1 The Good Practice Framework: Handling complaints and academic appeals sets out core principles and operational good practice for higher education providers in England and Wales. The core principles are accessibility; clarity; proportionality; timeliness; fairness; independence; confidentiality; and improving the student experience. These principles also apply to this section of the Good Practice Framework, on requests for additional consideration.
2 Students are sometimes taken ill before or during an exam or assessment deadline, or their performance is affected by other unexpected events that are beyond their control. Students are generally able to ask their higher education provider to take these circumstances into account. Most providers in England and Wales have a formal process for this, often called the “mitigating”, “extenuating” or “special circumstances” procedures, or “factors affecting performance”.
3 In this section of the Good Practice Framework, we use the term “requests for additional consideration”. We have chosen this term because we think it is easier to understand than others that are in common use. We encourage providers to use this term in their own procedures.
4 It is of course crucial that a provider’s approach to requests for additional consideration does not compromise academic standards. The aim should be to give students a fair opportunity to show that they can reach those standards, not to lower them. It is also reasonable to expect students in general to be able to cope with normal life events, to manage their workloads properly, and to expect a level of pressure around assessments.
5 This section of the Good Practice Framework is built on existing good practice identified by providers, student representative bodies (including students’ unions), complainants and the OIA. In March 2019, we held a forum to encourage conversation about how providers approach students’ requests for additional consideration, involving providers and student representative bodies. We published a discussion paper setting out some insights from that forum, from the many cases we have seen, and from other discussions we have had with sector bodies in November 2019. In January, February and March 2020, we held a series of online discussions with providers and student representative bodies looking at themes covered by the discussion paper. The feedback gained has been invaluable in informing this guidance.
6 This section should be read together with the other sections, particularly those on Handling complaints and academic appeals and Supporting disabled students.