Personal Circumstances Procedure

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Useful Documents

The Personal Circumstances and Academic Appeals Procedure can be downloaded from:

Academic Policies & Procedures

The University’s procedures for the consideration of difficult Personal Circumstances seeks to ensure that all students are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control. For the purpose of this policy, Personal circumstances are defined as circumstances beyond a student’s control which may adversely affect their ability to study or their performance in assessment*.

It is accepted that assessment/examination periods can be stressful. However, as a student you need to be able to plan and manage your time and workload to meet deadlines, to cope with a certain level of stress, and to manage University studies alongside other responsibilities in life. Illnesses and difficult life events do occur, and it is a normal part of life to have to manage these and continue with work or study.

We understand that many problems or events may be personal and private, and that you may be reluctant to disclose them to a member of University staff. However, we would encourage you to do so for your own benefit. We will deal with personal information sensitively and will ensure the information is not disclosed unnecessarily.

*Assessment can take many forms including but not restricted to: examinations, coursework, assignments, presentations and lab reports. It can be the work of the student alone or the product of group work.

 How we will use your information

You can find out about how we will use your information and your rights in the University’s Privacy Notice for Students, which is available on our website (www.strath.ac.uk/dataprotection).

FULLY COMPLETED AND SIGNED PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES FORMS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO,  personal-circumstances@strath.ac.uk. IF THE FORM IS INCOMPLETE AND/OR HAS NOT BEEN SIGNED IT WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU. IF YOU MAKE A WRITTEN SUBMISSION VIA EMAIL IT WILL BE REJECTED AND YOU WILL BE ASKED TO SUBMIT A PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES FORM.

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CAREFULLY BEFORE SUBMITTING A PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES FORM. 

Procedure

If your ability to study or performance in assessment/examination has been, or will be, affected by circumstances that are acute, severe and beyond your control you should inform the University as soon as you are aware of these circumstances.

Personal Circumstances Forms should NOT be submitted for minor illnesses or ailments that would not lead to equivalent absence from a work environment and can normally be treated with over the counter remedies (e.g. sore throats, minor colds, headaches etc.) 

If you are absent from the University you should follow the guidance below:

For absences of 7 calendar days* or less:

If you have been absent from the University for 7 days or less you should record a self-certification online via Pegasus using the Personal Circumstances link under the Services tab – https://ben.mis.strath.ac.uk/personalcircumstances/control/addSelfCertPage. You do NOT need to submit a Personal Circumstances Form.  

For absences of more than 7 calendar days*:

If you have been absent from the University for more than 7 days, you are required to submit a fully completed Personal Circumstances Form along with a medical certificate or appropriate supporting evidence (if in relation to a health related absence), to personal-circumstances@strath.ac.uk.

*Normally seven calendar days equates to five working days plus the weekend, except where the period covers University closure days.

For absences from a formal assessment/examination:  

You may not self-certify absence from a formal assessment/examination. If you are absent from a formal assessment/examination due to sickness or circumstances which are outside your control you should submit a Personal Circumstances Form and formal medical certificate or appropriate supporting evidence (if in relation to a health related absence) to personal-circumstances@strath.ac.uk.

The form should be submitted within five working days of the date of the affected formal assessment/examination or deadline. Notification of Personal Circumstances will not normally be accepted after the relevant Personal Circumstances Board has met (you can find out when this is by contacting your Department/School).

It is your responsibility to notify the University and to provide the relevant supporting evidence. You should clearly state the extent, duration and nature of your Personal Circumstances and how these circumstances affected your performance. The Board of Examiners will not consider your circumstances unless you follow the procedure set out above i.e. either record a self-certification online via Pegasus or submit a Personal Circumstances Form to personal-circumstances@strath.ac.uk.

 

Extensions to Coursework Submissions

Myplace provides an online extension request facility that gives instructions on the submission and approval of extension requests. Please refer to the Policy and Procedure on Extensions to Submissions to Coursework. Where students’ circumstances have a significant negative impact on their studies, students may require an extension to the deadline for the submission of a piece of coursework that is longer than seven calendar days. In such cases you should also submit a Personal Circumstances form. You should NOT submit a Personal circumstances form for an extension request that is for less than seven calendar days.

Grounds

Personal Circumstances will be considered if they have caused significant interference with your academic performance. In general, though not exclusively, circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for a significant period of time and/or during the formal assessment/examination period. These are normally circumstances that prevent you from submitting a piece of course work/sitting an examination or cause you to perform less well than you might otherwise have been expected to do (as judged by performance in other work).

Boards and Appeal Committees will not consider circumstances that could/should have been reasonably avoided or where it is not clear that there has been a significant impact on your academic performance. Minor ailments and personal difficulties of the sort faced by many students in the normal course of University life will not be considered.

To be considered, personal circumstances must have significantly affected your academic performance, attendance (including formal assessments/examinations) or ability to meet a submission deadline. In considering the effect of personal circumstances on your performance the following will be taken into account:

  • The severity of the problem and the length of time involved;
  • The evidence presented to support the Personal Circumstances submission;
  • Your performance during the period affected and your overall and past performance.

Based on the information that you submit, the relevant Board will make recommendations to the appropriate Board of Examiners as to whether any academic dispensation should be granted. The Board of Examiners will then take into account the recommendations of the Pre-Board or Personal Circumstances Board, normally by discounting all or part of an assessment, not by raising a mark. 

Examples of Personal Circumstances

You are strongly encouraged to speak with your Personal Development Adviser or another member of staff in your Department/School about your circumstances when they occur.

The following is a list of examples of circumstances that WOULD normally be considered by a Personal Circumstances Board. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Serious illness, physical or mental, or accident which can be verified, including sudden and unexpected deterioration of a long term condition;
  • Hospital admission during or immediately before the assessment period or for a significant period during the semester;
  • Serious illness of a close relative*/significant other;
  • Unexpectedly becoming the sole or main carer** for a relative/significant other;
  • Bereavement – loss of a close relative*/significant other, or close friend;
  • Funeral of a relative or close friend occurring on the day of a formal assessment;
  • Being a victim of or witness to a significant crime;
  • Other circumstances e.g. fleeing domestic abuse, homelessness, fire etc.

*Close relative is normally defined as a child, partner, parent or sibling, or a relative responsible for raising the student.  

**In such cases, students should inform the University of their caring status by speaking to their Personal Development Adviser or similar. For more information see https://www.strath.ac.uk/sees/wideningaccess/gettingin/informationforstudentcarers/

Personal Circumstances Boards will not consider circumstances that students are expected to cope with as part of a properly managed workload or circumstances that would not normally have a significant impact on academic performance.

The following are examples of circumstances which WOULD NOT normally be considered. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Minor illnesses or ailments that would not lead to equivalent absence from a work environment and can normally be treated with over the counter remedies (e.g. sore throats, minor colds, headaches etc.);
  • A long-term condition where treatment or additional support/arrangements are in place to mitigate;
  • Circumstances which have already been fully catered for by the granting of an extension for submitting coursework or assignments;
  • General pressure of work;
  • The timetabling of examinations or the scheduling of coursework deadlines;
  • Inadequate planning to cope with last minute delays and missing deadlines because of computer difficulties or transport difficulties;
  • Holidays;
  • Attending family events such as weddings. (Note: Attendance at funerals is an exception to this);
  • Failure of cultural acclimatisation.
Evidence

You should provide original/hardcopy, independent documentary evidence. This must show that your personal circumstances were out with your control and could not be prevented. The evidence must be dated and match with the dates of the teaching and/or formal assessment(s)/examination(s) reported to be affected.

 Examples of admissible evidence (include but are not limited to):

  • Medical certificate, hospital letter/appointment, letter from a counsellor;
  • Letter from solicitor, summons to attend court or attend for jury service;
  • Order of Service or copy death certificate (where possible).

The important thing is that you let your Department/School know as soon as possible. 

Note: if the original documentation submitted as evidence is not in English, an independent translation must also be provided e.g. from a professional translation service, member of University staff, or embassy. The translation should not be undertaken by you, a member of your family or a friend. 

The following will NOT be accepted as evidence:

  • Letters from a member of your family, friends or other students;
  • Self-certificates for missed formal assessments/examinations;
  • Medical certificates originating overseas (for UK campus-based students) unless pertaining to an incident that happened overseas.
False Declaration

The submission of a false Personal Circumstances claim or appeal will be regarded as making a false declaration in order to receive special consideration by Board of Examiners or Appeals Committee, or to obtain extensions to deadlines or exemption from work. This is an offence of academic dishonesty and may result in disciplinary action against the student.

The Disability and Wellbeing Service

Students who are aware of a disability, long-term medical condition, mental health or other long-term circumstances that are expected to have an impact on their performance should make the University aware of these circumstances at the earliest possible opportunity and should contact the Disability & Wellbeing Service to discuss relevant support strategies.

Advice

For advice and support in submitting Personal Circumstances, you are advised to discuss the issue with one or more of the following:

All of the above are able to advise you on the process/procedure.

Next Steps

If you are not satisfied that the Board of Examiners have taken sufficient and appropriate account of the difficult personal circumstances you experienced, you can appeal against the decision of the Board to the Faculty Board of Study. The Academic Appeals Procedure is available at https://www.strath.ac.uk/studentlifecycle/appeals/