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Extenuating Circumstances

During your studies you might experience personal circumstances such as illness or bereavement, which may disrupt your ability to study or affect your performance in an assessment or an examination. These are referred to as extenuating circumstances and should be reported to your Academic School as soon as they arise and before the School deadline.

What are extenuating circumstances?

The University defines extenuating circumstances as circumstances which:

  • have prevented you from performing at your usual level in an assessment or examination
  • are severe and exceptional
  • are unforeseen or unavoidable
  • occur close in time to the affected assessment or examination.

What circumstances are likely to be accepted?

These circumstances are likely to be accepted if suitable evidence is provided, however this is not a complete list:

  • serious short-term illness or accident
  • bereavement - for example the death of a close relative or friend, partner or significant other
  • evidence of a long-term health condition worsening or a change in symptoms
  • significant adverse personal/family circumstances
  • being a victim of a serious crime
  • disability or impairment where it has not been possible to put required adjustments in place

Please note: the University will always consider other extenuating circumstances where you can show significant impact on your performance in assessments.

What circumstances are unlikely to be accepted?

These are examples of circumstances which the University say are less likely to be accepted in isolation. This list is not exhaustive:

  • statement of a medical condition without reasonable evidence (medical or otherwise) to support it
  • medical circumstances that occur outside the relevant assessment or learning period for which appropriate adjustments have already been made (e.g. extensions, specific provision)
  • minor illnesses or ailments which should not reasonably disrupt your ability to work
  • long-term health conditions for which the student is already receiving reasonable and appropriate adjustments to assessments
  • some computer, printing or other IT-related problems
  • poor time management
  • holidays, weddings or other family-related events
  • paid employment
  • attendance at, or participation in, sporting, musical or other events
  • where there is a reasonable case that the circumstances reported were foreseeable or preventable.

Please note: if your circumstances appear in this list but you feel they have seriously affected your academic performance then you should still report them to your School.

How do I report extentuating circumstances?

You must report any extenuating circumstances at the earliest opportunity and before any school deadline or exam. Ensure you continue to work to the original assessment deadline until you have been granted an extension. Each Academic School sets deadlines for reporting extenuating circumstances, please contact your school office for information about their deadlines.

1. Download and complete the extenuating circumstances form.

You must fully complete the extenuating circumstances form including:

  • details and dates of the extenuating circumstances
  • how the circumstances have affected your performance
  • the assessments and/or examinations which have been affected (including module codes)
  • evidence which supports your circumstances

All extenuating circumstances information will be dealt with confidentially, ensuring that only staff directly involved in the 2. Provide written evidence which supports your circumstances.

Examples of commonly accepted forms of evidence:

  • doctor's letter which confirms illness and the period it affected you
  • photocopy of a death certificate
  • letter of support/explanation from a support service at the University i.e. the Disability and Dyslexia Service or Counselling
  • letter of support/explanation from a third party (such as a police report, local authority report or counsellor's letter, etc)

Examples of evidence which are unlikely to be accepted:

  • evidence of a medical condition for which the doctor did not see/diagnose
  • a letter from a parent, partner or family member verifying circumstances where there is no other independent supporting evidence

Your School may ask for more evidence to support or clarify your case. If you do not have the evidence, you must report your circumstances and include on the form when you will be able to provide the evidence.

3. Send the documents to your School Office before any set deadlines.

You must report your extenuating circumstances to your School Office as soon as they arise and before the School deadline. You should create a copy of the form and evidence for your personal record. 

Ensure you obtain proof that your forms have been received by the School:

  • in person -  hand the documents to your School Office, requesting a stamp to confirm delivery.
  • by post - send the documents via recorded post, keeping a receipt of postage for your records.
  • by email - attach documents to an email an send to School Office email address
    • forms sent from a valid Cardiff University student account or email address registered on SIMS do not require a signature.
    • forms sent from other email accounts must show a signed form which has been scanned.

After you have completed the relevant procedure and if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision on your appeal then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

What if I submit extenuating circumstances late?

If you wait until you get your results before reporting extenuating circumstances it may be too late. If you are unable to report your extenuating circumstances by the school deadline, you will need to submit an academic appeal once your results have been published.

Appeals must be submitted within ten days of your results letter on SIMS. You will need to explain why you did not report the extenuating circumstances before the deadline.

What happens after you submit your form?

Your Academic School will consider your form and evidence at an Extenuating Circumstances Group. The group is made up of a small number of staff and all personal information is handled sensitively and in confidence.

Each application will be considered on an individual basis against the extenuating circumstances criteria, taking into account:

  • the circumstances you have outlined
  • the supporting evidence you have provided
  • any specific programme or professional body requirements.

The group will make a decision to accept or reject your extenuating circumstances application and inform the Examining Board, who will then apply an appropriate remedy.

What remedies are available?

If your extenuating circumstances are accepted, the usual remedy is either:

  • a further attempt at your assessment if you failed
  • your module is eligible for discounting at the final classification stage if you pass your module

In exceptional circumstances where the Head of School believes that discounting affected modules (within the permitted limits) is an insufficient remedy, other remedies may also be available for final year students.

Some extenuating circumstances relate to Protected Characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010; in these cases other remedies may be available.

If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies over a long period of time then you should seek advice from Student Support about putting adjustments in place to help you study. You may also wish to take an interruption of study.

What if I am unhappy with the decision?

After you have completed the relevant procedure and if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision on your appeal then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

We should suggest speaking to an adviser in the Student Advice department before pursuing this option.

Do 'protected characteristics' change anything?

Usually when dealing with extenuating circumstances, the Examining Board may grant an extension or allow a resit of a failed assessment. 

However some students may have extenuating circumstances which specifically relate to one of the Protected Characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010. 

In this case the Board my exceptionally permit a student to resit a module that they have passed which has been affected by extenuating circumstances that explicitly link to a characteristic. 

Categories defined by the Equality Act

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex (gender)
  • Sexual orientation

If you believe you have extenuating circumstances that can be linked to a protected characteristic then you need to include this information when you report your extenuating circumstances by completing section 4b of the form. Where available you should provide evidence to demonstrate the link. 

The Extenuating Circumstances Group will not take this information into account if you do not complete this section of the form as they will not assume you fall within a protected characteristic.  

If you are unsure whether your circumstances would link to a protected characteristic, please seek advice from Student Advice.

All reports will be treated sensitively, in confidence, and will only be made available to School staff directly involved in considering extenuating circumstances. Once you have reported your extenuating circumstances they are considered by an Extenuating Circumstances Group. They will decide if you are eligible for an extension of an assessment deadline, or for a resit of an assessment. If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies over a long period of time then you may wish to take an interruption of study.

Last updated by Joshua Gibbs 12/01/2017

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Extenuating Circumstances Form

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