UCL News


Extenuating circumstances and support for disabled students

12 November 2015

In September, UCL changed its policy on extenuating circumstances.

Quad This includes provisions for students facing emergencies which mean they might not be able to complete their coursework or sit an exam.

The new policy was developed by a working group of Education Committee in consultation with staff from every faculty, student representatives and UCLU sabbatical officers. We are confident that the new policy will ensure consistency so that all students, no matter which department they are in, can access extensions, deferrals and special exam arrangements when they need to, and that all requests will be treated confidentially and with compassion, respect and speed.

When students need support because of a long-term physical or psychological condition, they are given help through a different route to extenuating circumstances. Our experts in Student Disability Services and Student Psychological Services currently support around 3,000 students and work with each individual to draw up a Statement of Reasonable Adjustment which details all the support mechanisms that are available to the student throughout their studies. This might include an extension, extra time, specialist equipment or a wide range of other options. The important thing is that we put in a long-term plan for all assessments so that students don't have to keep applying for support for every assignment. Of course if a student has a long-term condition they may also face emergencies such as a flare-up of their condition, or their condition might be newly-diagnosed. In these sorts of circumstances, students can make use of the extenuating circumstances policy, as well as the longer-term support provided by Student Disability Services and Student Psychological Services.

The start of term is always a busy time for Student Disability Services and unfortunately we are not able to give students an appointment as quickly as we would like. We would like faculties to use their discretion to allocate students additional time for coursework or exams if they have requested an appointment from Student Disability Services or Student Psychological Services, but have not yet been seen. Please contact your Faculty Tutor or Lizzie Vinton in Academic Services (l.vinton@ucl.ac.uk) for advice or more information.

If a student contacts you for advice, and would like to talk to our support services, please put them in touch by phone on 020 7679 0100 or by email at disability@ucl.ac.uk. Students can also visit our team in person at the Student Support Centre, Level 4, UCL Institute of Education, and further information is available on our website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/disability.

UCL will be reviewing all of the assessment regulations for taught programmes this year, including those around extenuating circumstances and reasonable adjustments. This will include a UCL-wide consultation process which all staff are encouraged to get involved in. Look out for further details early in 2016.

Derfel Owen, Director of Academic Services, UCL Student & Registry Services