officer blog


Undergraduate Education

Rebekah Temple-Fielder


Extenuating circumstances review

TW: death, mental health

Hello there! I hope everyone is having a good 2022 so far and that the assessment period was as smooth and stress-free as possible!

Over the last month, I’ve received feedback from multiple students that they have had difficulty in applying for extenuating circumstances. The most extreme of these cases include students being asked to provide the death certificates of recently deceased friends and family members as evidence with their applications. To make matters worse, some of those students were then told that this did not prove an impact on their ability to learn or complete assessments, and that they would have to provide a letter from their GP explaining the effect on their wellbeing.

I was appalled and sickened when I first heard about the university making such insensitive requests; my sympathies go out to all those affected. It is absolutely not appropriate to ask for such personal evidence - the potential for this requirement to have a further traumatic effect on students should not be understated. I have already spoken at length to Emma Sutton-Pavli, UEA’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience and Education, who accepted how problematic these requests are. We also looked at issues with other aspects of the extenuating circumstances process, such as the online form asking when the student thinks their circumstances will stop affecting their education, which is clearly insensitive and, in most cases, is not useful information.

Thanks to the feedback I have presented, the university has now committed to conducting a full review of the both the process and evidence requirements for extenuating circumstances. I look forward to working with the university on this project to ensure that the wellbeing needs of students are catered for.