenuating circumstances will not normally be able successfully to submit a claim at a later date. Only in cases where the evidence submitted supports the notion that the student was unable to determine whether or not they were fit to undertake the assessment and/or had a good reason for not notifying the School/College of the circumstances, will the University accept claims for extenuating circumstances submitted beyond the deadline. Such claims should be submitted via the home College/School and will be managed by the Academic Appeals Procedure. The School/College will be asked to provide comment on such cases.
In the case of disruptions to or problems with an examination affecting a group of students, the College/School Special Circumstances Committee or appropriate Committee may recommend appropriate action.
Appeals against decisions taken by College/School Special Circumstances Committees (or other appropriate Committee) or the University’s Academic Regulations and Cases Board (or Board nominees) in relation to extenuating circumstances shall not normally be considered.
The consideration of extenuating circumstances applications relating to taught assessment (on-site/remote examinations and/or coursework) will be undertaken by the College/Schools responsible for delivering the module to which the affected assessment contributes. In taking decisions, Colleges/Schools will be guided by principles 2, 3 and 4 contained in this policy. College/School procedures for considering extenuating circumstances affecting assessment will be published by the College/Schools. The procedures will include deadlines for the submitting of extenuating circumstances, the procedures and timeframe for the College/School consideration of any submissions and notification of the outcomes to students.
Students are required to complete the appropriate extenuating circumstances form provided by the College/School and to submit the completed form, along with the appropriate supporting independent evidence (where required) by the deadline prescribed by the School/College.
5.1 Coursework Applications
The College/School Special Circumstances Committee or appropriate Committee will determine one of the following:
• a valid claim has been made and agree upon one of the following options:
• award an extension to the submission deadline (applicable to coursework)
• waive a late penalty
• offer a further attempt (uncapped or capped, as appropriate) at the next appropriate assessment point (applicable to coursework and remote examinations)
Where none of the above courses of action is appropriate due to the nature of the assessment, the College/School Special Circumstances Committee or appropriate Committee may:
• allow a small element of coursework or in-year assessment to be disregarded, with the final mark(s) being recalculated from the remaining elements of coursework or in-year assessment; or
• accommodate those situations where one component of the module is missing by allowing for the final mark(s) to be recalculated from the remaining module component(s); or
• recommend to the Examining Board some other action to be undertaken
• conclude that there are no or insufficient grounds for the student’s claim.
Extenuating circumstances affecting the submission of the directed independent learning, for taught master’s students, are dealt with through separate procedures.
5.2 On-site/Remote Examinations
A student with a temporary impairment which might make participating in an on-site examination difficult should contact his/her Academic Mentor or the appropriate Examinations Officer and the University’s Examinations Office in Academic Services as it may be appropriate for special arrangements to be put in place to enable the student to participate in the examination. This may include allowing the student to take the assessment in a smaller room, use of an amanuensis (scribe), use of a computer, or other appropriate adjustments.
In cases where such special arrangements are inappropriate, the extenuating circumstances policy should be used instead.
If the College/School accepts the extenuating circumstances as valid in relation to the on-site/remote examination, a further opportunity at the examination will be offered at the next appropriate assessment point (Semester One Assessment Period, the main Semester Two assessment period or Supplementary Assessment Period for taught programmes). If the affected examination was a ‘first attempt’, the further opportunity granted will be considered an uncapped deferral’. If the affected examination was a re-sit, the deferred opportunity will be regarded as a re-sit and the mark awarded will be capped (if capping applies). If the student attempted the examination in question prior to being granted a deferral, no mark will be awarded for the original attempt.
5.3 Declined Applications
If the School/College declines an extenuating circumstances application in relation to an examination or coursework (in accordance with the procedures outlined in 5.1 and 5.2), the following action will be taken:
• if the assessment was not attempted, a mark of 0% (unauthorised absence) will be recorded for the assessment and the overall outcome for the student will be determined in accordance with the assessment regulations for the programme of study;
if the assessment has been attempted, the submitted work will be marked, a mark recorded and the overall outcome for the student will be determined in accordance with the assessment regulations for the programme of study.
5.4 Extenuating circumstances affecting the Supplementary Assessment Period
There is no further opportunity to undertake assessments between the Supplementary Assessment period and the beginning of the next academic year.
Therefore a supplementary examination opportunity cannot be deferred. Where a student is affected by extenuating circumstances during the supplementary assessment period, they should inform their home College/School of the extenuating circumstances:
in advance of the assessment date;
within 5 working days of the assessment taking place/by the deadline prescribed by the School/College
The information must be provided in writing using the prescribed form and should be accompanied by supporting independent documentary evidence, where appropriate (as outlined in section 3.1.
If the student is in about doubt as to whether supporting independent evidence is required, they should speak to their College/School for clarification). The University will consider applications sympathetically. The student should submit the prescribed form within the time-limits set out above even if some/all of the supporting evidence (where required) is not available within the time-limit. Any supporting evidence (where required) must be provided as soon as possible thereafter.
If the prescribed form is received by the School/College without all required supporting evidence/a satisfactory explanation as to why the student has been unable to provide independent supporting evidence, the School/College will communicate a reasonable deadline (having regard to the Progression and Awards Board at which the student’s results will be considered) to the student via their student e-mail account for provision of evidence. If this deadline for the provision of all supporting evidence is not met the application will be considered (on the basis of the information provided within the application and any evidence provided with the application when submitted) and may be rejected.
Colleges/Schools will consider extenuating circumstances affecting August supplementary assessments and determine whether the extenuating circumstance application is valid or not.
If the School/College determines that the application is valid, the School/College may submit a recommendation to the University Progression or Awards Board for consideration in light of the student’s overall performance. For example, a student may be given a further opportunity to repeat the failed module(s) uncapped the following session in light of extenuating circumstances. However students will not be able to progress to the next level/part of study/qualify for an award because of submitted extenuating circumstances if they have not satisfied the minimum progression or award criteria.
In all cases, the normal progression or award regulations will apply.
5.5 The College, Swansea University – Deferral decisions
Decision on deferral for Students of The College, Swansea University will be made by the Special Circumstances Committee of The College, Swansea University.
A decision taken by College/School Special Circumstances Committees (or other appropriate Committee) or the University Academic Regulations and Cases Board (or Board nominee) in relation to extenuating circumstances shall be forwarded to the appropriate Examining Board as a recommendation.
The Examining Board shall consider any recommendation with reference to a student’s overall academic profile and the assessment regulations. Normally the application of the assessment regulations shall take precedence.