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Exceptional circumstances

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We recognise that there may be times when you are unable to meet the submission deadline for your work due to difficulties beyond your control e.g. personal illness or personal difficulties. If you find yourself in such a position you can make a claim for exceptional circumstances.

If you are studying either on campus, by distance learning or at one of our UK partnership organisations you can access the exceptional circumstances form via My Student Information and Support > Exceptional Circumstances > Create a new claim and view previous claims in your e:VisionStaffs Portal.

If you have any questions or experience difficulty in completing the Exceptional Circumstances form please seek advice from your personal tutor, the Student Hub at Stoke or the Information Points at Stafford or Shrewsbury, the Students' Union Advice Centre or your Student Guidance Advisors who are there to provide specialist information, as well as confidential, impartial advice. 

Please refer to the Exceptional Circumstances Procedure.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Self-Isolation

In light of COVID-19, our aim is to support students as best as it can to ensure they're able to complete their studies and feel safe.

In certain circumstances, students may have been advised to self-isolate by the NHS and are therefore unable to attend examinations or submit assessments.

Whilst all other applications for exceptional circumstances require a form of evidence, it has been agreed that where a student has been advised by the NHS to self-isolate relating to COVID-19, this does not require medical evidence and students can 'self-certify' in these circumstances.  However, you must inform the University using our Covid-19 Declaration of Self-isolation form, at the time of your self-isolation, so that a claim for exceptional circumstances can be upheld.

If you do need to claim for exceptional circumstances, we ask that you use this text in your application:

"I have been advised by the NHS to self-isolate.  This advice was issued on the (enter date) and the period of self-isolation ends on (enter date)" 

The University appreciate that IT issues might be different for those impacted by the COVID-19 situation, therefore, claims for students in this situation which are based on IT or computer problems will be considered case by case.

Examples of Acceptable Claims for Exceptional Circumstances

The following are commonly accepted grounds for exceptional circumstances:

  • Serious ill health
  • Personal accident or injury of a significant nature
  • Bereavement due to the loss of a close family member - a parent, grandparent, guardian, sibling, son, daughter, or a close personal friend. Claims relating to extended family members will not normally be accepted.
  • Victim of crime
  • Significant worsening of an on-going condition*
  • Unforeseen transport difficulties which could not have been avoided
  • Unforeseen work commitments, not applicable to full-time students
  • Unexpected pregnancy complications
  • Jury Service, only if your attendance is compulsory and cannot be deferred
  • Adverse weather conditions (PDF, file size: 122KB)  - Please click on the link for further information

*Please note you will need to provide evidence from your GP or the Accessability Team to confirm that you experienced a worsening of your disability or ongoing condition, leading up to, or at the time of your assessment.

Examples of Non-Acceptable Claims for Exceptional Circumstances

The following is a non-exhaustive list of the circumstances we do not consider to be exceptional:
  • Minor illness i.e. cough or cold
  • Life events i.e. moving house, weddings and holidays
  • Change of employment, where this was within your control
  • Routine medical appointments
  • Poor time-management
    1. Not allowing sufficient time to travel to University to undertake assessments or submit  coursework
    2. Not allowing sufficient time to access IT facilities in order to print assessments
    3. Not allowing sufficient time to complete and submit multiple assessments with similar deadlines
  • Poor practice i.e. failure to back up work
  • Personal computer or printer problems (please see 'important to note' below)
  • Financial issues
  • Getting assessment information wrong
  • Sitting the wrong examination
  • Normal exam stress or anxiety experienced during revision or during the assessment period
  • Religious festival, this is not unforeseen and any matters should be discussed with either your Personal or Course Tutor in advance
  • Conditions covered in your Learning Support Statement, for which you are receiving reasonable and appropriate adjustments
  • Medical condition supported only by retrospective evidence (such as a Doctor's note stating that you were seen after the illness)
  • Late enrolment on a course or module, where this was within your control
  • Complaints against staff or in relation or module/course delivery. These are considered through the University's Complaints and Appeals Procedure
Important to note:
  • If you are uncertain whether your claim might be legitimate, please discuss this with your Personal Tutor, a member of staff from within the Student Guidance Team ( or Students' Union Advice Centre ( or 01782 294629
  • The University appreciate that IT issues are different for Distance Learners who cannot usually use IT equipment owned by the University. Therefore, claims from students on Distance Learning courses which are based on IT or computer problems, will be considered case by case.

Standard of Acceptable Evidence

Examples of acceptable evidence - the list is not exhaustive

  • Doctor's letter or certificate which confirms your illness and clearly identifies that the time period for which you were unwell corresponds to the assessment period in which you are claiming
  • Hospital admission and discharge letter, to confirm your time spent in hospital
  • Death certificate / Order of Service / Funeral Director's Letter
  • Any supporting statements issued by a Personal Tutor, Course Tutor or Module Tutor must be provided on a Supporting Statement Form (PDF, file size: 121KB) , on headed paper as a PDF or come directly from the author's e-mail address.
  • Police report, a crime reference number on its own will not be sufficient
  • A supporting statement from your employer if your circumstances relate to an unexpected increase in workload or unexpected employment circumstances i.e. deployment.  A supporting statement issued by your employer must be provided on a Supporting Statement Form (PDF, file size: 121KB) , on headed paper as a PDF or come directly from the author's e-mail address.
  • News report to confirm unforeseen transport difficulties

Evidence which is Not Acceptable

Examples of evidence which is not acceptable

  • Self-certification of your own circumstances
  • Evidence which is not supplied by an independent party
  • Evidence of a medical condition for which a Doctor did not see or diagnose in person, please see paragraph below for further information relating to on-line medical diagnosis
  • Hospital or Doctor appointment letter / card
  • Medical condition supported by retrospective evidence
  • A letter from a parent, partner, family member or fellowstudent verifying circumstances where there is no other independent supporting evidence
  • Extracts of numerous emails merged into single documents
  • Evidence in a language other than English
  • Crime reference number without a supplementary Police report
  • Screenshots from mobile devices showing restricted information
  • Illegible evidence i.e. faded wording, cropped, missing information, undated, poorly scanned evidence

Online-Line Medical Diagnosis
The University will not accept Doctor's letters provided by on-line GP services such as Push Doctor Important to note:

  • All evidence must be contemporaneous to the assessment period in which you are claiming
  • Evidence to corroborate illness must be provided by a medical practitioner
  • Supporting statements in a Word document will not be accepted, nor will emails that are not sent directly from the author.
  • Evidence in support of your claim must be legible and dated, poorly scanned, cropped (missing information), faded evidence will not be accepted
  • Evidence must be accompanied by a certified translation if written in a language other than English.  The translation must be undertaken by a member of the Association of Translation Companies   It is your responsibility to have your evidence independently translated and to bear any costs incurred
  • If you are unable to submit evidence when you complete your exceptional circumstances claim, please submit the evidence within two weeks.  You can upload the evidence whilst your claim is at the following status: Awaiting Review, Part Notified or Part Reviewed.   Without evidence we are unable to consider your claim.
  • If you submit some but not all of your evidence within the required timeframe, then your claim will be considered on the evidence you have provided
  • The University cannot obtain evidence on your behalf