Requests for additional consideration and attendance requirements
74 Sometimes, students have to meet a course attendance requirement either because their course requires it (for instance, because it is a professionally qualifying degree), or to meet the conditions of their visa. If a student’s ability to attend is affected by circumstances beyond their control, they may tell their provider by making a request for additional consideration, unless there is a separate procedure.
75 As in most workplaces, students should normally be allowed to report their own absences and to self-certify short periods of illness that affect their attendance. But it is good practice for the provider to place a limit on the number of days for which a student can normally self-certify absence, after which the student may be required to provide evidence or be asked to discuss their circumstances with a member of staff. If a student is frequently absent, they may have an underlying issue and need additional support, or they may need to take some time away from their studies or be referred to the provider’s support for study process. Annex 1 provides guidance on support for study processes.
Requests for additional consideration and pregnancy
76 It is good practice for providers to have a maternity policy which sets out what arrangements will be made when a student discloses that they are pregnant. It is good practice (and in some cases essential) for the provider to undertake a risk assessment to assess whether any changes are needed to the student’s studies for health and safety reasons. There may, for example, be practical assessments that the student should not do because they involve exposure to chemicals that could be harmful in pregnancy, in which case the provider would need to make alternative arrangements.
77 Generally, students who are pregnant should not need to use the additional consideration process unless they experience ill-health or complications associated with the pregnancy. But the provider may need to adjust the student’s exams or assessments if they fall close to their due date, for instance by allowing rest breaks, or it may need to defer the exams if they are due to take place when the student is on maternity leave. The provider should discuss the arrangements with the student concerned.
Requests for additional consideration and groupwork
78 Many degree programmes require students to undertake groupwork assessments, such as group projects or group presentations. Students should be able to use the additional consideration process if, for instance, the whole group has been affected by circumstances beyond its control, or if an individual member of the group experiences difficulties and so is unable to contribute effectively. For issues affecting the whole group, the provider may allow the group to submit one request for additional consideration which applies to all students in the group.
79 Providers will need to consider groupwork-related requests for additional consideration on their individual facts. Outcomes will vary depending on the nature of the assessment and whether the circumstances have affected the whole group or an individual student within the group. For instance, where the circumstances have affected the whole group, it may be reasonable to agree an extension to the submission deadline or to defer the assessment for all members of the group to a later date. Where the circumstances have affected an individual student within the group, it may be reasonable to allow the student to complete an individual assignment in place of the groupwork or to put other suitable arrangements in place. It may also be necessary to adjust the assessment for the other members of the group. Where the circumstances have affected an individual student, the provider should keep details of those circumstances confidential to the student concerned.
Requests for additional consideration and postgraduate research students
80 The guidance set out in this Section of the Good Practice Framework applies to requests for additional consideration from postgraduate research students in the same way as requests from taught students. Postgraduate research students may need to use the process to ask for additional consideration in relation to interim assessments (such as annual progress reviews or transfer / upgrade to PhD), to request an extension to their thesis submission deadline, or in relation to their viva.
81 Details of the request for additional consideration process should be communicated clearly to postgraduate research students, for instance in research student handbooks and on the provider’s website. Because research students do not generally sit written exams and may be following a different academic year structure to taught students, they may miss general reminders about the process to follow. Therefore, it is good practice to highlight the process separately to research students at key stages in their studies. Those considering requests should have a good understanding of the provider’s regulations relating to research students, including timeframes and key progression points and the nature of study and assessment at research degree level. Supervisors and those supporting research students should know about the request for additional consideration process.
Requests for additional consideration and placements
82 Many students do placements as part of their course, for instance for the purposes of practical training on a professionally qualifying degree, for industrial experience, or to study abroad. Depending on the placement, there may be separate processes for students to report absence or circumstances affecting their performance and they may need to inform both the placement provider and the higher education provider itself. Higher education providers should explain the process(es) to students before the placement starts.
83 It is important that students understand any professional standards that might apply to the placement. For example, students experiencing a common cold may be well enough to study, but not be allowed to attend a ward placement with vulnerable patients. Placements may also have more stringent processes for the prompt reporting of absence.
84 The professional requirements of a course may affect how a provider deals with requests for additional consideration and this should be explained to students. Sometimes, it is a requirement that students complete a specified number of days at a placement and in those cases the provider needs to explain to students whether a placement may be extended, or whether and when a new placement will be required.
Requests for additional consideration and delivering learning opportunities with others
85 Many providers in England and Wales deliver learning opportunities with one or more other providers or awarding organisations, in the UK or overseas. We have published good practice guidance on Delivering learning opportunities with others for providers to consider when handling complaints and academic appeals in the context of these arrangements.
86 Where providers deliver learning opportunities with others, the most common arrangement is for a partnership between one provider that awards the degree and another that delivers the teaching. The agreement between the providers should set out their respective responsibilities, including which provider is responsible for considering requests for additional consideration. Generally, the awarding provider is responsible for ensuring that its own responsibilities, and the roles of the provider(s) with which it works, are clearly distinguished and publicised. The awarding provider is also generally responsible for ensuring that students studying at the delivery provider have clear information about the process for making a request for additional consideration, and the initial route for making an academic appeal. Awarding providers should therefore work with their delivery providers to ensure that the relevant procedures are communicated clearly to students and staff. Awarding providers should also work with their delivery providers to ensure consistency of approach to additional consideration requests, particularly where the arrangement involves partners in different countries.
87 The student’s day to day contact will normally be with the delivery provider where they are studying. If the student is asking for something straightforward like a short extension to a coursework deadline, that may be something that the delivery provider can deal with.
88 However, as the awarding provider has ultimate responsibility for the quality and standards of its awards, it may be necessary for the delivery provider to report the outcomes of additional consideration requests to the awarding provider – or to refer cases to the awarding provider where an academic outcome needs to be considered by the relevant exam board. This should be made clear in the procedures. Students should normally have a final right of appeal to the awarding provider if they are unhappy with a decision taken on their request for additional consideration, for instance through the academic appeals procedure.
Requests for additional consideration and apprenticeships
89 An apprenticeship is a job with training to recognised industry standards. Arrangements for the delivery and assessment of higher and degree apprenticeships are underpinned by contracts between the higher education provider, the employer and other relevant parties, and may be complex.
90 In line with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, a higher education provider with UK degree awarding powers is responsible for the academic quality and standards of the qualifications it awards, whatever the contractual arrangement with the employer or with other partners involved in the apprenticeship scheme.
91 Apprentices may need to follow a specific process to report absence or circumstances affecting their performance. The process should be communicated clearly to apprentices and should follow the broad principles set out in this Section of the Good Practice Framework. As apprentices are students of the higher education provider, they should have recourse to the provider’s academic appeals or complaints procedure if they are unhappy with decisions taken about circumstances affecting their performance.