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Section 4: Academic Adjustments

Published for 2022-23


4.1 What are Academic Adjustments?4.3 Academic Adjustments or Extenuating Circumstances?
4.2 How to apply4.4 What support is available?

4.1 What are Academic Adjustments?

1.

Academic Adjustments fall under the broader banner of ‘reasonable adjustments’. The Equality Act 2010 legally requires education providers to implement reasonable adjustments for Disabled students. UCL goes above the legal requirement to implement reasonable adjustments for other protected characteristics. This includes ongoing support for: 

  • Students who have parenting or caring responsibilities 
  • Students who are pregnant 
  • Students planning maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave 
  • Students who observe religious beliefs or cultural customs 
  • Students affected by any form of harassment or discrimination  
  • Students affected by traumatic world events such as war or terrorism  
  • Students who are critical workers (e.g. NHS staff). 
2.You may also be offered some forms of Academic Adjustment as part of a Support Plan under the Support to Study procedure

4.2 How to apply

1.Academic Adjustments are provided by your Department. 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 departmental staff such as Personal Tutors, Student Advisers, departmental administrators, your Programme Leader, Departmental Tutor and other academic staff.  
2.Your Department may consult with other UCL staff in order to work out the best support for you. This might include your Faculty Tutor, UCL Academic Services, UCL Student Support and Wellbeing, or the Chaplaincy and Interfaith Advice team.  
3.

You can also find detailed advice and guidance for different groups on the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing website:

4.We will look after your data carefully and sensitively, and your personal information will only be shared with staff on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. Please refer to Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data for further information. 

4.3 Academic Adjustments or Extenuating Circumstances?

1.

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) are generally for emergencies - the definition is “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”. This means that:

  • Long-term commitments and responsibilities normally fall under Academic Adjustments (this policy). Examples include day-to-day childcare, regular work commitments, regular medical or maternity appointments, daily prayer, or fasting. 
  • Short-term emergencies and unexpected events normally fall under Extenuating Circumstances. Examples might include a breakdown of your normal caring arrangements, complications in pregnancy, or professional clinical emergencies. 
2.Your circumstances might not fit neatly into one category – for example if you or your loved ones are experiencing long-term traumatic events such as war, harassment or discrimination you may need to use both Extenuating Circumstances for short-term help and Academic Adjustments for longer-term support. Your Personal Tutor or a Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser can help you to work out the best combination for you. 
3.It is also important to note that Extenuating Circumstances only include adjustments for summative assessments (i.e. formal assessments where your results count towards your degree). ECs cannot provide support for teaching events or formative assessments. 

4.4 What support is available? 

1.Your Department will need to balance a wide range of factors when determining what adjustments are possible and appropriate. This might include:
 a)The nature and extent of your personal circumstances 
 b)The types of learning activities you will be involved in, such as lectures, seminars, labs, clinical work, study abroad, placements, exhibitions, etc. 
 c)The types of assessments that you will be undertaking, such as online exams, in-person exams, take-home papers, coursework, clinical exams, presentations, etc. 
 d)Any Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body requirements on your programme (some bodies may prohibit some forms of adjustment) 
 e)Any Competency Standards or Fitness to Practise requirements on your programme (e.g. in clinical subjects or teacher training) 
 f)Fairness to all students in your year and over time 
 g)Protecting the academic standards of the degrees awarded by UCL. 
2.Academic Adjustments can take a number of forms depending on your specific circumstances. The following examples are provided to help you understand the types of support that might be available (please note that some adjustments are subject to eligibility criteria):  

For lectures, seminars and teaching events 

  • Helping you to meet the minimum attendance requirements via recordings of lectures and seminars on Lecturecast 
  • Sending you notes and slides 
  • Helping you to take part in online discussions asynchronously 
  • Planning classes so that you can leave before dark 
  • Making arrangements to help you catch up on missed content 
  • Scheduling tutorials to accommodate medical appointments or days when you are prohibited from working 
  • Conducting an Equality Impact Assessment 
  • Other discipline-specific adjustments appropriate to the circumstances. 

For your assessments 

  • Using the UCL Diversity Calendar to schedule departmental exams and assessment deadlines to avoid the main religious festivals, Friday prayers and Sabbath (Friday afternoons and Saturdays). 

For your ongoing health and wellbeing 

  • Giving you a named contact (with an indication of office hours) 
  • Regular meetings with your Personal Tutor, Student Adviser or departmental support staff. 
3.Your Department will also need to take the following limitations into consideration:
 Timetabling
4.While UCL makes every effort to be as inclusive as possible, we are only able to deliver classes and learning activities at certain times. The UCL timetable is very tightly packed; moving one lecture or seminar can have a knock-on effect on many other students. By agreeing to UCL’s Student Terms and Conditions all students are agreeing to the limitations of the UCL timetable. 
 Central Assessment Timetable
5.The Central Assessment Timetable uses the UCL Diversity Calendar to schedule online and in-person exams. It is not possible to avoid all religious festivals but the team will avoid days where work is prohibited for religious reasons. 
 Attendance
6.Each faculty has a minimum attendance threshold that allows for a small amount of absence. This means that reasonable adjustments are already built into UCL’s Student Attendance Policy. It is not possible to lower the minimum attendance thresholds any further.  
7.If you are unable to attend an individual class on a particular day or time, but you will still be able to meet the minimum attendance thresholds, please ensure that you check the local policy before taking any leave. 
8.If a particular module is regularly scheduled for a day/ time when you are unable to attend (e.g. if you have medical or therapy appointments, or you are prohibited from working due to religious reasons), or you cannot meet the minimum attendance thresholds, your Department may be able to make special arrangements. However, while your Department may be able to reschedule individual tutorials, it is unlikely that they will be able to reschedule larger events such as lectures, seminars or exams. 
 Assessment deadlines 
9.Academic Adjustments do not include extra time to complete assessments such as extensions or deferrals. Assessment deadlines will be given to you in advance. You will need to plan your work so that it is completed in good time.  
 Fasting
10.If you are taking an assessment while fasting, it is important that you look after yourself carefully and make sure that you are well-prepared for the assessment, for example by ensuring that you eat well the night before. Help and advice is available from UCL's Chaplaincy and Interfaith Advice team. Fasting is not normally considered to be an Extenuating Circumstance because it is not an emergency i.e. it doesn’t meet the “sudden and unexpected” test. However if, as a result of fasting, you become ill during an assessment and are unable to complete it, this may be considered. 
 Study Abroad and Placements
11.If your programme includes a Study Abroad or Placement element, UCL can provide some additional support but you should make sure that you are aware of the policies and practices of the host institution or organisation.