Application process for mitigating circumstances leads to further stress

One student was denied mitigating circumstances after failing to provide sufficient evidence of her father being in hospital

The University of York’s application procedure for mitigating circumstances has been criticised by several students who disagree with the way the University decides to grant them.
One student said that after struggling to complete her essay on time due to visiting her fatally ill father in hospital, her mitigating circumstances claim was rejected.

Image: Dan Moyle

Image: Dan Moyle

The University stated that she would be granted mitigating circumstances if she provided proof from a doctor of her visits and that she was emotionally upset by the situation.

However, although the student provided proof from a nurse that she was visiting her father, the University did not deem this to be sufficient evidence.

The student told Nouse: “I felt like they were saying I made it up that my dad was ill, which just made the situation worse.”

The University offers mitigating circumstances for students whose circumstances significantly affect their ability to undertake an assessment.

Successful applicants can be given an altered deadline for completion of a module assessment or a sit for a formal examination or assignment “as if for the first time”.

Another student said that despite the fact her department is aware that she suffers from an illness that fluctuates, she is still required to provide an updated medical letter each time mitigating circumstances is required for an assessment.

A University spokesman told Nouse that they could not comment on individual cases but said: “The mitigating circumstances policy is not a mechanism for adjusting for disabilities or chronic illnesses. Disabilities and chronic illnesses are addressed through ‘reasonable adjustments’ which are put into place [by] the Disability Services.

“Students with disabilities are eligible to apply for mitigation, but in response to something unforeseen which affects their assessment. We would expect students involved would work with Disability Services on assessment issues in advance to avoid claims [for] mitigation for issues that could have been foreseen.”

One student who suffers from severe clinical depression and anxiety had a more positive experience. They told Nouse: “I was having several visits to doctors during essay hand-in week …The Chair of Exams … was very supportive, guided me through the process and assisted me all the way. It was brilliant to have such a supportive, understanding department.”

One comment

  1. Please, Nouse, whenever you publish an article like this, include some statistics. How many students are “several”? Are there any trends, e.g., departments that seem to appear in complaints. Or is this purely anecdotal? Lazy, lazy reporting, which may cause us to overlook genuine difficulties that people might be having.

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