Chapter 10 - Mitigation: Deadline extensions and deferrals

Definitions

Examinations: Assessments undertaken under controlled and timed conditions e.g. exams, tests, presentations etc.

Assignments: Assessments not undertaken under controlled and timed conditions e.g. essays, fieldwork, lab reports etc.

  1. Mitigation
    1. Principles
      1. It is recognised that students can suffer illness or other adverse personal circumstances which affect their ability to complete an examination/assignment. It is also recognised that the University measures students’ actual achievement rather than potential achievement.
      2. If a student is ill or affected by personal circumstances that potentially preclude them from undertaking an examination or submitting an assignment on time, they should submit a mitigation application. This should be submitted no later than one working day following the affected assessment point. 
      3. Students must make a decision on whether to undertake the examination or submit the assignment on time with the knowledge that the mitigation application may or may not be successful. If students feel that their performance will be significantly affected, they should still submit their assignment or sit the examination, unless it is felt that to do so would exacerbate their condition or disrupt the examination for other students. In both cases, students can apply for mitigation. If their mitigation application is unsuccessful and they do not sit the examination, they will automatically receive a mark of zero.
      4. In cases where a student applies for mitigation after they have attempted an assessment, this attempt will be removed from marking. This is following the principle that the student’s performance has been significantly affected so the attempt has been deemed void. In the event that the application is not successful then the assessment will be marked, and will count as the student’s first attempt.
      5. Where there is evidence to suggest that the student was not able to fully engage with procedures (examples are given under 10.4.2), the initial attempt may be marked with the student given the choice between the deferral and their original mark.
      6. An application for mitigation will be considered for:
        1. single occasions of illness
        2. adverse personal circumstances
        3. Relapses/ exacerbations of long term fluctuating conditions/ disabilities.

          Where mitigating circumstances become apparent or where multiple mitigation applications have been submitted during the course of the programme, staff and students should consider use of the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study procedure and Chapter 13 of the Learning and Teaching Handbook; Procedures for the interruption and voluntary withdrawal of taught students. Students should seek clear guidance from their personal tutors, the Student Finance Office, study skills advisers, Wellbeing Services or Penryn/ Truro Accessibility Service, or the Students’ Guild/ FXU.
      7. For students with Individual Learning Plans (ILPs), recommendations for support will be in place in accordance with the guidance provided in Chapter 4 - Assessing students with disabilities. However it is acknowledged that students experiencing long term, fluctuating health conditions/ disabilities may need to apply for mitigation. 
      8. Specific guidance concerning mitigation for Sports Scholars and High Performance Athletes can be found here.
    2. Information for Students
      1. College Handbooks must provide procedures and clear guidance on how students can apply for mitigation. This information should also include details of how these applications will be considered and the implications and likely outcomes of any mitigation application. This guidance should include examples of what circumstances will be considered acceptable, and what evidence the College will require. Examples are attached at Annex E. Handbooks should stress that applications for mitigation are for extraordinary circumstances only and will be rejected if they are not accompanied by appropriate evidence.
    3. The Mitigation Committee
      1. Mitigation Committees must oversee the process by which applications for mitigation are considered. These can be established for discipline areas, for the College or for the campus.
      2. The membership of Mitigation Committees should be appropriately representative as far as possible. They must include qualified and experienced academic/ Professional Services staff.
      3. The Chair of the Mitigation Committee must not be the Chair of an Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.
      4. In the interests of confidentiality the number of members of Mitigation Committees should be kept to a minimum.
      5. Where Mitigation Committees are established at College level it is appropriate to include a representative with experience of the teaching and assessment from each discipline.
      6. One or more members of the committee, usually a senior administrator, should be appointed annually by the committee with delegated responsibility to initially consider all mitigation requests.
      7. Pro-Vice Chancellors and Executive Deans of Colleges should not sit on Mitigation Committees in order that they can consider any appeals arising.
      8. External Examiners and the relevant Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee should have access to the decisions of the Mitigation Committee.
    4. Application for Mitigation
      1. Applications for mitigation should be made prior to the examination or assignment deadline or within one working day. The mitigation process and application form can be accessed under Wellbeing Services.
      2. Late applications for mitigation should only be considered in exceptional circumstances, where there are compelling reasons why the application was not made at the time. Examples may include an unexpected traumatic event, an emerging health condition, the effect of which was not clear at the time of the examination/during completion of the assignment, or a health condition which prevents a student’s ability to understand or engage with the procedures.
      3. Students are responsible for making applications for mitigation to the College delivering the affected module. Where performance is believed to have been affected in modules from more than one College the student must apply separately to each College.
      4. Students may apply for mitigation for more than one module where the same circumstances have affected more than one examination/ assignment. However, students must use the application form and be explicit in detailing:
        1. The circumstances which have affected them.
        2. Which examinations/ assignments have been affected and the module code of each assessment.
        3. How these circumstances have affected them/ their performance.
        4. Evidence which will be supplied to support their application (see Annex E for examples of appropriate evidence).
      5. Students applying for mitigation should submit verifiable and/or independent evidence of the circumstances which have affected their performance. Where ill health has been sufficiently serious to have affected performance, the student must have consulted a medical practitioner or Wellbeing professional and obtained supporting evidence (see Annex E for examples of appropriate evidence).
    5. Consideration of Applications
      1. Mitigation Committees should consider applications in a timely fashion through meetings or through delegating responsibility to a member of the Mitigation Committee, in accordance with the guidance provided in Annex E.
      2. Mitigation committees must be consulted on all non-standard cases.
      3. The consequences for classification of any adjustments will not be a factor in Mitigation Committees’ consideration.
      4. Where an application for mitigation is made on the basis of especially sensitive information this should be treated confidentially and the reasons for the application may be considered by the Chair of the Mitigation Committee only and not shared with the rest of the Committee. Examples of this type of sensitive information include being the victim of a serious personal assault or termination of pregnancy.
      5. The Mitigation Committee may decide that there are no grounds for action because one of the following conditions applies:
        1. The evidence presented does not support the claim that the student may have been affected and no further action is required.
        2. An application was not submitted or was made too late without compelling reasons for why the application was not made at the time of the effect on performance.
      6. Where the Mitigation Committee decides that action is required the following options should be considered the most commonly applicable outcomes:
        1. Examination; Deferral of the examination. This can be decided even where the examination has been attempted if the Mitigation Committee decides that the student may have been effectively incapable of sitting the examination.
        2. Assignment; Permitting an extension to the submission deadline for assignments.
      7. In exceptional circumstances, (see Annex E) where examination deferral or an extension to an assignment deadline are not appropriate, the following may also be considered:
        1. Setting aside the examination/ assignment mark or module mark when considering progression, classification or condonement.
        2. Substitution of a proxy mark for any affected examination/assignment. This is appropriate where there is sufficient evidence of a student’s performance in other examination/assignment so that the Mitigation Committee can have reasonable confidence in the validity of the proxy mark – e.g. by ranked performance in similar examination/assignment in a similar subject. Where a proxy mark was derived largely from the student’s performance in all the other modules in the same year (as opposed to information specific to that or similar modules) it should not exceed the student’s stage average for that year. The substitution of a proxy mark can be problematic however for degrees with professional qualifying status and therefore may not be possible.
      8. The Mitigation Committee must clearly record every decision and the reasons for it. All students should be informed of these decisions as soon as possible.
      9. Decisions of Mitigation Committees must be reported to the Programme/Discipline Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee. These decisions are not then subject to change except where the Programme/Discipline Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee considers that a decision to defer an examination (or assignment) is unnecessary for the purpose of classification, i.e., where the likely outcome of such a deferral will not affect the overall classification.
    6. Appeals
      1. Students have the right to appeal against the decision made by a Mitigation Committee. Such appeals must be submitted within 10 working days of the outcome of the mitigation being communicated to the student and may be made only on the following grounds:
        1. Procedural error or evidence of bias or prejudice.
        2. Evidence of material circumstances which was not available at the time of the original consideration, but ONLY where it was not possible for the student to submit this evidence at the time of the original consideration.
        3. The decision reached is one which no reasonable body, properly directing itself, could have arrived at.
      2. Appeals should not be considered on the following grounds:
        1. Dissatisfaction with the reasonable judgment of the Mitigation Committee.
        2. Late submission of an application for mitigation or late submission of evidence to support an application where there are no compelling grounds for the lateness.
      3. Appeals will be considered through the University’s Student Academic Appeals procedure.
    7. Supporting Documentation:
      Mitigation Supporting Documentation; Process Flow Chart for Staff
      Mitigation Supporting Documentation; Process Flow Chart for Staff and Students
      Mitigation Supporting Evidence Form
      Mitigation Application flow chart

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