Mitigating Circumstances

During your studies, there may be times when personal issues or ill health affect you. The University has a mitigating circumstances procedure so your School can take such times into account when reviewing how you have performed in an assessment. The aim of the procedure is to prevent your circumstances from having a negative impact on your degree.

Mitigating circumstances are usually things that you didn’t expect to happen or that were outside of your control. Generally, they could be any personal difficulties that could have a significant impact on you and your studies. For example, the circumstances may have affected your attendance on the course so you missed lectures or tutorials, causing you to fall behind. They could also affect your concentration and focus so that it’s more difficult for you to work on a piece of coursework or revise.

Some examples of mitigating circumstances are:

  • Serious ill health or injury, including physical or mental ill health

  • The death or serious illness of a family member or close friend

  • Serious housing, family or financial problems leading to significant stress

  • Technical or IT issues that have affected your exams or coursework

  • Absence for responsibilities like jury service

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on face to face teaching and learning, the University has updated mitigating circumstances to include technical or IT issues. If you are experiencing these difficulties, the University recommends reporting these to Help Me Get Online. Further support is available on the Help Me Get Online website. 

Report the difficulties to your School as soon as you can. They may be able to support you with alternative assessment arrangements. Take screenshots of error messages. Try to avoid re-saving your piece of work after the submission deadline. Your document properties can be used as evidence to show that the piece of work was not edited after the deadline.

The following situations are not normally accepted as mitigating circumstances:

  • Planned or expected events such as moving house, holidays and weddings

  • Assessments being close together or misreading your exam timetable

  • Exam stress or panic attacks that isn’t diagnosed as illness or supported by medical evidence

Mitigating circumstances and COVID-19

The University has made an Assessment Pledge and introduced extra support measures for assessments. The aim of the pledge is to help ensure that students won’t be disadvantaged in their assessments because of the pandemic.

The pledge includes giving students up to two automatic extensions for individual assignments or coursework and changes to mitigating circumstances evidence requirements.

The pledge is a result of ongoing negotiations between our Student Exec Officer Team and the University. Whilst our officers have supported the pledge, they will be continuing advocate for students and will be asking the University to consider additional support measures. Read the latest update from Laetitia your Education Officer and Nana your Postgraduate Officer.

Automatic Extensions

The University is allowing students to access a seven day automatic extension on up to two assignments or pieces of coursework. This includes dissertations. The aim is to help reduce any difficulties you may experience around a number of deadlines all coming up at once.

You must apply for the automatic extension before your original deadline.

You can apply for the seven day automatic extension in addition to any extensions you may already have in place for example from a mitigating circumstances claim or through the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS).

Your School or Department will contact you with details of how to apply for the automatic extension. If you haven’t received this or you are unsure, you can contact your School Support Office.

The University’s Assessment Pledge FAQs also provide additional guidance.

Changes to Mitigating Circumstances

Evidence does not need to be provided for claims relating to illness. This includes physical health difficulties or injury and mental health.
If you are claiming because of technology or IT issues or additional caring responsibilities the University is recommending that you submit evidence if you can. This can include:

  • Screenshots of network or hardware error messages or faults at the point of submission
  • Correspondence from your internet service provider confirming network issue
  • Communications from a school or care facility confirming that they are closed or the person you care for is unable to attend (including relevant dates)

Check with your School in case they have issued any additional guidance on the changes to evidence requirements.

If you have any questions or concerns about evidence, please get in touch with the Advice Service.

Applying for Mitigating Circumstances

To apply for mitigating circumstances, you’ll need to fill out a Request for Mitigation Form and submit this to your School. The form should be available from your School – check if there is an online application.

Your academic advisor or School Support Office should be able to help you with this. You may also find relevant information and a link to the form in your programme handbook, or on blackboard or your School intranet pages.

If you’re unsure of who to speak to in your department, you can check the University’s list of School Support Offices for the relevant contact details.

Wherever possible, mitigating circumstances must be submitted before or around the time of the relevant assessment. For example, aim to apply before a coursework deadline or by the start of the exam period. If something unexpected happens during your exams try to submit your application by the end of the exam period. Your School should publish the deadline for submitting your application.

Mitigating circumstances submitted late might not be taken into account unless there are exceptional reasons for the delay. If you are submitting your application late, include an explanation for this on your form.

Completing your Form

Have your student details to hand, including your student ID number, course title and the year you are in. You will also need the details of any assessments you will be including on your application. This includes the unit code and title of the assessment and the date of submission or exam. It’s important to include all the affected assessments on your application.

You will also need to write a supporting statement to explain your circumstances and the impact on your academic work. You don’t need to write a long statement but it’s important to give enough detail for your School to understand what you have been through. Your statement should also show how your performance in your assessments could be lower than your usual standard. We might suggest 1 to 2 paragraphs but this could vary depending on your circumstances.

Writing a Statement

Make sure you include the following key details.

What has happened / what are the circumstances

Write a summary of the issue you are facing. Provide details to show how the circumstances are having a significant impact on you. Explain what has happened in chronological order and try to provide specific dates of the relevant events.

How you were affected by the circumstances

Explain the impact of the circumstances on you personally. Describe your health and wellbeing including any physical symptoms, mental ill health or experience of difficult emotions. Provide some examples of how this has affected your day to day life. For example, difficulty getting to sleep or waking up, loss of appetite, feeling upset for long periods, neglecting your daily routine. Try to quantify the impact on your where possible. State whether you have been affected in the same way for most days of the week.

How your academic performance has been affected

Explain the impact on the affected assessments. Again, give day in the life examples but with a specific focus on your coursework and / or exams. For example, if you’ve had difficulty sleeping and you are struggling with your mental health it might take you twice as much time to make notes from a piece of reading due to reduced concentration. Explain how your studies have been disrupted. Start with describing the personal impact and then apply this to an academic impact on you.

Example statement:

I have been struggling with feeling very anxious and down over the last few weeks of term. Since reading week, this has been getting worse and worse. In the last few weeks before the Christmas holidays I found it really difficult to get to sleep and most nights would be awake until 2 or 3 in the morning. I would often sleep through my alarm but still wake up feeling really tired. I felt overwhelmed by anxious thoughts during the day and couldn’t leave the house. I’ve not been eating properly as I’ve struggled to get to the shops due to the anxiety. I’ve missed a lot of my lectures and tutorials. I’ve fallen behind with my units and haven’t been able to keep track of the course and the content I need to work on for my January exams. I’ve tried to do some of the readings but I just found myself staring at the page and going over the same bit over and over.

I spoke to my Dad when I went home and he helped me go to the GP. I had an appointment on the 23rd of December. My doctor said that I have been suffering from anxiety and they have suggested I try some medication. I’ve started taking this but the doctor said it might take a few weeks to work. I’ve been finding it really hard to catch up with the work I missed or revise for my exams as the medication has made me feel drowsy.

Mitigating Circumstances Outcomes

Once submitted, your application will be reviewed by a mitigating circumstances panel arranged by your School.

The panel will decide if the circumstances are likely to have affected your academic performance. If it is agreed that the impact on your studies is significant, your application will be accepted. The panel will make a recommendation on how mitigation will be applied to your assessments.

The recommendation will be passed to you School’s exam board who will make the final decision. A successful application for mitigating circumstances will not result in your marks being changed or increased but it will be aimed at minimising the impact of your circumstances on your studies. The exam board will have a number of options available and will choose outcomes considered to be most appropriate to your individual circumstances.

Possible outcomes include:

  • A new first attempt at the affected assessment(s)

  • A final resit opportunity

  • An extension to the submission deadline or late penalties to be removed

  • Excluding the mark from the overall unit average

  • For final year students, extending the limit of the boundary zone for degree classifications by a maximum of 2%

Your school should contact you to confirm the outcome of your application. If you don’t hear back, speak to the staff in your School Support Office.

Extra Support:

If you’re experiencing mitigating circumstances, we’d really encourage you to reach out for some extra support.

Your GP (Family Doctor)

Your GP is there to help you with any health issues or personal difficulties you’re going through. We'd recommend booking an appointment with them if you’re worried about your health or you’ve been feeling low, anxious or stressed They are there to help with physical and mental health or if you’ve been finding things difficult.

University Counselling and Mental Health Service:

The University provides a professional Counselling and Mental Health Service for students. This is separate all other departments and as well as being free and confidential. Counsellors are there to offer emotional support in difficult circumstances or help with mental health issues.

To speak to a Counsellor, there is a short online questionnaire for new clients to complete prior to booking an appointment. The results of the questionnaire help the Counselling Service allocate their appointments. At the end of the questionnaire, you should be given a colour. Make a note of this so you can provide it to the receptionist when you ring for an appointment. Sometimes the questionnaire may recommend trying some of the self-help resources, but it is still possible to arrange an appointment as well.

You can then book and appointment by calling 0161 275 2864 between 10.30 and 1.30 (Monday – Friday). Appointments are generally available the same or next working day. If you have any difficulty getting through on the telephone or this time of day doesn’t work for you, we recommend emailing on [email protected].

24 Hour Helplines:

If you’d like to speak to someone outside of the University or at times when the Counselling Service isn’t available, 24 hour support is available from the Greater Manchester Mental Health 24/7 Helpline. You can call the helpline on 0800 953 0285 at any time.

Out of hours support is also available from the Health Assured 24 hour mental health helpline and wellbeing app. The helpline is available 24 hours on 0800 028 3766. They also offer a call back service for students. Ask for a call back if you are worried about call charges.

How We Can Help You

If you’re not sure about whether to apply for mitigating circumstances or you have a question about the process you can contact one of our advisors who can answer any queries you have.

Contact us with a summary of your circumstances and any questions. Include your course title, and whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student.

Our advisors can also check your Request for Mitigation Form before you submit it. If you send us your completed form and draft supporting statement we’ll check what you’ve written and provide advice on any extra information to include.

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of your application, get in touch with one of our advisors for further support.

Get in touch or send us your draft by e-mailing Advice Team.

See our Contact Us page for more information on our opening hours and when advisors are available.

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