What is the Extenuating Circumstances procedure for?
If you are ill or your studies have been affected by other serious events, you can submit an Extenuating Circumstances form. ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ are events that are sudden, significantly disruptive and beyond your control.
Extenuating Circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Bereavement: For a child, sibling, spouse or partner
- Shorter-term medical conditions: Serious personal injury, medical condition or mental health condition
- Longer-term medical conditions: Serious worsening or acute episode of an ongoing disability, medical condition or mental health condition
- Victim of violent crime: Assault, mugging
During the pandemic, the definition of Extenuating Circumstances has been expanded to include:
- Ongoing parenting/home-schooling
- Ongoing caring responsibilities
- Ongoing employment as a critical worker, such as UCL students who work for the NHS
- Technical failures in online exams
- Significant technical issues in submitting coursework that are not reasonably foreseeable and which have a material impact on the student
More information on what is considered an Extenuating Circumstance can be found in the Academic Manual (Annex 4.1.1: Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances).
How does the Extenuating Circumstances procedure work?
You can find information about the Extenuating Circumstances procedure in your student handbook. There will be a designated person in your department/division who is responsible for dealing with extenuating circumstances. It is usually your Departmental Tutor, who should be listed on your Faculty webpages.
You need to ensure that your submission for extenuating circumstances is made within one week of the circumstance taking place. If you miss the deadline, you will need to prove that your circumstances made it impossible for you to submit earlier.
You will need to complete and submit an Extenuating Circumstances form, and if you cannot self-certify under UCL’s enhanced Extenuating Circumstances procedure, you will also need to provide the relevant evidence. Detail of where to submit the form are in your Student Handbook. The receiving office will forward your form confidentially to the appropriate person.
It is important that you check your Department’s guidance, as the rules and procedure for each Department may differ. You will usually find this in your Handbook, or ask your Departmental Tutor.
Can I self-certify?
UCL have an enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure in place for the 2020/21 academic year. This means that students can self-certify without providing evidence for up to five separate periods within the 2020-21 academic session. If a programme includes teaching after Term 3, students can also self-certify on a sixth separate occasion.
Where students can self-certify, mitigation is limited to:
- Coursework extensions up to 14 calendar days
- Suspension of Late Submission Penalties for coursework submitted up to 14 calendar days late
- Deferral without Tuition to the next normal occasion (typically the Late Summer Assessment Period)
- Permission to spread assessments between two assessment periods without penalty
If a student has ECs covering a period of up to 14 calendar days they can submit a self-certified claim to cover any assessments falling within that period. Normally, these periods must be 14 calendar days apart, although this is at the discretion of Faculty EC Panels.
Self-certified claims for extensions, deferrals and late submission can be submitted no more than two weeks in advance of the affected assessments.
You can find the full enhanced Extenuating Circumstances procedure here.
What evidence will I need?
If the mitigation you are applying for is not included in the enhanced Extenuating Circumstances procedure, you will need to provide evidence with your EC claim. Evidence should be from the appropriate independent authority (doctor, police officer, court officer etc.) and must cover the full period for which you are requesting mitigation.
Short term illness / injury / hospitalisation: Medical certificate or letter from your doctor. This must be specific, it cannot just say that you were ill, or that you told your doctor you had been ill.
The evidence must have (if applicable to your situation):
- Name of the health condition or impairment
- Date of diagnosis
- Period of time that you have been seeing the practitioner for this condition / impairment
- Length of time that the practitioner expects the condition / impairment to last
- Main symptoms of this condition which could impact on studies (e.g. mobility impairment, loss of concentration) and living in a university environment
- Current treatment and / or medication being undertaken
- Side effects of any treatments or medication
Illness of a dependent or relative: Medical certificate or doctor’s letter, as above. You will need to explain on your submission why you were required to provide support to this person, and that there was nobody else available to provide support. If the illness of your relative has had a direct effect on you, such as an impact on your own health or mental wellbeing, you will also need to provide the appropriate medical evidence verifying the impact this has had on you too.
The evidence must be a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered doctor verifying the illness.
Bereavement: You will be required to provide a death certificate. Where the deceased person is a close relative - partner, parent, child or sibling - then the death certificate alone will be sufficient.
If you have been affected by a death of someone other than one of the specified relatives, you will need to clarify your relationship to the deceased and the impact this has had upon you. If you are able to obtain a letter from a doctor or other registered medical practitioner to confirm this impact, this may help your case.
The evidence can include:
- A death certificate.
- An official copy of a death certificate.
- A letter from your doctor.
- A coroner’s report.
Personal/emotional problems and trauma: This may include separation from spouse/partner, conflict with others, relationship breakdown with parents or guardians.
You must provide a statement that must verify how you have been affected and what impact this has had upon your assessment, and the dates when these circumstances occurred and continued to.
Examination stress is a common experience and not usually considered an extenuating circumstance. However, this may be accepted if there has been an acute flare up of a mental health or medical condition, related to exam stress, which can be documented with evidence from a doctor or other registered medical practitioner.
The evidence must be a signed statement from a registered doctor or other medical practitioner in UCL Student Services OR external to the University
Disability and long term illness: Disability, including ongoing, long term illness and recurring and diagnosed mental illness would not usually be considered under the Extenuating Circumstances procedure, with the exception where there has been a particular worsening, serious episode or mental health crisis and documentary evidence can be provided. There can also be an exception where it is a new condition or there has not been time to put reasonable adjustments in place. They will not normally be considered because where you have disclosed a disability, your department should already have put into place Reasonable Adjustments to support your studies. It is only where there has been additional unexpected disruption to your studies that extenuating circumstances would be considered.
We would encourage you to disclose disability and mental illness to UCL, with the support of UCL’s Student Disability Services or Student Psychological and Counselling Services , to ensure that UCL makes the required reasonable adjustments throughout your studies, and that you are supported when you need it.
UCL has a legal duty to ensure that you are not treated any less favourably, and that you have fair access to your education and all of UCL’s services and support.
Victim of crime : Police/crime report - a crime number alone is not acceptable.
In some circumstances as a victim of crime you may not have contacted the Police, and this is accepted by UCL. In these circumstances you will need to provide a letter from a doctor or other registered medical professional stating the impact this event had on you.
- Police/crime report (a crime number on its own is not acceptable).
- Letter or certificate from a doctor or other registered medical professional external to the University.
University computer problems or academic problems: UCL do not consider general computer problems to be extenuating circumstances, they expect you to have some contingency plans to deal with computer problems! They won’t usually accept things such as viruses, disk corruption, printer problems etc. However, they will consider your circumstances if there is a significant failure of the University network systems or serious problems with academic project work such as equipment failure.
Other serious circumstances: This list of circumstances is not exhaustive, there might be other circumstances that could affect you that are not listed here. You can get advice on your circumstances from your Departmental Tutor or the Advice Service.
Other serious circumstances can include: serious financial or housing problems which prevented you from studying, major incidents and pregnancy and maternity related issues.
What happens after submitting an Extenuating Circumstances form?
If you have submitted a self-certified EC claim, this will be considered by staff in your department, who will try to give you a response as quickly as possible.
If you are looking for a different outcome, your request will be considered by a Departmental Extenuating Circumstances Panel. You should be informed of the mitigation decision within one week of the EC Panel meeting.
You cannot contest the outcome of an Extenuating Circumstances request on the grounds of academic judgement. However, if you feel that there has been a procedural error in the handling of their request, or that the type of mitigation offered is unsuitable, you may request that the Departmental Extenuating Circumstances Panel review their decision. Requests for review must be submitted within two weeks of the extension or mitigation decision, and should be submitted to the same office as you submitted your Extenuating Circumstances form.
You should receive a response within one week of submitting the request for review. If you are still unhappy after the review, you can appeal using the Student Complaints Procedure.
If you have any concerns or questions about the Extenuating Circumstances process, contact the Advice Service as soon as possible to make sure you have all the information you need to make your decision.