Extenuating Circumstances

We know that sometimes your deadlines can be real monsters, especially if you are hit by severe unexpected circumstances. Your work could be seriously affected – and might even turn into an academic offence! And no-one wants that. So don’t let this be you and make sure you know the facts about extensions and deferrals.

University rules allow you to ask for more time on your deadlines, be that an coursework extension or an exam deferral but you must do it before it’s too late.

Get advice on the deadlines you need to meet and defeat those monsters!

What is deferring?

Deferring an assessment means postponing it to the next scheduled assessment date.  

Deferring the assessment does not excuse attendance from timetabled classes.  Attendance is mandatory and the regulations permit students to be terminated for poor attendance.  Failing to attend is likely to disadvantage your performance in the assessments even if your deferral request is granted.  If you are unable to maintain attendance, interruption of studies may be a more appropriate course of action than deferral.

What is the difference between deferral and interruption?

Interruption means your registration is suspended so for the duration of the interruption you will not be deemed to be a registered student.  This means you will not be charged fees, you cannot attend classes or use facilities such as the library or IT suites, and you cannot submit any assignments.  Interruption has to be formally agreed by the programme leader and a form must be completed and signed by you.  At the point of agreeing the interruption the commencement date of the interruption and the date of returning should be made clear.  Before agreeing an interruption it is recommended that you discuss the implications with a DSU Adviser as this may affect your finances and accommodation in ways you have not considered.

What is the difference between deferral and an extension?

Extensions are granted at the tutor’s discretion for a maximum of 14 days.  There is no form or formal process for requesting an extension, just ask the tutor at the earliest opportunity before the deadline and explain your situation.  If this is not granted or if 14 days is insufficient, you should apply for deferral.

What is the difference between a deferral and a re-sit?

A deferred assessment just takes place at a later date, so the missed assessment opportunity is not counted.  This means taking a deferred assessment differs from a re-sit because it will not be capped (unless you are deferring a re-sit) and deferring will not use up any of your reassessment credits (which are limited).   

What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances are genuine circumstances beyond a student’s control or ability to foresee, and which seriously impair his or her assessed work.

Can I defer?

You can apply to defer if you are within the deadline, if your circumstances meet the criteria for deferral set out in Chapter 5 of the General Regulations and if you have third-party evidence to support your request.

Please note that if relying on medical evidence, your consultation must have been at the time of the assessment you are seeking to defer - if if is dated afterwards, it is likley to be rejected.  In relation to exams, medical evidence must contain the professional's medical opinion that the illness/condition cited affected the student’s performance or ability to attend on the date of the exam(s) concerned. A letter stating only what the student has reported to the doctor will not normally be accepted, especially if this was at a later date.

What is the deadline to defer for coursework?

The deadlines to apply for deferral of an exam are published on the DMU website.  

The coursework deadlines vary between courses, schools and faculties, so for these it is best to check with your Faculty Advice Centre.

Out-of-time (late) deferrals will only be considered in the most exceptional circumstances, for example where you have been hospitalised and unable to apply sooner. 

Deferral requests will not be considered after the results are published.

What is the deadline to defer exams?

End of session examinations (May): All requests must be received by Friday 25 May 2018.

August examinations: All requests must be received by Friday 24 August 2018.

For postgraduate examinations and undergraduate examinations that fall outside the main examination periods (May/August), the deadline for requests will be 14 days from the date of the exam concerned.  Students should make contact with their Faculty Office to discover the relevant deadlines for Extenuating Circumstances applications.

Deadlines will be strictly enforced so you must apply on time. Seek advice from us if you are struggling to submit on time, and please do so before the deadline.

How do I request a deferral?

A deferral request form must be completed, signed and submitted (available from your Faculty Advice Centre or downloadable here).  

The form may need to be accompanied by a supporting statement giving additional details.  There is space to write a few lines on the form, but you are more likely to be approved if you give full information so do not leave out anything important and write “See supporting statement” if there isn’t enough space. A helpful template is here.
 
Providing evidence of the circumstances affecting you is essential.  If this is not yet available make sure you submit your request on-time with a note that the evidence will follow.  Original documents are preferred.

What if my circumstances are highly sensitive?

Submit your supporting evidence attached to the form in a sealed envelope addressed to the Panel Chair and clearly marked ‘Confidential: from (name) Re: Extenuating Circumstances’. The Chair will inform the Panel that confidential evidence has been received and give his/her opinion on the seriousness and relevance of the evidence, but will not disclose what it is.

Where do I submit my deferral request?

Undergraduate students submit exam deferrals to Student & Academic Services in Gateway House and coursework and faculty based tests (such as phase tests) to your Faculty Office. 

Students on taught postgraduate programmes submit any requests to their Faculty Office.

Research students affected by personal circumstances would need to follow the procedures set out in the Research Regulations for either extension or interruption of registration.

If I apply, will a deferral automatically be granted?

No.  All deferral requests have to be considered by a panel.  There is strict criteria to qualify for deferral in order to ensure fairness and prevent abuse of this provision to obtain an unfair advantage.  If the evidence is insufficient or the circumstances do not meet the requirements set out in Chapter 5 of the General Regulations, or the application is made out-of-time, the deferral request will be denied.

Is it ok if I apply late?

NO. It is extremely important that you submit your Extenuating Circumstances application by the required deadline. The University sets strict deadlines which you must meet to get your application considered. If you submit late, the University will not accept your application and you will miss out on applying for deferrals.

What happens if my deferral request is denied?

The decision of the Panel shall be final, except in the event that you have grounds to appeal.  There are only two grounds to appeal: 

• There is new and relevant evidence which could not be provided in the first instance.
• The Panel did not comply with procedures set out in Chapter 5 of the General Regulations

Appeals must be submitted in writing, to the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer (via Gateway House reception) within 10 working days of the Panel decision. Appeals regarding exams are considered by the Director of Academic & Student Services.  Appeals regarding coursework are considered by the Academic Board Panel.  This decision will be final.

If the assessment is not deferred then you will be expected to attend the exam or submit the assignment as scheduled.  If you fail to attend an exam this will receive 0.  If you submit an assignment up to 14 days late it will be marked but the mark will be capped at the pass mark.  If you submit more than 14 days late it will receive 0.  

If the assessment is an essential component of the module, or leads to a fail in that module, then you may have to take a re-sit exam and/or re-submit coursework.  There are limited opportunities to take re-assessments so if you do not have sufficient opportunities to re-take the failed module then you will be unable to continue on the course, but you may have attained enough credits to take a lower exit award.  Ask your Faculty Advice Centre for clarification.  

When would the assessment be deferred until?

The assessment must be taken at the next available opportunity.  This is usually within the same academic year, and after the other scheduled assessments have finished, but this can vary.  For clarification, ask your Faculty Advice Centre.

Will deferring mean I cannot progress into the next academic year?

Usually deferred assessments take place within the same academic year, for example if a May exam is deferred to August this will allow the marks to be released in time to progress into the next year in September.  However, this is assuming the deferred exam passes, if not, then a re-sit may be required and this is likely to delay progression.  Furthermore, there are exceptions where the next assessment opportunity is not available within the same academic session (e.g. placements) and in those cases progression will be delayed.  

Ask your Faculty Advice Centre for clarification.

Will deferring delay my graduation?

If you are a final year student a deferral is likely to delay your graduation.  Deferred assessments usually take place after the other scheduled assessments so if you have a deferred assessment in August, you won’t graduate in July, but in the following January.  

Ask your Faculty Advice Centre for clarification.

When will I find out the panel’s decision?

You can ask your Faculty Advice Centre for the date of the next coursework deferral panel being convened.  For exam deferrals, you can enquire in the Academic & Student Services reception in Gateway House.  You will be notified by email or letter.

Can I change my mind later?

No. Once a deferral is granted, it cannot be undone.  Therefore if you apply to defer an exam but don’t find out the decision before the exam, you could sit the exam, and you may feel the exam went well and may no longer wish to defer, but if you then find out the deferral was granted, the exam you have taken will not count so you will have to take it again.

If you miss the deadline to defer and realise after the results are released that your performance was impaired, it will be too late to apply for deferral.

Where can I find DMU’s deferral policy?

See Chapter 5 of the General Regulations

Can I get help with my deferral?

Yes.  DSU Advice can give advice and help you prepare your deferral request. 

We can help with advice about deferrals, extensions and Extenuating Circumstances applications. We can check your form, give advice as to your statement and tell you what sort of evidence to submit. You should attach any written evidence you have which supports your case to your form. Make sure that the paperwork you include is relevant and crucial to your case.