Academic Development and Quality Enhancement

Exceptional Circumstances Claims 2017/18

As students go through the process of examination and assessment, the University recognises that there may be sudden, unforeseen and temporary circumstances which affect performance in assessment. We have a procedure for managing how the impact of these circumstances can be taken into consideration. The FAQs below have been compiled to help students understand the exceptional circumstances claims process.  To see the University's regulations on exceptional circumstances, please refer to Regulations 1.7 and 2.7 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook 2016-17 [PDF 1.55MB]

An exceptional circumstances claim can be submitted as a result of the following assessment situations:

  • Late submission of assessment
  • Non-submission of assessment
  • Absence from an in-person assessment (examination or test)
  • Impaired performance in an assessment submitted on time and/or in-person assessment (examination) taken on scheduled date, were the assessment performance is seriously and unexpectedly impaired
  • Forthcoming absence from in-person assessment, an anticipated non-submission or claim for late submission, where evidence is compelling.

All claims and supporting evidence must be submitted online via Sussex Direct.  The evidence must confirm that the circumstances were sudden, unforeseen and temporary at the time of the assessment deadline or scheduled examination date. Claims should be submitted within 7 days of the first assessment deadline and the evidence should be submitted within 21 days of the first assessment deadline. Evidence which is submitted late should be sent to mec.chair@sussex.ac.uk if it is not possible to upload to the claim.  Claims cannot be considered until the evidence has been uploaded.

It may be helpful to talk to a Student Life Advisor in the Student Life Centre.  They can provide non-academic advice, welfare support and information regarding support available on campus and in the local area:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/studentlifecentre/

 There is also a glossary to support your reading of the FAQs.

Section 1: Making an exceptional circumstances claim

1. What is an exceptional circumstances claim?

An exceptional circumstances claim can be submitted when sudden, unforeseen and temporary conditions or events significantly affect your performance in assessment/s. The University will consider your claim which may result in you being given another assessment opportunity, or having a late penalty removed, enabling you to demonstrate your academic potential in the affected assessment/s.

You can make an evidenced claim if sudden, unforeseen and temporary conditions or events have led to the following circumstances. In each instance, a specific type of claim must be submitted:

  • late submission - you have submitted late, within the permissible lateness period
  • non-submission - you have not been able to submit an assessment
  • absence - you are not able to attend an in-person assessment (examination or test)
  • impairment - you have submitted an assessment on time, or taken a scheduled exam, but your performance in the assessment is seriously and unexpectedly impaired
  • forthcoming claim - you anticipate being absent from a scheduled exam, or you exceptionally anticipate that you will be unable to submit an assessment, or will have to submit it late

Assessments cannot be submitted more than 7 days late.

You must submit evidence to support your exceptional circumstances claim. Your claim will not be considered until evidence has been uploaded. See Question 5(a) below for information on the sort of evidence that should be submitted with your claim.

The following are examples of claims which are likely to be accepted provided that the evidence is appropriate (see Q5(a) for examples of appropriate evidence):

  • Sudden and unforeseen physical or mental illness that hinders your academic performance in assessment
  • Bereavement of a close relative or significant other
  • Exacerbation of an ongoing registered medical condition

However, the following are exapmles of claims which are not accepted (see Q5(a) for further details):

  • Technology failures, such as loss of computer files
  • Jury service
  • Holiday arrangements/wedding arrangements*
  • Minor illness/ailment

The DoSE may exceptionally consider an application for you to defer one examination within the duration of your degree course, in order to attend a significant event, for example, a wedding of a close relative.  An application may only be made for an exam scheduled in A1 or A2 and will result in a sit of the resit mode being given in the summer vacation assessment period.  The application must be made within one week of the examination schedule being published.  Such applications will not be taken into consideration in the production of the examination timetable.  This will be a sit of the resit mode.  

Q5(a) sets out in more detail the sorts of claims that might be accepted, rejected or be considered to be inadmissible.

2. Can an exceptional circumstances claim be submitted for a minor illness?

The exceptional circumstances claims process is not intended to be used for minor illnesses or upsets associated with daily life. It is your responsibility to maintain your health and well-being, which includes registering with a GP (on campus at the Health Centre or local GP practices) and/or gaining access to other appropriate services. The University offers lots of support services for students who are struggling with their studies or with personal issues. Question 12 below outlines who you can contact for advice and support if you have personal or academic concerns. Please also see the support for students webpage for further information.

Also, the process is not intended for general or longer term issues related to health and/or well-being which may impact on attendance and engagement in your course of study. Section 2 of this document outlines how the exceptional circumstances process should be used by students with long term conditions. If you are suffering from long term issues, you should register with the Student Support Unit, as they will be able to implement long term assistance to help you demonstrate your academic potential. For more information on what the Student Support Unit is and what they do, please refer to the glossary below or visit the support for students webpage.

You are not required to submit a claim to notify or explain absences from scheduled teaching. However, you should speak to your tutors about any absences from scheduled teaching so that you can keep up with your course, and absences of 6 days or more should be reported to your School Office. Schools monitor attendance and you can be withdrawn from your course if your attendance is unsatisfactory.

3. Can an exceptional circumstances claim be submitted because the circumstances of someone close to me have impacted on my assessment?

Yes, if the circumstances of someone close to you or someone dependent upon you meet the criteria of sudden, temporary and unforeseen and impact on your assessment.  You will need to demonstrate how the person close to you has experienced sudden, temporary and unforeseen circumstances that have required you to take on a carer role. For example, your mother needs to have an operation and you have had to take time away from your studies to look after your siblings for her or take time out to provide carer support following discharge from hospital. In these circumstances you could provide the letter from the hospital confirming the date of the operation/discharge to demonstrate that this coincided with the original assessment deadline (usually within 3 days).

4a. How do I submit an exceptional circumstances claim?

You need to log in to your Sussex Direct account and click on the ‘Study’ tab, followed by the ‘Exceptional circumstances’ tab in the drop down menu. Once you are on this page you can create a new claim by clicking on the new claim button in the top right hand corner. As you begin your claim, you will be provided with instructions on how to complete it. Please ensure you click on the ‘submit’ button in order for your claim to be considered. If you have trouble accessing the online claim you should go to your School Office or make an appointment with a Student Life Advisor on Sussex Direct for advice on the process, although members of staff cannot complete the claim for you.

Regulations about exceptional circumstances claims are set out in Regulation 2.7.6 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

4b. Is it possible to make an exceptional circumstances claim offline?

You must use the online process to make a claim and to submit the scanned evidence electronically. You can access a computer on campus; Shawcross and the Library have numerous computers. These buildings can be located on the campus map.

4c. Is an exceptional circumstances claim confidential?

Your claim will be considered by a designated member of staff. Your Academic Advisor and your tutors will not see the details of any claim you have made or be aware that you have made a claim. The School Director of Student Experience (DoSE) will be able to ‘view’ all claims within the School, so that they can help support you in your studies.  (For a definition of the Director of Student Experience role, please refer to the glossary).  The DoSE will be supported by an administrative member of staff who will also have access to view all claims made for the School.  This means that two members of staff within the School will have access to view claims.  You should note that access to view the claims is protected by the Data Protection Act and that the details of claims will not be shared within the School.  Some more complex cases, or claims where evidence is less clear, will be discussed with the Chair of the University Teaching and Learning Committee in confidence (for an explanation of the University Teaching and Learning Committee role in relation to claims, please refer to the glossary) .   The Student Support Unit (SSU) will be notified of your claim if it is considered appropriate, as Reasonable Adjustments to support you in your learning and assessment may also be appropriate. If you contact the SSU they provide a confidential, professional service.

5a. What sort of evidence do I need to provide?

You will need to provide a medical certificate or other documentary evidence to support your claim. Claims cannot be considered until the evidence has been uploaded.

Regulation 2.7.6 in the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook sets out the procedures for an exceptional circumstances claim.

Examples of acceptable evidence include:

  1. Medical certificate from a GP surgery or hospital with dates of consultation and diagnosis
  2. Death certificate of a close relative or someone you are close to
  3. In the absence of a death certificate a letter from a relative or another person external to the University who is able to confirm your relationship to the deceased (the person must be a householder and provide contact details), or an order of service (where applicable) will be acceptable
  4. Letter from a Counsellor (employed by the local NHS or otherwise HCPC registered) confirming a treatment programme is in place (Note: the Counsellor has discretion to not provide a letter, for example, where a treatment programme has not been approved or has not started).
  5. Letter from Planning, Governance and Compliance Office or the Director for the Student Experience confirming a case of sexual violence or harassment or other similar circumstance where a letter from a GP or the police is not available.  In addition, a letter from a parent or organisation such as Rape Crisis would be considered.
  6. Hospital admissions report/appointment letter verifying the circumstances and timing
  7. Crime statement verifying the circumstances and timing
  8. A letter from SSU confirming that Reasonable Adjustments were not yet in place or in need of revision due to acute flare up of a long term stable condition such as asthma. For the latter a GP certificate would constitute evidence if the condition was usually stable. A claim may be rejected if a student fails to register with SSU for support as multiple claims cannot be made for a period of instability of a long term condition that should have been managed by a Reasonable Adjustment
  9. A report from the Student Records and Systems Office confirming the circumstances of an individual student during an invigilated examination, for example, illness

Examples of rejected claims and evidence (an opportunity to submit additional evidence will be given):

  1. Student indicates an acute medical condition but no medical evidence is submitted or medical certificate lacks detail to support claim
  2. ‘Retrospective’ medical note - consultation dates do not confirm that a consultation took place at the time of the assessment and therefore do not support the claim
  3. Long term events and conditions which have already been claimed for and Student Support Unit has offered to review and/or consider reasonable adjustments

Examples of inadmissible cases and evidence (no further opportunity to submit evidence will be given):

  1. Circumstances that you could have reasonably foreseen or prevented (such as suspension, intoxication or conviction for illegal activity)
  2. Minor illness or ailment (cold, minor allergy)
  3. Holiday arrangements
  4. Wedding arrangements*
  5. Financial issues (including employment or visa related issues)
  6. Religious observance/competitive sporting event/work placement. Please note that it is your responsibility to notify your School’s Director of Student Experience (DoSE) of any such commitments at the beginning of the year. This will enable the University to endeavour to schedule examinations so that they do not clash with your commitment (where this has been approved by the DoSE). Where it is not possible to schedule the examination to avoid a clash, you will be given a sit for an uncapped mark of the resit mode in the summer vacation assessment period.  Regulation 2.3.2 sets out the procedure.
  7. Personal computer problem, theft/loss, data loss and/or printer problems (students should ensure that work is backed up separately). 
  8. Jury service.  Please note that students can claim exemption from Jury Service due to University commitments. If you do wish to undertake jury service you will need to temporarily withdraw from your course and will not be able to claim for ‘Exceptional Circumstances’.
  9.  School administrative error (student to seek appropriate solution with the School or to refer to the appeals process)
  10. Any supporting letters must:
  • be on headed paper
  • be signed and dated
  • contain the full contact details of the person providing the supporting information

*The DoSE may exceptionally consider an application for you to defer one examination within the duration of your degree course, in order to attend a significant event, for example, a wedding of a close relative.  An application may only be made for an exam scheduled in the mid-year or end of year assessment period and will result in a sit of the resit mode being given in the summer vacation assessment period.  The application must be made within one week of the examination schedule being published.  Such applications will not be taken into consideration in the production of the examination timetable.  This will be a sit of the resit mode.

Common reasons for rejection of a claim include:

  • No evidence uploaded
  • Dates on evidence do not correspond to assessment date in the claim
  • Ongoing condition (not an exacerbation) - therefore Reasonable Adjustments should be considered instead of an exceptional circumstances claim
  • No specified consultation date on medical evidence
  • Inadmissible claims which are not covered by regulations - IT issues, visas/BRP, missed exams due to changes and/or other cohort exam issues

If evidence is not written in English, the University will undertake to translate this into English.

If a GP's note is provided as evidence, it must be obtained on or close to the day of the assessment deadline/examination (usually within 3 days if this is possible). It must be dated, and the dates of certificated illness must clearly relate to the deadline/timing of the assessment/s in question and not the date of a late submission. The dates are particularly important as exceptional circumstances are not about the severity of the impact of the circumstances on your general well-being but only on the ability to perform in specific module assessment/s.

Three outcomes are possible when you submit an exceptional circumstances claim. Your evidence may be: 'accepted', 'rejected as inadmissible' (not accepted as valid, such as loss of computer files) or 'rejected insufficient'. If your evidence is rejected because it is considered insufficient, you can submit additional evidence within a further 21 days (provided that there is sufficient time for it to be considered before the Progression and Award Board meets). For a definition of the Progression and Award Board please refer to the glossary. Any additional evidence should be sent via email to mailto:mec.chair@sussex.ac.uk, where it is not possible to upload it to the claim.  Claims that are ‘inadmissible’ cannot be challenged.

5b. Where can I scan my evidence?

A scanner is available in the Shawcross building. This building can be located on the campus map. You can use this facility to scan evidence to support your claim. You will need to save the document to your workspace and then upload it using the ‘add to exceptional circumstances claim: evidence’ box on the form in Sussex Direct, as instructed when making a claim.

6. What should I say in the student statement to support an exceptional circumstances claim?

Your statement needs to focus on two things. Firstly, how the circumstances are sudden, unforeseen and temporary. Secondly, you should focus on how the circumstances have significantly impacted on the assessments you are submitting the claim for. It is important to write in a clear and concise way. You should not request a particular outcome, for example an extended deadline or a repeat stage.

7. When do I need to submit my exceptional circumstances claim by in order for it to be considered?

If you are making a claim after an assessment, your claim should be submitted within 7 days of the first assessment deadline and the supporting evidence should be submitted within 21 days of the first assessment deadline. Claims cannot be considered until the supporting evidence has been uploaded. A claim is on time when the claim and evidence are submitted within the above dates.

A late claim may be submitted with an explanation for the lateness. Evidence that is submitted late should be sent via email to mec.chair@sussex.ac.uk  where it is not possible to upload it to the claim.

You are advised to submit your claim as soon as possible after an assessment, as in some cases the deadline to submit a claim may be shortened. This is because at certain times of the year the Progression and Award Board will meet shortly after assessment deadlines. Therefore, you may not have the full 7 and 21 days to submit your claim and evidence.  The deadline for claims to be submitted will be published in a banner on the on-line claim form and will be available from your School Office or the Student Life Centre. Any claims that are not completed in time for the relevant Progression and Award Board cannot be considered through the exceptional circumstances claims process and will be rejected. Claims like this will have to be resubmitted as an appeal. (Please see flowcharts 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) which set out the exceptional circumstances claims process.  These are available under the 'further exceptional circumstances information' tab.)

You do not have to wait until an assessment has passed before making a claim for a known absence, for example, if you have an operation scheduled, but you must ensure that the period of absence is covered by the evidence supplied. You can also make a claim in advance for a non-submission or late submission in circumstances like this, but you would normally be expected to submit early unless the relevant teaching was scheduled close to the time of the operation.  However, you must wait until after you have taken an assessment to claim for serious and unexpected impairment.

No changes can be made to a claim once it has been submitted and a decision made but additional evidence can be added before a decision is made or where an ‘insufficient evidence’ decision has been made.

A claim can only be submitted for assessments scheduled during the current academic year.

8. What will happen if I fail to submit my assessment when I have already made an accepted late claim?

In these circumstances the claim form will automatically update to reflect the new circumstance. If your claim was accepted for lateness your claim will now be accepted for a non-submission and the relevant outcomes for excused non-submissions will now apply instead (please see Q10).

9. Who will decide the outcome of my exceptional circumstances claim?

All claims are considered by a designated member of staff (see Question 4(c) above). If the claim is complex and they are unable to reach a decision, the claim will be referred to the Chair of the Exceptional Circumstances Claims Sub-Committee. The member of staff and the Chair only decide whether or not to accept the evidence. It is the Progression and Award Board that decides whether or not to offer a sit of the assessment. However, accepting a claim for a lateness penalty will result in the penalty being waived.

(Please see flowcharts 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) which set out the exceptional circumstances claims process.  These are available under the ‘further exceptional circumstances’ tab.)

10. What are the possible outcomes of a successful exceptional circumstances claim?

(a) Your claim is accepted for late submission

A late penalty will be removed for work submitted up to 7 days late. The penalty will be removed once the evidence has been accepted and the mark will be recorded.

(b) Your claim is accepted for non-submission, absence or impairment

The Progression and Award Board can use its discretion to offer an uncapped ‘sit’ of the assessment in the summer vacation assessment period (this will be a sit of the resit mode). The mark you achieve on the ‘sit’ will be weighted in proportion with the accepted exceptional circumstances. For example, if you were absent from an unseen exam weighted at 70% of the module assessment, the Progression and Award Board will usually to offer a ‘sit’ weighted at 70%. The Progression and Award Board can also use its discretion to not offer a uncapped ‘sit’ for a module. They may decide to do this because the mark you received in the assessment that you have claimed exceptional circumstances for was consistent with your performance in other modules. For example, you may have scored an average of 65 on assessments and the assessment you have accepted exceptional circumstances for has also scored 65. This does not question the legitimacy of the accepted exceptional circumstances claim. Instead, it is preferred not to assess students unnecessarily.

If you take the ‘sit’, the marks from this will replace the marks achieved in the original assessment, even where a lower mark is achieved. If you opt not to take the ‘sit’ then the original mark will remain.

c) Can I challenge the decision not to offer a Sit?

If you are unhappy with the Progression and Award Board’s decisions, you may submit an appeal against the decision. In most cases this will result in a sit being given. Guidance on making an appeal clarifies that there can be no appeal against an academic decision, and sets out the criteria under which you may make an appeal.

11. How will I be notified of the outcome of my exceptional circumstances claim?

You will be sent an automatic email once a decision has been made about your claim. A sample of the automatic emails that may be sent to you are available under the 'further exceptional circumstances information' tab.

In most cases, if the evidence has been accepted the outcome of a claim will also be shown on your Sussex Direct as a code (for example, XNS for an excused non-submission). However, if you have submitted a claim for impairment and it is successful, you will be notified by email and it will not appear as a code on Sussex Direct.

In certain cases, you may receive an email asking you to submit additional evidence (which must be supplied within 21 days of the date of the email). In some circumstances, the Student Support Unit (SSU) will be informed so that any future support can be considered.

If the Progression and Award Board decides to offer you an uncapped sit, this will be recorded on Sussex Direct when results are published.

12. Can I make repeated exceptional circumstances claims for the same circumstances if they are ongoing?

Repeated claims for the same circumstances are not usually allowed if the period between the first claim and any subsequent claim is longer than 3 weeks (see section 2 below for information on using exceptional circumstances claims in circumstances that are on-going). For unresolved, long term health and well-being issues, you are expected to access support, including professional medical help. If your claim indicates circumstances which may be ongoing, your claim will be forwarded to the Student Support Unit (SSU) who will email you to advise on available sources of support.

13. Who should I speak to if I have concerns about my circumstances or the exceptional circumstances claims process?

If you are concerned about your academic progress it is important that you contact your Academic Advisor without delay to discuss any additional support that may be available.

You may also contact the School Director of Student Experience (DoSE) to discuss support that may be available to help you with your studies. The DoSE has access to ‘view’ all claims for the School and they may contact you to arrange a meeting.

The Student Life Advisors have information about specialist services that may be able to help you with any difficulties you are experiencing. Student Life Advisors offer general guidance on the claims process and may help you to understand any forms you need to complete and relevant University processes. However, Student Life Advisors cannot fill out the exceptional circumstances claim for you or give you an indication of the possible outcome of any claim you make.

You are encouraged to refer yourself to campus services. These include the Counselling Service, who, for example, offer help with drug and alcohol-related issues. The Students’ Union Advocates can support you if you feel you need to make a complaint about the University; they are independent so all information will be held in confidence. The Student Support Unit can provide specialist advice if you have a disability or mental health issues.

14. What should I do if I made a claim in advance that I no longer want to be considered?

If you have made a claim in advance of an assessment and you no longer want the claim to be considered, please delete it via the claim form on Sussex Direct. A claim can be deleted provided a decision has not been made.

15. Will I receive confirmation that my claim has been submitted?

You will receive a confirmation email when your claim is submitted. If you have not received this confirmation email, please ensure you press the ‘submit’ button on the claim form in Sussex Direct.

16. One to One review meeting with the Director of Student Experience

The Director of Student Experience (DoSE) will invite you to a one-to one review meeting if you submit an exceptional circumstances claim for more than four assessments per year.  The meeting will focus on attendance and engagement with assessment and is intended to support you to continue with your studies and encourage you to engage with the support services available at the University.  In cases where a claim for more than four assessments has been made, no decision will be made beyond the fourth assessment until a one-to-one review meeting has been held.  Following the meeting, a recommendation regarding the claim will be made to the designated officer so that a claim decision is made in time for the Progression and Award Board. The DoSE will report to the School Student Progress Committee on the outcome of one-to-one review meetings held.

17. What if I have problems on a study abroad year?

To see the University’s regulations regarding exceptional circumstances during a study abroad/placement, refer to Regulation 2.7.7 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

If you are studying at a different institution, it is your responsibility to find out the regulations that are in place to support you at the host institution if you miss submission deadlines or are absent from assessments. It will not be possible to submit a claim for exceptional circumstances via the University of Sussex process, so you should contact your host institution for advice. Where you have not been given an opportunity to retrieve the credits at the host University, you should contact the Sussex Study Abroad Office. If your circumstances prevent you from retrieving your situation prior to the completion of the summer vacation assessment period you will be able to transfer to a course without a study abroad year.

18. What if I have problems on a placement year?

You should ask the employer where you are working what their sickness reporting system is, and follow that if you are unable to attend work. If you are absent for more than 6 days in a row you should also tell your School Office. You do not need to make an exceptional circumstances claim to cover short periods of absence. Your assessment will be by portfolio or project, so a claim will only be appropriate if you do not hand in your assessment or if you hand it in late.

19. How do I make an exceptional circumstance claim if I am a student visting Sussex from another university/institution?

Some students at Sussex are visiting from another institution and not registered for an award at the University. For instance, you may be a student studying with us on a year/term abroad, or a student taking some stand-alone modules here.

If you are visiting the University and not registered for an award, you can submit an exceptional circumstances claim for any modules that you are taking via email to mec.chair@sussex.ac.uk. You should summarise the circumstances affecting your performance in assessment, specify which assessment/s are affected and provide evidence. However, the University may only grant the opportunity to take an uncapped resit of an assessment if you have failed a module. Uncapped resits in the summer vacation assessment period will not be granted for modules that have been passed.  An uncapped resit will not be given for any resits that you do not pass in the summer vacation assessment period, as you will have returned to your home institution. For further information please see Regulation 2.7.8 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

back to top

Section 2: Exceptional circumstances claims where circumstances are on-going

Regulations 2.8 in the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook set out the regulations on making exceptional circumstances claims in circumstances that are on-going.

Students with a temporary disability

1. What is a temporary disability?

A ‘temporary disability’ is a sudden illness or injury that may affect assessments for longer periods than would be appropriate to cover with an
exceptional circumstances claim. An example of temporary disability would be a student breaking their arm at the beginning of, or close to, an assessment/ or an assessment period.

2. If I have a temporary disability when should I use an exceptional circumstances claims?

If you have a sudden illness or injury that might affect assessments over a period longer than 3 weeks, you should contact SSU as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not a claim is submitted.

If you sustain a sudden illness or injury that is likely to affect assessments for some time you should first submit a claim for any assessments that have been missed, work submitted late or any assessment submitted on time but unavoidably affected at the last minute. You should then contact the Student Support Unit (SSU) as soon as possible so that Reasonable Adjustments may be considered for upcoming assessments. This could include extensions to deadlines and/or special examination arrangements, for an agreed period.

See Regulation 2.8 in the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook for information regarding reasonable adjustments.

3. If I experience ongoing grief following the death of a close family member or close friend, is this regarded as a 'temporary disbility'?

In general, the experience of grieving is not regarded as a temporary disability. However, the University does recognise the ongoing impact of the loss of a significant other, close family member or friend and aims to support students through this process.

Should any of your assessments scheduled shortly after the death or funeral be impacted, then you should make a claim for exceptional circumstances. You will need to evidence your claim with a death certificate, order of service or a letter from a householder outlining your relationship and loss. Full contact details of the person sending the letter should be included.

When the experience of grief is ongoing, the University encourages students to inform their School and seek support from University services or professional medical help, should this be required. If your assessments are affected for some time after the death due to the grieving process, you will be required to provide further appropriate evidence for any further claims submitted, for example, a letter from a Counsellor or GP.  Occasionally, depending on the circumstances, the original confirmation of the death may be accepted as evidence to support assessments scheduled up to four weeks after the death.

If the grieving process begins to present characteristics such as anxiety and depression with an ongoing effect that is likely to last 12 months or more, then this is classed as a Disability.  In these circumstances, you would be required to register with the Student Support Unit so that ongoing support can be considered for your studies.

If you miss more than four assessments per year, you will be invited to a review meeting with the Director of Student Experience. The aim of this meeting is to support you with engagement and attendance and/or to signpost you to any University services for further support.

If you find that you need to take time away from your studies to recover from a bereavement, temporary withdrawal is an option that can be considered. You would need to discuss this with your Academic Advisor, Director of Student Experience or a Student Life Advisor. You will be supported through this process.

Students registered with the Student Support Unit (SSU)

The University's regulations on students registered with the SSU submitting an exceptional circumstances claim can be found under Regulation 2.8 in the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

The flowcharts available under the ‘further exceptional circumstances information’ tab outline the University’s processes for students with a registered disability.

1. Can I submit an exceptional circumstances claim if I am registered with the Student Support Unit (SSU)?

If you are registered with the Student Support Unit and have reasonable adjustments to assessment in place to support an existing condition, you can submit an exceptional circumstances claim if you experience sudden events/illness that unexpectedly and temporarily impact on your assessments. You can submit an evidence-based claim which is either related to your known condition, or one which is unrelated, provided it is evidenced and could not have been discussed with the SSU before the assessment deadline/examination date had passed (a claim is appropriate in this case because there is no process for agreeing Reasonable Adjustments once the assessment deadline has passed). A claim can be made for non-submission, late submission or impairment.  The claim will be considered in the usual manner, but will also be forwarded to the SSU because a sudden event/illness may require a review of reasonable adjustments that are already in place.

You will be invited to a review meeting, if it appears that the Exceptional Circumstances Claims process is being used in a situation where Reasonable Adjustments (RAs) to assessment would be more appropriate, or where a revision of the agreed RAs to assessment may be appropriate.  The meeting will be with the Chair of the University Reasonable Adjustment Panel.  However, a RA to assessment will only be considered if you are registered with SSU.  The Director of Student Experience would normally be included in any such meeting.

2. Can I submit an exceptional circumstances claim if I have an extension to a deadline approved by the DoSE (following an application from the Student Support Unit (SSU)?

Yes. You may submit a claim for non-submission or impairment if you have an extended deadline.  An extended deadline, up to 7 days beyond the cohort deadline, may be approved by the School DoSE following an application from the SSU. Extended deadlines must be applied for via SSU as part of your Learning Support Plan. An extended deadline cannot be approved later than 15 working days before the cohort deadline. If you are unable to complete your assessment by your extended deadline, you may be able to submit within the published lateness period, which is normally 7 days. This means that you may be able to submit 14 days after the cohort deadline (7 days late plus 7 days as a result of your extended deadline).

These regulations apply to all students registered with the SSU (if you have an extended deadline approved by the DoSE and if you do not):

  • You do not need to submit a late submission exceptional circumstances claim if you submit your assessment within the permissible lateness period.
  • No late submission penalty will be incurred for students registered with the SSU.
  • The standard regulations apply in relation to re-submission of an assessment (after the cohort deadline or the individual extended deadline). Therefore, it is not possible to re-submit during the late submission period once a submission has already been made by the deadline published on your Sussex Direct web pages.  
  • The evidence that you submit to support your claim must relate to the assessment deadline published on your Sussex Direct web pages, not the late submission deadline.
  • Medical evidence should refer to a consultation at the time of your published assessment deadline (usually within 3 days).
  • Submission of an assessment is not possible after the late submission period.
  • You may make an exceptional circumstances claim for a non-submission if you are unable to submit your assessment by the late submission deadline.
  • A claim can be made for exceptional circumstances for an ongoing condition which is known to the Student Support Unit or for unrelated circumstances, provided that the evidence confirms a sudden, temporary and unforeseen exacerbation/unrelated circumstance in relation to the assessment deadline published on Sussex Direct.  

 

Students with long term conditions not registered with the student Support Unit (SSU)

1. What if I have not registered a known condition with the SSU?

You may have decided not to register with the SSU as your long-term condition is generally stable and no support is required (e.g. asthma). A claim may only be submitted in the event of a ‘sudden, unforeseen and temporary’ exacerbation/flare-up of the condition affecting specific assessments. In each case, the claim may be accepted and then forwarded to the SSU for future support. If you decide not to register with the SSU, an exceptional circumstances claim may be rejected if the circumstances are not a ‘sudden, unforeseen and temporary’ exacerbation/flare-up.

2. What if I have a recently diagnosed longer-term condition?

If you receive a diagnosis of a long term condition after your arrival at University, you can submit a claim if the diagnosis confirms that symptoms associated with the condition have suddenly and unexpectedly affected your assessments. If the claim is accepted, it will be forwarded to the SSU and you should discuss any future support you require with the SSU rather than make repeated exceptional circumstances claims.

back to top

Glossary

Director of Student Experience (DoSE) – Each School has a designated DoSE. They have oversight of the student experience within the School which includes oversight of academic advising.  The DoSE  will have access to view all exceptional circumstances claims so that they can help support you in your studies.

Director of Teaching and Learning (DTL) – Each School has a designated DTL. They have oversight for academic matters within the School. 

University Teaching and Learning Committee - The University Teaching and Learning Committee has oversight of the operation of processes related to exceptional circumstances, including processes for determining individual cases that raise issues of case law, and monitoring the consistency of decision-making. The committee is chaired by the Pro Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, with membership including the Directors of Teaching and Learning, the Director for the Student Experience and the University of Sussex Students’ Union Welfare and Education Officers. The Committee is also attended by the Student Support Unit Manager.

Progression and Award Board (PAB) - The Progression and Award Board (PAB) reviews student academic performance in assessment and considers candidates for progression to the next stage of their course, and for award. The PAB decides whether students will be given a sit/resit as a result of a successful exceptional circumstances claim.

Resit Opportunity - A resit is an opportunity to retrieve an initial fail without repeating a module. Resit marks are capped at 40% on modules at levels 3-6 and at 50% on modules at level 7.

Sit Opportunity - A Sit is an opportunity to take an assessment ‘as if for the first time’. A Sit may be offered by a PAB due to an accepted exceptional circumstances claim. ‘Sit’ marks are not capped at the pass threshold and will be weighted in accordance with the accepted claim.

Student Life Advisors (SLC) - The SLC is based in Bramber House. The SLC provides information, guidance, referrals and resources to enhance student transition to, and progress through, the University. The Student Life Advisors cannot fill out the exceptional circumstances claim for you or give you an indication of the possible outcome of any claim you make but they can give general guidance on the claims process and help you understand the on-line form.

Student Support Unit (SSU) - The SSU is based in Bramber House.  The SSU is a team of specialist advisors who support students with disabilities and mental health issues, students who are on the autistic spectrum and those with long-term conditions including Specific Learning Difficulties (e.g. AD(H)D, dyslexia, dyspraxia). More information can be found at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/studentsupport/.

 back to top