Academic Manual


New Chapter: Student Support Framework

New chapter drawing together UCL's main academic support processes under one banner

In January 2020, a Student Support Review was established to revise UCL’s regulations and procedures relating to student support, including Extenuating Circumstances, Reasonable Adjustments, and Fitness to Study. The Student Support Framework has now been agreed by UCL’s Education Committee for implementation in the Academic Manual for the 2022-23 session onwards.

The Student Support Framework will be included as Chapter 2 of the Academic Manual, with various structural changes being made to accommodate this. 

For further information on the structural changes made please refer to: Academic Manual Structural Changes for 2022-23.

Briefing sessions and training are currently being organised for staff to accompany the new regulations. Further details will be sent in due course.

Summary of key changes

Updated Extenuating Circumstances Procedure

  • A streamlined, simplified EC process with a common escalation and delegation framework for all UCL departments and faculties. This includes removing the separate process for one-week extensions, mandating Departmental EC Panels, creating a single list of mitigations and approval levels, and refreshed guidance on valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances.
    • This more streamlined process will be supported by a new online Extenuating Circumstances Workflow in Portico, which is being taken forward under a separate project by the Portico Enhancements team. 
  • In direct response to student feedback, self-certification has now been permanently incorporated into the main UCLEC procedure. The common escalation and delegation framework also aims to address student concerns about disparity in decision-making across different departments.
  • Retained from the previous procedure the process of students requesting a review of an Extenuating Circumstances decision on the grounds of a significant procedural error to ensure student can make a timely challenge rather than waiting until the end of the year to appeal.
  • In direct response to staff feedback, there are revised policies on late evidence, late ECs and appeals. These have been aligned with the new UCL Student Appeals Procedure. Find out more about this via the following page: Changes to Student Casework Framework.
  • To support the new Extenuating Circumstances regulations a new EC system is being launched to manage these in Portico. Find out more about this via the following news article: Extenuating Circumstances (EC) to be managed in Portico from next year.

Link: Chapter 2: Short-term Illness and other Extenuating Circumstances

Updated Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SoRA) procedure for disabled students

  • The SoRA procedures have been updated and modernised, creating better alignment with the Equality Act (2010), incorporating new guidance on the types of adjustments available for different conditions, and adding new Service Level Agreements to enhance the student experience. 
  • There are also two key operational changes to improve how SoRAs work at UCL. The first is to establish named Departmental SoRA Contacts to support and manage SoRAs. Departments will have the freedom to determine who would be the best person to take on the role, and Student Support and Wellbeing have committed to provide training and professional development for the SoRA Contacts. 
  • The second operational change is to support departments in drawing up new Departmental SoRA Statements. These will be a short resource sheet summarising learning, teaching and assessment activities in the subject area, and highlighting any special discipline-specific considerations such as professional accreditation. These statements will then help Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) to have a better understanding of the local context and to adapt individual SoRAs accordingly. SSW have committed to providing support for departments to draw up their statements e.g. by providing templates, workshops etc.

Link: Chapter 2: Reasonable Adjustments for Disabilities and Long-term Conditions

New Academic Adjustments Policy

  • The new Academic Adjustments Policy is designed to provide longer-term support for students with protected characteristics beyond disabilities. This includes parents and carers, pregnant students, students who observe religious beliefs or cultural customs, students affected by traumatic world events, students affected by any form of harassment or discrimination, and students who are critical workers.
  • The new policy aims to be progressive and inclusive, and to fill the regulatory gap for students who need longer-term reasonable adjustments. It is not being presented as an additional process, but instead as a means of formalising the existing support provided by departments, and of raising awareness of the options available amongst students and staff.

Link: Chapter 2: Academic Adjustments

New Support to Study Procedure

  • The new Support to Study Procedure replaces the current Fitness to Study Procedure. It provides additional support for students who are having significant, persistent and long-term difficulties where the normal mechanisms (ECs, SoRAs, Interruptions etc.) are not providing the right level of support. Often students in need of such high levels of support have complex and overlapping needs.
  • The new Procedure aims to take a much kinder, more supportive, and student-centred approach, and to follow a less medicalised model. It includes new ‘Support Plans’ with actions for the student and the department, and a new UCL ‘Support to Study Panel’ for cases where a Support Plan is still not able to provide the right level of help. The regulations are also joined up with SSW’s Student of Concern procedure, helping us to take swift action in the event of an emergency.

Link: Chapter 2: Support to Study

Minor updates to Exam Adjustments and Interruptions

The framework incorporates the regulations for Exam Adjustments (moved from Chapter 4) and Interruption of Study (moved from Chapter 3). Minor updates have been made to align the language with the rest of the new framework.

Link: Chapter 2: Exam Adjustments and Chapter 2: Interruption of Study

Revised policy on acute episodes and fluctuating conditions

The framework includes a revised policy on the overlap between SoRAs and ECs. SSW and Departmental SoRA contacts will work together to consider the student’s needs holistically.

Link: Chapter 2, Section 3.5: Acute episodes and fluctuating conditions

Updated policy on supporting evidence

The framework includes a single policy on providing supporting evidence, drawing together the separate guidance that is currently available for ECs, Reasonable Adjustments etc. into one location.

Link: Chapter 2, Section 1.5: Providing Supporting Evidence

New policy on confidentiality and GDPR

In consultation with the GDPR team an overarching policy has been drawn up to explain student privacy issues in relation to UCL’s key support processes. It covers the difference between Personal Data and Special Category Personal Data (Sensitive) and aims to give departments a better understanding of when it is appropriate to share things like SoRAs or medical evidence.

Link: Chapter 2, Section 1.4: Confidentiality and Looking After Your Data

Updated policy on which regulations apply to which students

The framework includes an overarching policy which explains when UCL’s regulations apply e.g. for Study Abroad, Placements, Joint/ Dual Degrees, Short Courses, Affiliates etc. It also outlines where responsibilities lie for interdepartmental modules.

Link: Chapter 2: How to use this framework