Chapter 15 - Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement

Download the PDF version of the Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement procedure‌.

This Code should be considered when there is unsatisfactory progress or engagement on the part of a student. Staff should also consider whether the difficulties the student is having may mean that addressing problems under a different procedure may be more appropriate. As such, staff should also consider consulting the following:

If a College believes, at any point throughout this procedure, that it may be appropriate to refer a student to one of the procedures listed above these should initially take precedence over this Code. If a student is referred to one of the procedures above, action under this Code will be suspended. For those instances where Health Wellbeing and Support for Study Procedures are enacted, students will receive appropriate support for the affected areas of academic work. If further progress or engagement issues should arise subsequently which are not related to those difficulties already being addressed by the Health Wellbeing and Support for Study Procedures, these should be handled under the Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement procedure.

For further advice on which procedure should be applied, Colleges may contact;

- The Student Cases Office on 01392 722202 or at studentcasesmail@exeter.ac.uk.

- The Faculty Office on 01392 722675 or at facultyoffice@exeter.ac.uk

Responsibilities: Where reference is made to the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College1 in this document, unless otherwise specified, they may delegate their authority to the Associate Dean (Education) or the Associate Dean (Research and Knowledge Transfer)/ College Director of PGR students as relevant. No further delegation of authority may occur unless explicitly specified within this document.

  1. Ordinance VI stipulates that students who are registered on programmes of study leading towards the awards of the University shall be required to be in attendance during academic terms, to be present at classes, and other assigned academic activities including examinations, to attend all key contact points that may be applicable to their status, to submit work when required, and otherwise to fulfill the academic requirements of their programme of study as stipulated by the academic unit concerned. A student who fails to satisfy these requirements may be reported to the Faculty concerned.
    1. This Code of Good Practice sets out the procedures through which unsatisfactory progress or engagement for all students (undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research) should be handled.
    2. A flow diagram outlining the overall process has been provided to support the procedure outlined below and can be found in Annex 8: Process Flow Diagram.
  2. Identifying unsatisfactory progress/ engagement
    1. Taught Students: Unsatisfactory progress or engagement is usually identified when a student has not submitted assessments or engaged in scheduled academic activities.
    2. Graduate Research Students: Unsatisfactory progress or engagement is usually identified when a student has not met the requirements laid out under Responsibilities of Students in the ‘Code of Good Practice - Supervision of Postgraduate Research Students’, as specified in their College’s own Code of Practice or as identified by their supervisory team, and in particular might arise from supervisory termly progress review meetings. Unsatisfactory progress or engagement may be identified when a student’s progress is considered as part as of the Annual Monitoring Review process as set out in the ‘Code of Good Practice: Annual Monitoring Review’, or as a result of action under the ‘Statement of Procedures: Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Students’ such as an application to upgrade from MPhil to Doctoral Study, apply for transfer to continuation status, or apply for an extension to study.
    3. International Tier 4 Students: This policy also applies to all International Students who hold a current Tier 4 visa to study at the University of Exeter. The University will monitor attendance in line with current Home Office guidance to identify Tier 4 students who are failing to attend or adequately engage with their studies. Attendance will be monitored using identified expected points of contact. Expected points of contact are key academic interactions within a programme which provide evidence of attendance and academic engagement. A student holding a Tier 4 visa who is failing to adequately engage with their studies or who has a pattern of consecutive absences will receive (a) warning(s) and a final warning. It is expected that concerns about progress or engagement, including absences will be addressed promptly, and in the case of 10 points of consecutive absence (where fitness to study issues are not involved) students should be referred to this Code of Good Practice for referral to the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College and the Dean of the relevant Faculty.

      Further guidance is available in the ‘Attendance Monitoring Policy for Tier 4 Students'.
  3. Stages
    There are four stages for dealing with unsatisfactory progress or engagement:

    Stage 1 - Warning(s)
    Stage 2 - Final Warning
    Stage 3 - Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College's Action
    Stage 4 - Referral to Dean of Faculty2
  4. Stage 1: Warnings
    1. It is important to pick up concerns about progress or engagement as early as possible and appropriate members of staff in Colleges should warn students informally initially about any concerns with their progress or engagement. Concerns may also arise as a result of other formal review processes such as at an APAC or via the Code of Good Practice: Annual Monitoring Review for PGR students: it is appropriate to decide whether to issue an initial warning following such a review.
    2. Concerns with a student’s progress or engagement may be best picked up in discussion with a member of staff, however, to constitute an initial warning a record must be kept and a copy sent to the student concerned (see Annex 1: Initial Warning Template). The relevant (taught or PGR) support team should issue any warning, however, an initial warning may be issued in the name of a supervisor or personal tutor.A member of staff may raise concerns with the student in person, but in order to initiate the formal process, correspondence must be issued to the student outlining the concerns, required improvements and the steps which may be taken by the College should improvements not be made. 
      In discussion, students should be invited to explain if there were any circumstances, which were unavoidable, which prevented them performing satisfactorily and of which they could not reasonably have informed the College any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the College is unlikely to be able to give due consideration to it later.
      It is not necessary to meet with the student in order to issue an initial warning but the student should be provided with an opportunity for a meeting should they request one. Students should understand that the College may not necessarily excuse the failure which has led to the warning, but will look to ensure that where it might be appropriate for the University to offer extra support to a student, the student is made aware of that. However, should it be determined that the warning is no longer appropriate, a record should be added to the student’s file to this effect.
      Should a student have any concerns about the application of the Code of Good Practice - Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement at this stage they should raise this within ten working days of receipt of the letter, either in person or in writing with the College: the College will ensure that a response is provided.
    3. You may also wish to direct a student towards student support services to address any problems they may have been having which may have contributed towards concerns about their performance or attendance.
    4. Students may also contact the Guild or FXU for students on the Cornwall campuses, for advice should they wish to discuss their warning with someone outside of their College.
  5. Stage 2: Final warning
    1. If concerns about unsatisfactory progress or engagement are not satisfactorily addressed following an initial warning, or if further concerns about the student arise within 12 months of receipt of the initial warning, the student should be should issued with a final warning (see Annex 2: Final Warning Taught Template - Taught; Annex 3: Final Warning PGR Template - Research). Final warnings may be issued by the appropriate Associate Dean or the Director of PGR students or an appropriate deputy. Final Warnings should not be issued by the person who would be responsible for handling the case under Section 6: Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College’s action (Stage 3).
    2. The student will be provided with the opportunity of a meeting, with the member of staff who issued the Final Warning, where they can explain if there are any circumstances, which were unavoidable, and which prevented them from complying with the terms of their initial warning or which led to further unsatisfactory progress/ engagement and of which they could not reasonably have informed the College any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the College is unlikely to be able to give due consideration to it later. Students should understand that the College may not necessarily excuse the failure which has led to the final warning, but will look to ensure that where it might be appropriate for the University to offer extra support to a student, the student is made aware of that.
      Final warning meetings must not be conducted by the person who would be responsible for handling the case under Section 6: Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College’s action (Stage 3). This meeting need not take place before the warning is issued, however, should it be determined that the warning is no longer appropriate, a record should be added to the student’s file to this effect. Should a student have any concerns about the application of the Code of Good Practice - Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement at this stage they should raise this at the time either in person or in writing with the College: the College will ensure that a response is provided. 
    3. A final warning may also be issued to a student as a condition of allowing them to progress (e.g. following failure at an Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee for taught students or if concerns about progress are raised via Code of Good Practice: Annual Monitoring Review for PGR students), providing that a record has previously been kept of prior warnings.
    4. The final warning letter must include details of the unsatisfactory progress or engagement as well as the College’s expectation of improvement, providing clear timeframes within which improvement should be demonstrated. Colleges should further set out the potential consequences if there is no adequate improvement in performance and/or attendance, including reporting to UK Visas and Immigration where appropriate.
    5. Final warnings should be issued early enough to enable further action to be taken in good time. For International Tier 4 visa holders, final warnings may be issued no later than when eight consecutive absences have been recorded. This may mean, for example, giving the student enough time to attend and not miss another contact point, or where there is a reasonable expectation that they can submit any required work.
    6. Colleges should direct a student towards student support services to address any problems they may have been having which may have contributed towards concerns about their performance or attendance.
    7. Students may also contact the Guild or FXU for students on the Cornwall campuses, for advice should they wish to discuss their warning with someone outside of their College.
  6. Stage 3: Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College’s Action
    1. If a student’s progress or engagement remain unsatisfactory following issue of a final warning, or if further concerns about the student’s progress or engagement are picked up within 12 months of receipt of the final warning, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College (PVC) or relevant Associate Dean of College or the Director of Postgraduate Research, will write to the student to invite them to a meeting to let them know that they will be reporting them to the relevant Dean of the Faculty (see Annex 4: PVC's Action Template). This person must not have dealt with the case previously in order that they can form an impartial judgement of the case to date. Students will be invited to explain if there are any circumstances, which were unavoidable, which prevented them from complying with the terms of their final warning and of which they could not reasonably have informed the College any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the College is unlikely to be able to give due consideration to it later. Students should understand that College may not necessarily excuse the failure to comply, but will look to ensure that where it might be appropriate for the University to offer extra support to a student, the student is made aware of that.

      Should a student have any concerns about the application of the Code of Good Practice for Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement at this stage they should raise this within ten working days of receipt of the letter, either in person or in writing with the College: the College will ensure that a response is provided. Should the student choose not to attend the meeting this should not delay reporting them to the relevant Dean of the Faculty.

      Following this meeting and where action is required that involves a recommendation to the Dean of Faculty, the PVC will complete the Student Report Form (Annex 6: Student Report Form) and will send the report form along with all supporting documentation and evidence to the Dean of Faculty via the Faculty Office. A full copy of the report and supporting documentation should be retained within the College. The PVC will then write to the student to confirm the action that has been taken (Annex 5: PVC Action; Meeting Outcome Template).

      Actions which require approval by the Dean of Faculty include recommendations to repeat part of or the entire programme of study, or the requirement to withdraw from the programme and/or the University.

      If the outcome of the meeting does not involve a recommendation to the Dean of Faculty, the PVC may take actions that may include a decision that the case may;

      (a) be referred back to Stage 2 with a warning letter to be reissued with clear expectations laid out which, if unmet, may result in referral to Stage 3 again.

      (b) be held at Stage 3 where any further concerns about progress or engagement which arise within 12 months of the student’s receipt of the outcome of the meeting with the PVC, will result in the student being referred to Stage 4: Dean of Faculty’s Action.

  7. Stage 4: Dean of Faculty’s Action
    1. The Dean of Faculty (or appropriate nominee who is impartial to the case) will either confirm the College’s decision or will reject it. If the College’s recommendation is confirmed, the Dean of Faculty will write to the student, copied to the College and Student Records, to inform them of the outcome (Annex 7: Dean of Faculty's Action: Outcome Template). If the College’s recommendation is rejected, the Dean of Faculty (or nominee) will return the Student Report Form (Annex 6: Student Report Form) to the College and recommend a course of action. That course of action will depend upon the circumstances of each case.
  8. Appeals against Faculty Dean’s Action
    1. A student who wishes to appeal against a decision under 7.1 may do so in accordance with Section 9 of the ‘Procedures Relating to Student Academic Appeals’. In the light of the number of opportunities provided in the Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement procedures for the student to raise previously unknown factors, including any procedural irregularities, and with a view to a speedy resolution, the appeals process will proceed immediately for consideration at Faculty level (described as Stage 2 in the Appeals Procedure).
  9. Timescales
    1. Any initial or final warning, or any recommendations made by the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of College in the student report form (Annex 6: Student Report Form (if upheld by the relevant Dean of Faculty) would remain in force for a period of twelve months (excluding any period of interruption) from receipt of the last warning letter or action of the Faculty Dean, meaning that any further concerns about the progress or engagement of a student who has previously received a warning or who has been subject to Faculty Dean’s action within the last year may be escalated to the next level immediately.
    2. Colleges may choose to employ the system as a monitoring tool for students who repeat parts or all of their programme of study. This means that a College may issue an initial warning as part of the agreement to allow a student to repeat.
  10. Reporting and Monitoring
    1. Colleges must keep records of warnings issued and will supply the Faculty Deans with data on warnings issued upon request.
    2. Faculties maintain a system by which to monitor any Faculty Dean’s Action and report annually to the relevant Faculty Board.

 

Last updated August 2018


1For INTO, the Centre Director shall hold equivalency with the University of Exeter PVC role. The INTO Academic Director shall hold equivalency with the University of Exeter Associate Dean role. 

2Dean of Faculty refers to the Academic Dean for Students; Associate Academic Dean for Students; Dean of Postgraduate Research or the Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research as appropriate.

Annexes

Annex 1: Stage 1: Initial Warning.

Download: Annex 1: Initial Warning Template

Annex 2: Stage 2: Final Warning - Taught Students.

Download: Annex 2: Final Warning Taught Template

Annex 3: Stage 2: Final Warning - PGR students.

Download: Annex 3: Final Warning PGR Template

Annex 4: Stage 3: PVC’s Action - Meeting Request.

Download: Annex 4: PVC's Action Template

Annex 5: Stage 3: PVC’s Action - Meeting Outcome.

Download: Annex 5: PVC Action; Meeting Outcome Template

Annex 6: Stage 3: PVC’s Action - Student Report form.

Download: Annex 6: Student Report Form

Annex 7: Stage 4: Dean of Faculty's Action - Outcome.

Download: Annex 7: Dean of Faculty's Action: Outcome Template

Annex 8: Process Flow Diagram

Download: Annex 8: Process Flow Diagram

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