Swansea University

3. Guidelines on 'Extenuating Circumstances'

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 or long-term health conditions and student wellbeing or mental health issues should be supported by the Disability Office or Wellbeing Services respectively, in consultation with the College and student (see Guidelines for Colleges 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.
  • Alleged medical condition without reasonable evidence (medical or otherwise) to support it.
  • 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: computer failure, printer malfunction, deadline congestion, 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. Medical certification is expected to be provided, and should clearly apply to the period immediately prior to an assessment date.
  • 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. Medical certification is expected to be provided, and should clearly apply to the assessment date or a short period immediately prior to an assessment date.
  • Death or serious illness of a close relative or friend. Supporting independent evidence must 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 be provided.
  • Other significant exceptional factors which have had a significant impact on the student. Supporting independent evidence must be provided.
  • Part time block-release or distance-learning students only –unforeseen significant changes in pattern of employment. Supporting independent evidence must be provided. 

3.2

Full documentation to substantiate any extenuating circumstances claims must be provided. Such evidence provided 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.

3.2.1

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of appropriate evidence: 

  • 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 a student taken ill during an examination, a copy of the invigilator’s report.  (This should be accompanied by medical evidence wherever possible).
  • Hospital admission and discharge letter, to confirm time spent in hospital
  • At their discretion, a letter of support/explanation from a support service in the University, e.g. Disability Service, Wellbeing Service etc.
  • Death certificate / Order or 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 is not considered appropriate and unlikely to be accepted: 

  • Self-certification of circumstances
  • Evidence which is not supplied by an independent party
  • Medical condition supported by retrospective evidence
  • A letter from a parent, partner, family member or fellow student verifying circumstances where there is no other independent supporting 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

< 2. Underlying Principles | 4. Extenuating Circumstances Policy >