Extenuating Circumstances

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					ECF procedures (effective Summer Term 2010) 

 




Extenuating Circumstances
University-wide procedures for consideration of extenuating
circumstances in relation to undergraduate and postgraduate taught
programmes
Effective date: Summer Term 2010


(References to Faculty Examiners’ Meetings should be understood to include the Examiners’ Meeting of
the Institute of Education.)



1.    Introduction
The University is committed to giving appropriate consideration to medical or personal
circumstances which may have adversely affected a student’s performance in
examinations and assessment.
The Senate has agreed the following provisions which are intended to improve the
procedures for consideration of extenuating circumstances:
(a)    Students who wish special circumstances to be taken into account in relation to
assessment are required to complete and submit a standard form for notification of
extenuating circumstances.
(b)    Information relating to medical and personal circumstances will be accorded a
high level of confidentiality and its disclosure strictly limited.



2.    Procedures for notification of special circumstances
(a) Students who wish circumstances to be drawn to the attention of the Examiners are
    required to complete the standard form for notification of extenuating
    circumstances on which they should provide details of the special circumstances
    which they believe have affected their performance. The form is available from
    School Offices, the Health Centre, the Counselling Service and from the University
    website, and should be submitted at the earliest opportunity to the School Office of
    the School responsible for the student’s degree programme. The form must be
    submitted by the deadline specified on the Examinations Office website at
    http://www.reading.ac.uk/exams/extcircsform09.htm.


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(b) It is the responsibility of the School to keep a record of each extenuating
    circumstance form returned to them by students registered in their School. The
    person responsible for dealing with Extenuating Circumstances within a School is
    the Senior Tutor, or his/her nominee as agreed by the Head of School.
(c) A standard extenuating circumstances form is available across the University and on
    the University website. The University principle is that the working of its
    extenuating circumstances procedures requires rapid and effective action on behalf
    of the Senior Tutor and close communication and collaboration with fellow School
    Senior Tutors.

(d) Students regularly take modules from outside their home School and may have an
    extenuating circumstance relating to such a module. However, in such cases the
    extenuating circumstances form should still be submitted to their home School, i.e,
    the one in which the student’s degree programme is based. In such cases, after
    recording the case, the “home school” Senior Tutor would then need to refer or
    discuss the case with the Senior Tutor and/or the module provider in the “module
    providing school” to agree an action and/or reach a decision. Students on joint
    programmes need to be made aware of which School is to be seen as their “home
    school” as far as extenuating circumstances are concerned.

(e) Students are required, where appropriate, to submit with the form relevant
    medical/counselling evidence (such as a doctor’s or counsellor’s note), except where
    they have consulted the University Medical Practice or the University Counselling
    Service.
(f)   Where a student has consulted the University Medical Practice or the University
      Counselling Service, he or she is required to specify on the standard form the
      doctor/counsellor consulted and the date of the medical consultation, and is asked to
      give consent for the Practice to disclose information to the nominated person(s) in
      the School who should normally be the Senior Tutor and for the information to be
      disclosed to the relevant Examiners and relevant officers of the University.
(g) Where the circumstances warrant it, the nominated person should then send a copy
    of the form to the University Medical Practice/Counselling Service and ask for a
    countersignature to confirm that there are no significant disparities between the
    account provided by the student and the medical/counselling record. The Medical
    Practice is concerned that its resources are used appropriately, and has therefore
    asked that confirmation of medical evidence is sought by Schools only in those cases
    where the circumstance is sufficiently serious to provide grounds for substantive
    action by the Special Cases Sub-Committee. Schools are therefore asked to indicate
    the nature of the action which would be recommended if the student’s account is
    confirmed. The School’s request should be signed by a member of academic staff
    who would normally be the School Senior Tutor. Schools should not seek
    confirmation of circumstances that are evident to all (e.g. a broken leg) or those



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      where the medical practice simply accepts the patient’s view (e.g. a cold or
      headache).
      Students should not be advised to attend the Medical Practice to seek
      confirmation of trivial complaints.


(h) When the form has been received from the student and, where appropriate, sent to
    and returned by the Medical Practice/Counselling Service, the form should be
    forwarded to the School Senior Tutor. Due regard should be given at all stages to
    safeguarding sensitive information.
(i)   It is the responsibility of students to submit the relevant forms in accordance with
      the University’s procedures (including submission by the relevant deadline) in
      relation to any circumstances which might have affected their performance. Where
      a form has not been submitted in accordance with the University’s procedures
      (including submission by the relevant deadline), the student’s circumstances will not
      normally be given substantive consideration, except where a student has been
      prevented from submitting a form by insurmountable circumstances (such as
      hospitalization, incarceration, or equivalent incapacity). Where a form has not been
      submitted in accordance with the University’s procedures, the student is required to
      provide an explanation for their non-compliance.
(j)   In addition to submitting the form, students are encouraged in the notes of guidance
      for the notification of extenuating circumstances form to discuss their circumstances
      with their Personal Tutor. Members of staff should remind students of this advice
      when the opportunity arises.
(k) Extenuating circumstances are treated in strictest confidence. Exceptionally, in a
    case where a student has highly sensitive circumstances which they are reluctant to
    disclose to staff within the School, the student may submit an extenuating
    circumstances form directly to the Sub-Dean of his or her Faculty. The fact that the
    student has submitted extenuating circumstances to the Sub-Dean will be disclosed
    to the School; the specific nature of the extenuating circumstances will not be
    disclosed to the School without the prior permission of the student.




3. Actions to be taken at the School level
In many cases the Extenuating Circumstance may be dealt with at School level taking
into account the information in the following sections. If however the case refers to a
substantive part of a student’s programme of study then the case should be referred. This
may be where a range of modules are affected or the circumstances have on-going
impacts which need wider consideration.




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The School, via the Senior Tutor or their delegate, has the power to make the following
decisions regarding extenuating circumstances.

a.   Reject on grounds of unconvincing evidence or that the request deals with an
     insubstantial event
b.   Request additional information from the student before a decision can be made
c.   Accept and provide extension to complete coursework
d.   Accept and remove penalties for late submission
e.   Following discussions with the module convenor, exempt students from a minor
     piece of coursework (contributing 10% or less of the credits for a module)*
f.   That no action is necessary at that stage other than to record as an EC submitted

The School, via the Senior Tutor or their delegate, also has the option to:

a.   Refer the extenuating circumstance to the Programme Examiners’ Special Cases
     meeting
b.   Refer the extenuating circumstance to Faculty Special Cases Sub Committee
c.   Refer for immediate suspension or other action requested by the student, following
     discussion with the appropriate Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning
d.   To take other action they deem necessary in relation to the Extenuating
     Circumstance if not covered by any of the above options.

*Senior Tutors should not make exemptions from coursework which means that when
taking into account similar exemptions within that academic year, the student has been
exempt from credits amounting to greater than 5% of total available credits in a given
year.



4.    Special Cases Sub-Committee
(a) Each Programme Examiners’ Meeting and Faculty Examiners’ Meeting should
    establish a Special Cases Sub-Committee. It is expected that Programme Examiners’
    Meetings, and therefore the Special Cases Sub-Committees, will normally be
    constituted to consider a number of programmes within a School.
(b) Programme Examiners’ Meeting Special Cases Sub-Committee
     The membership of the Programme Examiners’ Meeting Special Cases Sub-
     Committee will normally comprise:
            Chair of the Programme Examiners’ Meeting (in the Chair)
            Senior Tutor (or a nominee)
            Secretary of the Programme Examiners’ Meeting (who should be a member of
            academic staff)
            External Examiners


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       Other members may be appointed by the Programme Examiners’ Meeting, but the
       membership should remain small to restrict the disclosure of sensitive information.
       External Examiners, although members of the Sub-Committee, would not normally
       be expected to attend the meeting. The Chair of the Programme Examiners’
       Meeting would be responsible for providing the External Examiners with a full
       report on the cases considered and for consulting them on the recommendations.
(c) Faculty Examiners’ Meeting Special Cases Sub-Committee
       The membership of the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting Special Cases Sub-Committee
       will normally comprise:
          The Dean (in the Chair)
          Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning of the Faculty
          A Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning of another Faculty (alternate: a Sub-
          Dean from another Faculty)*
          Senior Tutor
          Sub-Dean
          University Examinations Officer
          Faculty External Examiner (in respect of Parts 1 and 2 only)
          University Medical Adviser.
       *The selection of the Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning of another Faculty is
       based upon availability.
       The Director of the University Counselling Service will have a standing invitation to
       meetings of the Faculty Examiners’ Special Cases Sub-Committees.
(d) The Sub-Committees’ terms of reference will be:
       To determine whether an extenuating circumstances form has been submitted in
       accordance with the University’s procedures and is admissible for substantive
       consideration.
       To consider medical and personal circumstances which have been referred by the
       School as possibly affecting a candidate’s performance in examinations, assessed
       coursework, or dissertations, and to advise the Examiners’ Meeting on how these
       circumstances should be taken into account in determining the student’s result.
    (e) The Programme and Faculty Examiners’ Meeting (and therefore their respective
        Special Cases Sub-Committees) will have responsibilities for Part Examinations, as
        follows:

       Undergraduate programmes
       Part 1                       Faculty Examiners’ Meeting
       Part 2                       Faculty Examiners’ Meeting


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       Part 3*                       Faculty Examiners’ Meeting
                 * in those cases where a programme specifies progression requirements to
                 proceed from Part 3 to Part 4
                 (While responsibility for Part 2 results and Part 3 results (in those cases where
                 a programme specifies progression requirements to proceed from Part 3 to
                 Part 4) resides with the Faculty Examiners, Programme Examiners are not
                 precluded from giving preliminary consideration to overall results for their
                 students at these Parts in order to advise the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting.)


       Finals                        Programme Examiners’ Meeting
       (recommended results to be submitted for approval to the Faculty Examiners’
       Meeting)


       Taught postgraduate programmes
       Programme Examiners’ Meeting
       (recommended results to be submitted for approval to the Faculty Examiners’
       Meeting)



5.       Procedures of the Programme Examiners’ Special Cases
         Sub-Committee
(a) The Sub-Committee is required to determine whether an extenuating circumstances
    form which falls within its remit has been submitted in accordance with the
    University’s procedures and is admissible for substantive consideration. In a case
    where the form has not been submitted in accordance with the University’s
    procedures (for example, where the form has been submitted after the relevant
    deadline), the Sub-Committee shall determine whether there is good reason for non-
    compliance in which case the circumstances notified shall be given substantive
    consideration or whether there is not good reason in which case the circumstances
    notified shall normally not be given substantive consideration.
       Extenuating circumstances forms submitted after the relevant deadline should be
       considered only in those cases where insurmountable circumstances prevented the
       student from submitting the form (for example, hospitalization, incarceration, or
       equivalent incapacity).
    (b) In exercising its judgement in relation to personal circumstances, the Sub-
        Committee is required to take account of the severity of the problem, its duration,
        and its coincidence with a critical point in the assessment procedure. The Sub-
        Committee is required to treat each case on its merits.


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(c) The Chair of the Programme Special Cases Sub-Committee is responsible for
    reporting the cases fully to the Programme External Examiners and consulting them
    on the Sub-Committee’s recommendations, if the External Examiners have not been
    present at the meeting of the Sub-Committee, and for reporting summary
    recommendations to the Programme Examiners’ Meeting.
(d) It is required that Minutes are taken of the Sub-Committee’s meetings and are held
    within the School. Details of medical or personal circumstances should not be
    included in the Minutes, and supporting documentation, such as the forms
    submitted by students and medical certificates, should be held separately.
(e) The recommendation of the Sub-Committee, subject to the endorsement of the
    External Examiners, where appropriate, should normally be approved by the
    Programme Examiners’ Meeting without detailed discussion.
(f)   Following its endorsement by the Programme Examiners’ Meeting, a
      recommendation that a candidate at Finals and those on postgraduate programmes
      be deemed not to have sat or that a candidate be awarded an Aegrotat degree should
      be referred to the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting.
(g) The Chair of the Special Cases Sub-Committee may act on its behalf.



6.     Procedures of the Faculty Examiners’ Special Cases
       Sub-Committee
(a) The Sub-Committee is required to determine whether an extenuating circumstances
    form which falls within its remit has been submitted in accordance with the
    University’s procedures and is admissible for substantive consideration. In a case
    where the form has not been submitted in accordance with the University’s
    procedures (for example, where the form has been submitted after the relevant
    deadline), the Sub-Committee shall determine whether there is good reason for non-
    compliance in which case the circumstances notified shall be given substantive
    consideration or whether there is not good reason in which case the circumstances
    notified shall normally not be given substantive consideration.
      Extenuating circumstances forms submitted after the relevant deadline should be
      considered only in those cases where insurmountable circumstances prevented the
      student from submitting the form (for example, hospitalization, incarceration, or
      equivalent incapacity).
(b) In exercising its judgement in relation to personal circumstances, the Sub-
    Committee is required to take account of the severity of the problem, its duration,
    and its coincidence with a critical point in the assessment procedure. The Sub-
    Committee is required to treat each case on its merits.
(c) In respect of candidates at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (in those cases where a
    programme specifies progression requirements to proceed from Part 3 to Part 4), the

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      Chair of the Faculty Special Cases Sub-Committee is responsible for reporting the
      cases to Faculty External Examiners, if they have not been present at the meeting of
      the Sub-Committee, and for reporting summary recommendations to the Faculty
      Examiners’ Meeting.
(d) In respect of candidates at Finals and those on postgraduate programmes, the Faculty
    Special Cases Sub-Committee is responsible for considering fully the Programme
    Examiners’ recommendations that a candidate be deemed not to have sat or that a
    candidate be awarded an Aegrotat. The Chair is responsible for reporting summary
    recommendations to the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting. Other decisions in respect of
    special cases will not normally be considered by the Faculty Special Cases Sub-
    Committee. The External Examiners will not normally be consulted further at the
    stage of the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting.
(e) It is required that Minutes are taken of the Sub-Committee’s meetings and are held
    in the Examinations Office. Details of medical or personal circumstances should not
    be included in the Minutes, and supporting documentation, such as the forms
    submitted by students and medical certificates, should be held separately.
(f)   The recommendation of the Sub-Committee, subject to the endorsement of the
      External Examiners, where appropriate, should normally be approved by the
      Examiners’ Meeting without detailed discussion.
(g) The Chair of the Special Cases Sub-Committee may act on its behalf.



7.     Procedures for consideration of extenuating circumstances in
       relation to module marks
Where extenuating circumstances are notified in respect of a minor piece of work, the
Programme Special Cases Sub-Committee which has responsibility for the module may
take account of the circumstances in determining the mark for the module. In such
cases, the mark for the module may be calculated by a variant of the normal method.
Where a student has missed or otherwise performed poorly in an assessment on account
of significant extenuating circumstances, the student should, wherever possible, be
granted an extension for coursework or be set an alternative assessment. However,
where such arrangements are not feasible or would cause further adverse effects to the
candidate, consideration should be given to excluding the assessment affected from the
calculation of the module mark, to substituting a relevant coursework mark for the
assessment affected, or to deriving a mark by another method which is based on
evidence of the student’s performance. It is not permitted for ‘compensatory’ marks to
be assigned to a student in respect of extenuating circumstances.
Where a mark has been derived by any of the arrangements specified above, a record
should be kept and the information passed for endorsement to the Special Cases
Sub-Committee with responsibility for the student’s overall result.



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8.     Recommendations available to the Programme Special Cases
       Sub-Committee: Finals and taught postgraduate programmes
(a) The Programme Special Cases Sub-Committee will have primary responsibility for
    considering special cases in respect of candidates in the Final examinations and in
    examinations for postgraduate programmes. The Sub-Committee, having considered
    the candidate’s performance in the light of the circumstances notified, may
    recommend that:
     (i)   a candidate be awarded an Aegrotat degree;
     (ii) a candidate be deemed not to have sat in one or more modules;
     (iii) a candidate be given a higher result than that implied by the set of marks
           achieved, in which case the recommended result should be specified;
     (iv) a mark for a module be referred for review to the relevant Examiners and, in
          consequence, a recommendation in respect of the result may be deferred.
     In considering (iii) above, the Programme Special Cases Sub-Committee should
     consider carefully the evidence of a candidate’s performance and the basis for a
     recommendation, which might include: deriving a result from a reduced number of
     modules, excluding a limited number of modules affected by adverse circumstances;
     attaching greater weight to exit velocity; or deeming criteria to have been met
     where the shortfall is marginal.
(b) For cohorts who entered their programme in 2002/03 and thereafter, viva voce
    examinations may not be held to assist in the resolution of special cases. For cohorts
    who entered their programme prior to 2002/3, viva voce examinations may be held
    to assist in the resolution of special cases but only where other academic evidence
    which could be used to determine the appropriate result is incomplete or otherwise
    unsatisfactory. (This provision does not affect the practice of holding vivas as an
    element of the normal assessment process.)
(c) Following the Programme Examiners’ Meeting, recommendations that a candidate
    be awarded an Aegrotat degree or be deemed not to have sat will also be considered
    by the Special Cases Sub-Committee for the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting.



9.     Recommendations available in relation to Part 1, Part 2 and
       intermediate Part 3
(a) The Special Cases Sub-Committee of the Faculty Examiners’ Meeting will have
    primary responsibility for considering special cases in respect of candidates in the
    Part 1 and Part 2 examinations, and in Part 3 examinations (in those cases where a
    programme specifies progression requirements to proceed from Part 3 to Part 4).


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(b) The relevant Sub-Committee, having considered the candidate’s performance in the
    light of the circumstances notified, may recommend that:
    (i)   a candidate be deemed not to have sat in one or more modules;
    (ii) a candidate be given a higher result than the set of marks imply, in which case
         the recommended result should be specified;
    (iii) a mark for a module be referred for review to the module convenor and, in
          consequence, a recommendation in respect of the result may be deferred.
    In considering (i) above, in a case where the candidate had fulfilled the requirements
    for progression the Special Cases Sub-Committee would normally recommend that a
    result should stand. However, the Sub-Committee should take into account
    representations from the School and may exceptionally recommend that a candidate
    be deemed not to have sat in cases where the candidate had missed, or had been
    adversely affected in, a high proportion of assessments or where allowing a set of
    low marks to stand would severely disadvantage the candidate. Where such a
    recommendation is made, the candidate should normally have the right to decline
    the ‘deemed not to have sat’ and to progress, retaining the marks achieved. Where
    no recommendation is made to deem a candidate not to have sat, but the
    extenuating circumstances are approved, the Faculty Special Cases Sub-Committee
    should instruct the Programme Examiners’ Meeting to consider the extenuating
    circumstances in their determination of the candidate’s classification.
    In considering (ii) above, the Special Cases Sub-Committee should consider carefully
    the evidence of a candidate’s performance and the basis for a recommendation,
    which might include: deriving a result from a reduced number of modules,
    excluding a limited number of modules affected by adverse circumstances; or
    deeming criteria to have been met where the shortfall is marginal.
It should be noted that the provision that the Special Cases Sub-Committees for Parts 1
and 2, and Part 3 (in those cases where a programme specifies progression requirements
to proceed from Part 3 to Part 4), may recommend a result which is at variance with that
implied by the set of marks represents a departure from previous practice. Previously,
the University applied absolutely the criteria for progression at Part I and II, and did not
permit a candidate to progress unless they had achieved the 40% or the relevant
threshold pass mark. The Faculty Examiners had not sought to interpret a range of
marks in the light of extenuating circumstances, but had, on occasion, invited
departments to review marginal marks for modules in the light of those circumstances.




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10. Feedback to students
It is good practice for the School Senior Tutor (or his or her representative) to inform a
student whether the circumstances notified:
(a) were considered to be substantial and appropriate action was taken;
(b) were considered to be substantial but no action was appropriate given the result;
(c) were not considered substantial and no action was taken;
(d) had not been submitted in accordance with the University’s procedures and were
    therefore not given substantive consideration.




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