7 A student might ask for additional consideration for something that has affected their performance in an exam, assessment or project, or on a practical placement, or their engagement with the course more generally. This might be an illness or accident, a bereavement, or something else that has affected their ability to study or to prepare for, or complete, the assessment or exam. Usually the event or circumstance will be unexpected and beyond the student’s control. Sometimes a group of students will be affected by disruption to an exam, or a problem with the assessment itself. There may also be circumstances that affect students more generally across the provider, or even more widely, such as outbreaks of epidemic disease.
8 Additional consideration processes are normally designed to deal with acute, but shorter-term circumstances that impact on a student’s performance or ability to study. If a student’s circumstances have had (or are likely to have) a longer-term impact, then the additional consideration process may not be appropriate. It may be necessary to consider additional actions to support their learning, for example referring them to the provider’s disability support staff or allowing them to take some time away from their studies until they are able to resume. Annex 1 contains guidance on support for study processes.
9 It is up to providers to decide what kinds of circumstances they will typically accept under their additional consideration processes, and what kinds of circumstances they will typically exclude. It is good practice for providers to give some examples in their procedures, as illustrated in the following table.
Examples of circumstances
|Examples of circumstances likely to be accepted
|Examples of circumstances unlikely to be accepted
- Serious short-term illness or injury
- Worsening of an ongoing illness or disability, including mental health conditions
- Symptoms of an infectious disease that could be harmful if passed on to others
- Death or significant illness of a close family member or friend
- Unexpected caring responsibilities for a family member or dependant
- Significant personal or family crises leading to acute stress
- Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident
- A crime which has had a substantial impact on the student
- Accommodation crisis such as eviction or the home becoming uninhabitable
- An emergency or crisis that prevents the student from attending an exam or accessing an online assessment
- A technical problem that prevents the student from accessing online teaching or assessment
- Safeguarding concerns
- Holidays, house moves or other events that were planned or could reasonably have been expected
- Minor illness such as common colds or hay fever, unless the symptoms are particularly severe
- Assessments that are scheduled close together
- Misreading the exam timetable
- Poor time management
- Minor transport disruption
- Computer or printer failure where the student should have backed-up their work
- Normal exam stress
- Minor life events, unless the circumstances have had a disproportionate impact
10 Students may also be able to use the additional consideration process where their assessments are impacted by undertaking public duties (such as jury service) or by competing in national or international sporting events or other similarly high-profile activities. It is good practice for providers to give examples of what might be accepted on these grounds.
11 Although it is good practice for providers to give examples of things that may or may not be acceptable under their additional consideration processes, providers should look carefully at anything that is likely to have affected the student’s performance. Some problems, for example financial hardship or caring responsibilities that existed before the student started their studies, may not generally be acceptable reasons for giving a student additional consideration. But for some students, in some circumstances, it may be fair to take those difficulties into account when looking at the student’s performance, non-attendance or late submission. For example, it might be fair to take into account a student’s unexpected financial crisis (beyond budgeting difficulties) if the crisis got in the way of their studies, or to take into account caring responsibilities if those responsibilities changed during the student’s studies or had a bigger impact than the student was anticipating.
CASE STUDY 1: Considering requests on their individual facts
A student’s studies were being funded by a family member, giving the student enough money to cover their tuition fees and living expenses. Shortly before the start of the student’s exams, the family member suddenly withdrew funding because their business had gone into administration and they no longer had the funds available. This meant that the student couldn’t pay their rent and had little money for food, causing them significant distress.
The provider’s additional consideration process normally excludes financial difficulties, on the basis that students should ensure they can fund their studies and budget appropriately. However, it accepted the student’s request for additional consideration in this instance because they had experienced a sudden and unexpected financial crisis which affected their ability to prepare for their exams.
12 Unless a student experiences particularly acute symptoms, it is normally reasonable for providers to exclude minor illnesses (such as common colds and short-lived stomach upsets) from additional consideration processes for coursework. Providers can reasonably expect students to plan their work and manage their time appropriately to be able to cope with minor, short-term illness.
13 Similarly, providers may generally exclude minor illnesses from additional consideration processes for exams. But additional consideration would be needed if the student’s illness prevented them from going to an exam or meant that they had to leave early, or if the student missed an exam because they were suffering from minor symptoms of an infectious disease that could be harmful if passed on to others.
14 There may be some circumstances that affect a group of students. These might include disruption to an exam venue due to a fire alarm, disruption in or outside the exam room, or problems with an exam question paper. Normally, providers should consider the impact of these types of circumstances without requiring each student to request additional consideration. The provider should explain to the students concerned what it is doing about the disruption. Providers should, however, allow individual students to submit requests for additional consideration if the impact on them has been particularly severe.
15 Some providers may have separate processes for considering requests for extensions to coursework deadlines, requests for additional consideration relating to circumstances that affected a large group of students, or concerns about a student’s attendance. The principles of this section should apply to those separate processes.