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Section 1: How to use this framework

Published for 2022-23


1.1 Introduction1.4 Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data
1.2 Help and Advice1.5 Providing Supporting Evidence
1.3 Who can use this Framework1.6 Other Support Options 

1.1 Introduction

 UCL is committed to providing the support you need in order to make the most out of your studies. The Student Support Framework draws together our main academic support processes under one banner to help you understand the options open to you. The Framework includes the following components:
 

This section: How to Use this Framework helps you find your way around the different support options open to you. It includes:

  • Where to find help and advice    
  • Information about when to use this framework (for example if you are an affiliate, study abroad or placement student)
  • Advice on confidentiality and how UCL will look after your data
  • Information on providing supporting evidence
  • Links to other support options that are available to you.
 The following sections explain how each of the following processes works:
Support process:Use this if:What this covers:
Short-term Illness and other Extenuating CircumstancesYou have a short-term illness, bereavement or other unexpected emergency.‘Extenuating Circumstances’ (often know as ‘ECs’) are events which are sudden, unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond your control and which may affect your performance at summative assessment, such as a serious illness or the death of a close relative. You can submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim to access ‘mitigation’ such as an extension or deferring an assessment to a later date.
Reasonable Adjustments for Disabilities and Long-term ConditionsYou have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition.          UCL can provide longer-term ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ to support your learning and assessment. This includes setting up a ‘SoRA’ (Summary of Reasonable Adjustments) with UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing team.
Academic Adjustments

You need long-term or ongoing support with one or more of the following:

  • You or your partner is pregnant or planning maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • You are a parent or carer
  • You observe religious beliefs or cultural customs
  • You are affected by any form of harassment or discrimination
  • You are affected by traumatic world events such as war or terrorism
  • You are a critical worker (e.g. NHS staff).
Academic Adjustments include long-term reasonable adjustments arranged by your Department if you need additional support with learning, teaching and assessment.
Exam AdjustmentsYou need additional support to sit an online or in-person exam.        Exam Adjustments are specifically for Controlled Condition Exams and Take-Home Papers, and include adjustments such as extra time, rest breaks, a more comfortable chair and specialist equipment. These are available to students with a longer-term disability or health condition, and to students who need shorter-term support e.g. if you are pregnant, or have a broken arm.
Interruption of StudyYou are thinking of taking time out from your studies     .Interruption of Study is for students who wish to take a break from their studies and return at a later date. You can take time out from your studies for a wide range of reasons - you might want to take up an internship or placement, take time out to travel, be planning to have children, or be facing personal challenges which are making it hard to study.
Support to StudyYou are having persistent or ongoing difficulties and UCL’s other support processes are not providing the right level of help.Support to Study aims to help you if you are having significant, persistent, longer-term difficulties and UCL’s normal mechanisms (e.g. Reasonable Adjustments, Extenuating Circumstances, Interruption of Study) are not providing enough support. We will work with you to put together a Support Plan to help you get the most out of your studies.
 The Student Support Framework is just one of the ways in which UCL helps you to get the most out of your time with us:
This Student Support FrameworkYour Personal TutorYour Department
This Student Support Framework explains how you can apply for formal support with your studies such as extensions, reasonable adjustments, or taking time out from your studies.One of your first priorities should be to meet your Personal Tutor. They will help you to get the most out of your studies, and provide support and encouragement during your time with us.Help is also available from members of staff in your UCL department including academic staff and departmental administrators. You can find their contact details on Moodle or in your Student Handbook.
UCL Student Support and WellbeingFAQs and EnquiriesStudents’ Union UCL Advice Service
UCL’s team of expert wellbeing, disability and mental health staff provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space in which you can discuss any issues that may be affecting your ability to study.askUCL is our self-help centre and student enquiry system. It includes a wide range of Frequently Asked Questions. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can log an enquiry.The Students’ Union UCL provides a free, confidential and independent advice service with a trained and experienced team.

1.2 Help and Advice

 

If you have any questions about the processes in this Student Support Framework, there are a number of different people who can help: 

Have a question? askUCL  

  • askUCL is our self-help centre and student enquiry system. It includes a wide range of Frequently Asked Questions or, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can log an enquiry. 

Talk to your Department 

  • Your Personal Tutor is there to support and encourage you throughout your time at UCL. They can help to answer questions about your programme, teaching and assessments. If you are not sure who your Personal Tutor is, please contact your Department. Please note that some departments use a different term such as ‘Academic Mentor’. 

  • Help is also available from other staff in your Department, such as Student Advisers, departmental administrators, your Programme Leader, Departmental Tutor and other academic staff. Each UCL Department is organised differently, so the best place to start is normally your programme’s Moodle site or Student Handbook. These should include contact details for key members of staff. 

  • Your Department also has a named ‘SoRA contact’ who can help if you have any questions about your Summary of Reasonable Adjustments

  • Your ‘Home’ Department and Faculty are normally responsible for providing support. If you are taking any modules in another UCL Department or Faculty, you can also speak to your Module Organiser about the support available locally. 

Make an appointment with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing  

  • UCL Student Support and Wellbeing is a team of expert wellbeing, disability and mental health staff. They provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space in which you can discuss any issues that may be affecting your ability to study. You can make an appointment, attend drop-in sessions or contact them via askUCL.  

  • More information: UCL Student Support and Wellbeing

Talk to the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service 

  • The Students’ Union UCL provides a free, confidential and independent advice service run by a trained and experienced team. They can talk to you about concerns that you might have relating to Extenuating Circumstances, Interruptions, SoRAs, Support to Study and other forms of support. 

  • More information: Students’ Union UCL Advice Service 


1.3 Who can use this Framework

1.3.1 Level of study

 This section explains how the Student Support Framework applies to different groups of students. 
1.The Student Support Framework applies to all UCL Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate students.
2.If you are a Postgraduate Research student, some of the procedures apply to you (for example Summaries of Reasonable Adjustments) but there are also some differences for doctoral level study (e.g. how Interruption of Study works). The Doctoral School website explains the support available to you. 
3.UCL Short Course Learners may be eligible for some forms of support through these procedures – please check your course literature for details. 

1.3.2 Home and Teaching Departments

1.Your ‘Home’ Department and Faculty are normally responsible for providing support and approving requests made through this Framework. 
2.If you are taking any modules in another UCL Department or Faculty, your ‘Teaching’ Department may need to approve some forms of support to make sure adjustments are possible and appropriate in the local context. 
3.Throughout this Framework, when you see the word ‘Department’ this also covers local variations such as divisions, institutes, short course providers etc. 

1.3.3 Study abroad programmes 

1.If you are on a Study Abroad programme, UCL has overall responsibility for your support, but you should also be able to access support at your Teaching Institution.  
2.

Your Teaching Institution should provide the following (although please note that they may use different terminology):

  • Short-term Extenuating Circumstances mitigations such as a coursework extension or condoned late submission
  • Reasonable Adjustments for disabled students
  • Exam Adjustments
  • Academic Adjustments 
3.

You should use UCL’s regulations to apply for:

  • Any Extenuating Circumstances mitigation which might affect your UCL progression, award and/ or classification, such as deferrals 
  • An Interruption of Study 
  • A Support Plan or Support to Study Panel. 
4.Before you go on Study Abroad, you are encouraged to contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to discuss your plans. If you have a disability or long-term condition, your SSW adviser can also liaise with your Teaching Institution to put reasonable adjustments in place for you, and can discuss whether you will continue to engage with any support at UCL. 

1.3.4 Affiliate students 

1.If you are an incoming Affiliate or Intercollegiate student, your Home Institution normally has overall responsibility for your support, but you can also access some forms of support at UCL. 
2.

You should use UCL’s regulations if you need help with any of the following while you are registered with UCL:

  • Short-term Extenuating Circumstances mitigations such as a coursework extension or condoned late submission
  • Reasonable Adjustments for disabled students
  • Academic Adjustments
  • Exam Adjustments 
3.

Your Home Institution should provide the following (although please note that they may use different terminology): 

  • Any Extenuating Circumstances mitigation which might affect your UCL progression, award and/ or classification, such as deferrals 
  • An Interruption of Study 
  • A Support Plan or Support to Study Panel. 
4.If you have a disability or long-term condition, UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can liaise with your Home Institution to put reasonable adjustments in place for you at UCL. 

1.3.5 Placement programmes 

1.If you are on a UCL programme with a placement element, UCL has overall responsibility for your support needs, but your placement provider should also provide some support.
2.

Your placement provider should arrange the following (although please note that they may use different terminology):

  • Reasonable Adjustments for disabled students 
3.

You should use UCL’s regulations if you need academic support, for example with:

  • Extenuating Circumstances mitigations for any assessments that you need to complete 
  • Academic Adjustments 
  • An Interruption of Study 
  • A Support Plan or Support to Study Panel. 
4.Before you start your placement, you are encouraged to contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing to discuss your plans. If you have a disability or long-term condition, your SSW adviser can also liaise with your placement provider to put reasonable adjustments in place for you, and can discuss whether you will continue to engage with any support at UCL. 

1.3.6 Joint and dual degrees

1.If you are on a joint or dual degree (where your programme is delivered in partnership with another institution) you should follow the regulations of the institution that you are currently registered with e.g. if you are taking years 1 and 2 at UCL, you should use UCL’s regulations for those years; if you are taking years 3 and 4 at the partner institution, you should use the partner’s regulations for those years. 
2.Please note that the partner institution may use different terminology for different processes. 
3.UCL and the partner institution may share necessary information, such as your SoRA adjustments, with each other to ensure that you are fully supported throughout your studies. Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data includes more information. 

1.4 Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data 

1.This section explains how UCL’s Student Privacy Notice applies in relation to the Student Support Framework.
2.There are two main categories of data which fall under this Student Support Framework:
a)Personal Data: This is any information which identifies you as an individual. It may include your name, date of birth, nationality or other datapoints which, when combined, identify you.  
 b)Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive): This is personal data that is seen as being particularly sensitive and that needs to be processed by organisations with extra care and attention. This includes health data and any medical evidence that you submit when you apply for support. It also covers information about your race, ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, sex life, or sexual orientation. 
3.The following table gives some examples of the differences between Personal Data and Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive) in the context of the Student Support Framework:

 

Personal Data 

Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive) 

Extenuating Circumstances 

  • That you have submitted an Extenuating Circumstances claim 
  • The type of mitigation that you have received e.g. deferral, extension 
  • The mark that you have received for a particular assessment 
  • Your reasons for submitting an Extenuating Circumstances claim 
  • Supporting evidence including doctor’s letters, death certificates, solicitor’s letters  
  • Information about a medical or mental health condition 
  • Information about traumatic experiences 

Reasonable Adjustments 

  • That you have a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments 
  • The adjustments which your department is required to provide e.g. regular extensions, notes in advance, lecture recordings 
  • Information about the nature of your disability, specific learning difference, social difference or communication difference 
  • Why you need a particular reasonable adjustment 
  • Supporting evidence e.g. doctor’s letters, funding applications 

Interruption of Study 

  • That you have interrupted your studies 
  • Your reasons for interrupting your studies 
  • Supporting evidence e.g. doctor’s letters 
4.In the context of the Student Support Framework, this means that: 
a)Personal Data can be accessed by relevant UCL academic and professional services staff who have been given an approved staff login to UCL’s Student Records system, ‘Portico’. This includes (but is not limited to) Module Organisers, Personal Tutors, Departmental Tutors, Faculty Tutors, departmental administrators, your Board of Examiners, and central registry staff. 
 b)Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive) can only be accessed on a ‘need-to-know’ basis by members of staff who are directly responsible for approving your support. 
 If you are worried about sharing sensitive information 
5.In certain situations, you may be asked whether you give your consent for UCL to process information about you, or to decide how much information you want to share with whom. For example, if you are applying for a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA), your Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser may ask you how much information you want to share with staff in your Department.  
6.We understand that it can feel difficult to share detailed information with your tutors and lecturers, but your Department can support you more effectively if you do share information about your circumstances with them. 
7.If you don’t feel comfortable discussing personal issues with your Department, you can speak to the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team or to the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service
8.In some cases, it is also possible to request that your application is considered by your Faculty rather than your Department e.g. if you are applying for Extenuating Circumstances or an Interruption – please refer to the relevant procedures for further details.

1.5 Providing Supporting Evidence

1.5.1 Introduction

 Why do I need to provide evidence? 
1.You may be asked to provide medical or non-medical evidence to access some forms of support. This helps UCL to determine your eligibility for different types of support, arrange adjustments to teaching or living spaces, and make changes to your registration status.
 Help and advice 
2.If you have any questions about obtaining evidence, Section 1.2: Help and Advice includes information about the different people who can help you. 
3.If you are having any difficulties obtaining evidence, please speak to your Personal Tutor or Department. If you would prefer to talk someone outside of your Department, you can speak to a UCL Student Support and Wellbeing adviser or the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service
 Confidentiality 
4.Any evidence that you provide is classed as ‘Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive)’ which means that it can only be accessed on a ‘need-to-know’ basis by members of staff who are directly responsible for approving your support. Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data includes more information. 
 Falsification is a serious offence 
5.If you submit fraudulent evidence you will be subject to UCL’s Student Academic Misconduct Procedures. If you are struggling with your studies, please seek help - Section 1.2: Help and Advice includes details of a wide range of support services. 
6.In order to verify the authenticity of evidence and evidence providers, UCL reserves the right to conduct internet or third-party searches.

1.5.2 When do I need to provide evidence?

Type of Support 

Evidence Requirements 

Short-term Illness and Other Extenuating Circumstances 

  • You may be eligible to ‘self-certify’ within certain criteria. This means that you still need to make an application and meet UCL’s Grounds for ECs, but you do not need to provide supporting evidence. See Section 2.7: Self-certification for more details. 
  • For all other claims you will be asked to provide supporting evidence. This may be medical or non-medical evidence, depending on your circumstances. 

Reasonable Adjustments for Disabilities and Long-term Conditions 

  • You will be asked to provide supporting medical evidence to ensure your adjustments align with the Equality Act (2010). 

Academic Adjustments 

  • Academic Adjustments do not normally have any evidence requirements. 

Exam Adjustments 

  • You will be asked to provide supporting medical evidence to ensure your adjustments align with the Equality Act (2010). 

Interruption of Study 

  • ‘Category 1’ Interruptions do not normally require evidence. 
  • You will be asked to provide supporting evidence for a ‘Category 2’ Interruption or an earlier Return Date.  This may be medical or non-medical evidence, depending on your circumstances. 
  • If you are interrupting for reasons related to health and wellbeing, you may be subject to a Return to Study Welfare Review and will be asked to provide medical evidence. 

Support to Study 

  • Support Plans do not normally have any evidence requirements. 
  • If you are referred to the Support to Study Panel, you will be given the opportunity to submit a statement and supporting evidence. This may be medical or non-medical evidence, depending on your circumstances. 

Other support from Student Support and Wellbeing 


1.5.3 Sensitive and traumatic circumstances 

1.UCL understands that it can be distressing to be asked for ‘evidence’ in the case of very sensitive circumstances such as the death of a close relative, harassment, discrimination or sexual assault. We also understand that it can be very difficult to provide evidence of particularly traumatic events such as war or terrorism. If there are compelling reasons for making an exception, it may be possible to either suspend the need for formal evidence or accept alternative forms of evidence.  
2.If you would like to be considered for an evidence waiver, the best place to start is with your Personal Tutor, Student Adviser or another trusted person in your Department. They can then liaise with your Faculty Tutor and/ or UCL Student Support and Wellbeing on what might be possible for the particular type of support that you need. 
3.If you want to speak to someone confidentially, the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team and the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service are also here to help you. 

1.5.4 Medical evidence 

1.

Medical evidence needs to be:

  • Provided by a qualified doctor or other registered medical practitioner – this normally means registered with the UK General Medical Council. We may be able to consider evidence provided by a practitioner outside of the UK but they must be registered with an equivalent overseas professional medical body. 
  • In English - we may be able to consider evidence in another language but this must be accompanied by a certified translation. 
  • Independent - in line with the UK General Medical Council’s guidance, we are unable to accept evidence which is produced by a close relative, even if they are medically qualified. 
  • On letterheaded paper or stamped with an official stamp or seal (however, it can be scanned and sent electronically). 
  • Recent – which we would normally define as having been produced within the last three months (if you are applying for a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) relating to a disability or long-term condition, you may be able to provide evidence that has been produced within the last 12 months. Please speak to you Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser for more information). 
  • For Extenuating Circumstances, cover the full the period of time for which you are making a claim. 
2.

Your medical evidence should cover the following key points. We expect some variation in submissions and it is possible that some of these points will not be relevant to your circumstances:

  • Your full name 
  • Date 
  • Evidence provider’s full name, role, organisation and signature 
  • Name of the condition or disability 
  • Date of diagnosis 
  • Period of time that you have been seeing the practitioner for this condition 
  • Length of time that the practitioner expects the condition to last 
  • Main symptoms of this condition which could impact on your life or studies 
  • Current treatment and medication being undertaken 
  • Side effects of any treatments or medication, if applicable 
  • For Extenuating Circumstances, a professional evaluation of how the circumstance affects your ability to complete assessments (e.g. are you unable to submit coursework at the current time? Could you complete an exam with additional support such as specialist equipment or rest breaks?). 
3.In order to help your doctor or provider produce evidence that is as thorough and accurate as possible, you may wish to share these UCL regulations with them. 
4.If you are applying for a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) relating to a disability or long-term condition, your Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser may be able to give you an appropriate template to give to your doctor or provider to complete. 
 Returning from an Interruption of Study
5.

If you are required to attend a Welfare Review as part of your return from an Interruption of Study, we also expect your medical practitioner to comment on the following:

  • That your studies will not be detrimental to your health, or your health to your studies 
  • Possibility of relapse 
  • Arrangements for ongoing support if these are needed 
  • Your support network. 
 Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) 
6.To arrange support for students with specific learning differences, UCL requires a full diagnostic assessment carried out by a psychologist with a practicing certificate or a specialist teacher holding an assessment practicing certificate. If you have a partial assessment, such as a 'Form 8' report, then you will be advised to get a full assessment. 
7.Please note that there are deadlines for providing evidence for Exam Adjustments – the Exams and Assessments website includes the most up-to-date information. 
 If you have had an appointment with UCL Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS) 
8.UCL Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS) may be able to provide evidence if you have had an appointment with the service. SPCS can only provide evidence covering the period for which you are seeking support and cannot provide evidence retrospectively.

1.5.5 Non-medical evidence 

1.

Non-medical evidence needs to come from an appropriate, independent and verifiable authority such as:

  • A solicitor 
  • A midwife or adoption specialist 
  • A registrar of births, marriages and deaths 
  • An undertaker or coroner 
  • A police or fire officer 
  • A court or tribunal officer 
  • If you are a critical worker, your Programme Leader may be able to provide confirmation of your professional status. 
2.

Non-medical evidence needs to be: 

  • In English - we may be able to consider evidence in another language but this must be accompanied by a certified translation. 
  • Recent – which we would normally define as having been produced within the last three months. 
  • Independent - we are unable to accept evidence which is produced by a close relative even if they are professionally qualified. 
  • On letterheaded paper or stamped with an official stamp or seal (however, it can be scanned and sent electronically). 
  • For Extenuating Circumstances, cover the full the period of time for which you are making a claim. 
3.Non-medical evidence can include existing documents, such as an appointment letter, crime report or court document, or it can be specifically written for you in a letter or statement. There is no standard format, so we expect some variation in submissions. 
4.

Your non-medical evidence should cover the following key points. It is possible that some of these points will not be relevant to your circumstances:

  • Your full name 
  • Date 
  • The evidence provider’s full name, role, organisation and signature 
  • A description of the nature and severity of your circumstances 
  • A professional evaluation of how the circumstance affects you (e.g. are you unable to submit coursework at the current time? Could you complete an exam with additional support such as specialist equipment or rest breaks?). 
  • Precise dates of when the circumstance started and ended/ is expected to end. 
5.In order to help your doctor or provider produce evidence that is as thorough and accurate as possible, you may wish to share these UCL regulations with them.

1.6 Other Support Options  

 In addition to the Student Support Framework, you can speak to your Personal Tutor about whether any of the following might be suitable for you: 

Support process 

What this includes 

Further information 

Module Substitution 

 

If you are struggling with a particular module, it may be possible for you to substitute it with a different module, as long as you can still meet your programme diet’s requirements. You will need to meet certain criteria. 

Change of Mode of Attendance 

 

If you are struggling to study Full Time, it may be possible for you to transfer to Part Time or Flexible/ Modular if your programme includes this option. Please note that this is generally only available at Taught Postgraduate level, but it may be possible to make exceptional arrangements for an Undergraduate student. 

Programme Transfer 

 

It may be possible for you to transfer to another UCL programme if it would be a better fit for you. You will need to meet certain criteria.