Chapter 15 - Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement

 

* Coronavirus (COVID-19) information*

Due to staff working remotely, please contact the relevant teams using the email addresses below rather than via telephone. 

FOR PGR students only- Please note: the Dean of Faculty has approved temporary guidance to support implementation of this policy for PGR students to ensure that appropriate alternative arrangements required during this period have been made. Information on the temporary arrangements in place may be consulted here: Doctoral College website. The temporary arrangements will be in place for PGR students until further notice, please ensure you have consulted the latest information available online before taking any action or providing any advice in connection with this policy.

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 Faculty (or delegated School) 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 may 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, academic colleagues with concerns about a student’s unsatisfactory attendance or progress should in the first instance contact the relevant (taught or postgraduate research) support team, who may escalate queries as needed to:

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

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

- Postgraduate research programmes: DCQualityDevelopment@exeter.ac.uk

Where the concerns in question point to a matter which the Health Wellbeing and Support for Study Procedures (HWSSP) – Exeter and Penryn Campuses or Fitness to Practise Procedures might be best placed to address please also see the contact points for advice listed in those procedures in the first instance.

- Where there are queries with regard to the monitoring of students with visas please contact the Immigration Compliance team for advice – immigrationcompliance@exeter.ac.uk

Responsibilities: Where reference is made to the Faculty (or delegated School) Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean1 iin this document, unless otherwise specified, they may delegate their authority to the Faculty Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education (APVC-E) or the Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Impact (APVC-RI), Faculty Director of PGR (FDPGR)/ Department Director of DPGR (DDPGR) 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 fulfil 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 (or delegated School) concernedd.
    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 USPE Annex 8 - USPE process flow chart.
  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. Postgraduate 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 ResearchStudents, as specified in the Faculty (or delegated School)’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 theCode of Good Practice: Annual Monitoring Review, or as a result of action under theStatement of Procedures: Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration for Postgraduate 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. Students holding Tier 4/Student visas: This policy also applies to all International Students who hold a Tier 4/ Student visa to study at the University of Exeter. The University will monitor attendance and engagement in line with current Home Office guidance to identify Tier 4/ Student visa holders who are failing to attend or adequately engage with their studies. 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/ Student visa who is failing to meet required engagement levels will receive (a) stage 1 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 non-engagement as defined in the Attendance Monitoring Policy for Tier 4 Students (and where fitness to study issues are not involved) students should be referred to this Code of Good Practice for initial action or escalation of action which may include referral to the Faculty (or delegated School) Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of and the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as relevant.

      Further guidance is available in the Engagement Monitoring Procedure for Tier 4 and Student Visa Holders.
  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 Faculty's Action
    Stage 4 - Referral to Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research2
  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 Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 GoodPractice: Annual Monitoring Reviewfor PGR students: it is appropriate to decide to issue an initial warning following such a review.

      For Tier 4/Student Visa holders, please refer to the ‘Engagement Monitoring for Tier 4 & Student Visa Holders’ for details and time-frames as to when non-engagement may trigger a warning or escalation of action under this policy.
    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 USPE Annex 1 - Stage 1: Initial Warning). 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 Faculty (or delegated School) 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 Faculty (or delegated School) any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the Faculty (or delegated School) 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 Faculty (or delegated School) 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 Faculty (or delegated School): the Faculty (or delegated School) 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 Students’ Guild or the Students’ Union (the SU) for students on the Cornwall campuses for advice should they wish to discuss their warning with someone outside of their Faculty (or delegated School).
  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 (excluding any period of interruption), the student should be issued with a final warning (see USPE Annex 2: Stage 2: Final Warning - Taught Students; USPE Annex 3 - Stage 2: Final warning PGRs). Final warnings may be issued by the appropriate Associate Dean or the Faculty Director of PGR students or an appropriate deputy, as appointed by the appropriate Associate Dean or Faculty Director of PGR students. 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’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 Faculty (or delegated School) any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the Faculty (or delegated School) is unlikely to be able to give due consideration to it later. Students should understand that the Faculty (or delegated School) 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 Faculty'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 Faculty (or delegated School): the Faculty (or delegated School) 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 and/ or engagement as well as the Faculty (or delegated School)’s expectation of improvement, providing clear timeframes within which improvement should be demonstrated. Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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. 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. For Tier 4/Student Visa holders, please refer to the ‘Engagement Monitoring for Tier 4 & Student Visa Holders’ for details and time-frames as to when non-engagement may trigger a warning or escalation of action under this policy.
    6. Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 Students’ Guild or the Students’ Union (the SU) for students on the Cornwall campuses for advice should they wish to discuss their warning with someone outside of their Faculty (or delegated School).
  6. Stage 3: Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of Faculty'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 (excluding any period of interruption), the Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of Faculty (PVC); Associate PVC – Education (APVC-E); Associate PVC – Research & Impact (APVC-R) or the Faculty/Department 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 Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate (see USPE Annex 4 - Stage 3: PVC Action - meeting request). 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 Faculty (or delegated School) any earlier. Students should be made aware that if they choose not to disclose any pertinent information at this stage, the Faculty (or delegated School) is unlikely to be able to give due consideration to it later. Students should understand that Faculty (or delegated School) 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.

      For Tier 4/Student Visa holders, please refer to the ‘Engagement Monitoring for Tier 4 & Student Visa Holders’ for details and time-frames as to when non-engagement may trigger a warning or escalation of action under this policy.

      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 Faculty (or delegated School): the Faculty (or delegated School) will ensure that a response is provided. Should the student choose not to attend the meeting this should not delay reporting them to the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate.

      Following this meeting, where action is required that involves a recommendation to the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate, the PVC will complete the Student Report Form (USPE Annex 6 - Student Report Form) and will send the report form along with all supporting documentation and evidence to the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate2. A full copy of the report and supporting documentation should be retained within the the Faculty (or delegated School). The PVC will then write to the student to confirm the action that has been taken (USPE Annex 5 - Stage 3: PVC meeting outcome).

      Actions which require approval by the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate, 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 for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate, 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’s Action
    1. The Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate (or appropriate nominee who is impartial to the case) will either confirm the Faculty (or delegated School)’s decision or will reject it. If the Faculty (or delegated School)’s recommendation is confirmed, the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate, will write to the student, copied to the Faculty (or delegated School) and Student Records, to inform them of the outcome  (USPE Annex 7 - Deans action outcome). If the Faculty (or delegated School)’s recommendation is rejected, the Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate (or nominee) will return the Student Report Form (USPE Annex 6 - Student Report Form) to the Faculty (or delegated School)and recommend a course of action. That course of action will depend upon the circumstances of each case.
  8. Appeals against 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.
  9. Timescales
    1. Any initial or final warning, or any decisions or recommendations made by the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of Faculty in the student report form (USPE Annex 6 - Student Report Form (if upheld by Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate) 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 Dean for Taught Students or Dean of Postgraduate Research, as appropriate, 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 Dean’s action within the last year may be escalated to the next level immediately.
    2. Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 Faculty (or delegated School) may issue an initial warning as part of the agreement to allow a student to repeat.
  10. Reporting and Monitoring
    1. Faculties (or delegated Schools) must keep records of warnings issued and will supply the relevant Deans with data on warnings issued upon request.
    2. The Taught Faculty Office and the PGR Quality Development team will maintain a system by which to monitor any Dean’s Action and report annually to the Education Board or Board of Postgraduate research, as appropriate.

 

Last reviewed September 2022


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 refers to the Dean for Taught Students; Associate Dean for Taught Students; or Dean of Postgraduate Research as appropriate.

Annexes

Annex 1: Stage 1: Initial Warning.

Download: USPE Annex 1 - Stage 1: Initial Warning

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

Download: USPE Annex 2: Stage 2: Final Warning - Taught Students

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

Download: USPE Annex 3 - Stage 2: Final warning PGRs

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

Download: USPE Annex 4 - Stage 3: PVC Action - meeting request

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

Download: ‌USPE Annex 5 - Stage 3: PVC meeting outcome

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

Download: USPE Annex 6 - Student Report Form

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

Download: USPE Annex 7 - Deans action outcome

Annex 8: Process Flow Diagram

Download: USPE Annex 8 - USPE process flow chart

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