What are Mitigating Circumstances?
The University defines mitigating circumstances as ‘unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances that could have, or did have, a significant adverse effect on the academic performance of a student’ (full policy available here).
Possible mitigating circumstances include:
- significant illness or injury; or worsening of an ongoing illness or disability, including mental health conditions;
- the death or critical/significant illness of a close family member/dependant;
- significant family or personal crises or major financial problems leading to acute stress; and
- absence from the University for public service, for example, jury service.
Circumstances that will not normally be regarded as grounds for mitigation include:
- failure, loss or theft of a computer or printer that prevents submission of work on time; students should back up work regularly and not leave completion so late that they cannot find another computer or printer;
- holidays, moving house and events that were planned or could reasonably have been expected;
- travel during exam period: The expectation is that students studying on campus (i.e. not remotely) will remain in Manchester during the entirety of the exam period to ensure minimal disruption to exams. If a student is required to travel during the exam period, it is their responsibility to ensure travel times do not interfere with their exam schedule and that they have reliable access to equipment and Wi-Fi to enable them to complete their exams on time and without disruption. Whilst restrictions have eased in the UK, other countries may still require travellers to quarantine in a designated hotel where Wi-Fi and equipment may be limited. In these instances, mitigation is unlikely to be accepted, should they impact on a student's exams;
- assessments that are scheduled close together;
- misreading the timetable or misunderstanding the requirements for assessments;
- inadequate planning and time management;
- the act of religious observance (please see the Examinations and Religious Observance form);
- consequences of paid employment (except in some special cases for part-time students);
- exam stress or panic attacks not diagnosed as illness or supported by medical evidence; and
- disruption in an examination room during the course of an assessment which has not been brought to the attention of, or recorded by, the invigilators (including instances such as fire alarms or other noise disruption).
Events may arise during pregnancy that may constitute mitigating circumstances, and these need to be judged on a case by case basis. It is recommended by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), that, at a minimum, students are required to take two weeks’ compulsory maternity-related absence, or four weeks if they are on placement in a factory. This is in line with employment law, and is to ensure the health and safety of the mother following birth.
Applications for mitigating circumstances must be submitted using the AMBS Mitigating Circumstances Request Form. If you have any problems accessing or submitting the form, please get in touch with the Student Support and Guidance Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are experiencing issues that could have an impact on your academic performance leading up to an assessment period it is your responsibility to ensure you let the School know prior to the start of that assessment. The start dates of the assessment periods for 2023 are as follows:
- Semester 1: 16 January
- Semester 2: 22 May
If you experience circumstances that have arisen during the course of an examination, an application should be submitted within one working day of the end of the affected examination.
University policy states that requests for mitigation submitted after the published date for the beginning of an assessment period will not be considered without a credible and compelling explanation as to why the circumstances were not known, or could not have been shown, before the beginning of the assessment period. For example, if you have been ill three days before your exam but do not inform us until after the exam has started, you would have to provide a credible and compelling explanation for the delay.
Not informing the University of circumstances due to personal feelings, e.g., shame, embarrassment and pride, or having concerns over the confidential treatment of requests for mitigation, are not considered to be credible and compelling explanations as to why the circumstances could not be made known or shown before the beginning of the assessment period. Additionally, if you experience circumstances that have arisen during the course of an exam, an application should be submitted within one working day of the end of the exam. For example, for an exam on Friday, 20 January 2023, you will have until the end of Monday, 23 January 2023 to submit your mitigation.
The ultimate date by which cases for mitigation should be submitted, supported by a credible and compelling explanation as to why the application was not made before the beginning of the assessment period, is Friday, 9 June 2023.
Please be aware that some online exams will be after 9 June, you can still submit mitigating circumstances for these exams as long as you submit the online form within 1 working day of the exam deadline.
As per the University's Mitigating Circumstances requirements, you do not need to present a GP letter for medical-related mitigation requests but will accept alternative evidence. That being said, documentation to support a medical-related mitigation request will greatly strengthen your application.
In cases of long-term or recurring medical or mental health conditions, we will only ask for evidence once (unless there are accreditation requirements).
Supporting evidence should be independent and time-specific to the circumstances for which you are requesting mitigation. If you are required to provide supporting documentation but are unable to do this prior to the deadline, please make sure that you still submit mitigating circumstances application on time.
If you experience IT issues during any of your semester 2 exams in 2022/23 and apply for mitigating circumstances, you must provide clearly time and date stamped screenshots or videos to show the IT issues before the deadline. You must also send the supporting documentation straight after you have submitted your mitigating circumstances application and these must be provided on the day of the exam. Without these, the panel will not be able to consider mitigation for IT issues.
You should scan or photograph and email any supporting documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note) to email@example.com with your full name and student ID in the subject box. We may require to see original copies so please keep a hold of your documents. If there is a delay in obtaining your evidence in support you are advised to submit your application form within the time frame noting that your evidence will follow. It is expected that evidence in support of an application for Mitigating Circumstances is provided to the School within a week of the date of the application being submitted. To have your application considered at the next panel, please see forthcoming panel dates below, in ‘Mitigating Circumstances Panel’.
If you are experiencing issues that could have an impact on your academic performance leading up to an assessment period it is your responsibility to ensure you let the School (firstname.lastname@example.org) know prior to the start of that assessment period. The dates for the resit period are Monday, 21 August to Friday, 1 September 2023.
If you experience circumstances that have arisen during the course of an assessment period, an application should be submitted for the affected assessment prior to the deadline; otherwise a credible and compelling reason will need to be provided in order for the application to be considered.
The ultimate date by which cases for mitigation should be submitted, supported by a credible and compelling explanation as to why the application was not made before the beginning of the assessment period, is Monday, 4 September 2023.
Students registered with DASS who have stated a disability-related reason for their request for mitigation do not need to provide additional medical evidence to support their request. However, a detailed explanation of how the disability has specifically impacted your studies at the time needs to be given on the mitigation application form.
In the instance where students have stated external factors that have, for example, exacerbated their disability, evidence of these external factors should still be provided (e.g., if an exacerbation of disability is due to a bereavement, a medication change or financial issues, evidence of these issues should still be provided). DASS will advise the School if it feels that further disability-related evidence is required.
Students who are not registered with DASS but have stated a disability-related reason for their request for mitigation will still need to provide medical evidence of their difficulties to support their request.
You can contact the AMBS Disability Coordinator at DC.email@example.com
Applications for Mitigating Circumstances are considered by a Mitigating Circumstances Panel.
The Mitigating Circumstances Panel is a sub-group of the Board of Examiners. The Panel meets regularly throughout the year to consider cases for mitigation. The dates for the Mitigating Circumstances Panel meetings in 22/23 are to be confirmed.
The Panel makes recommendations to the Board of Examiners to assist the Board in reaching a decision on a student's progression/degree classification. It follows that the last date by which to submit a case for mitigation - Friday, 9 June 2023 - is adhered to as any medical evidence/mitigating circumstances submitted after this date may be received too late for consideration prior to the Board of Examiners' meeting. Evidence received after Friday, 9 June 2023 will only be considered under exceptional circumstances.
If the Mitigating Circumstances Panel has evidence to indicate that the assessment performance of a student has been significantly affected by personal circumstances, it may recommend various courses of action to the Board of Examiners.
A Mitigating Circumstances Panel cannot authorise for a substitute examination to be permitted, in the event that a scheduled exam was missed.
A Mitigating Circumstances sub-panel can authorise an extension to a coursework deadline where mitigation is accepted.
Students have no right to appeal against the decision of a Mitigating Circumstances Panel, although they can appeal against the final decision of an Examination Board, or equivalent body, under regulation XIX (Academic Appeals Procedure).
Applications for mitigation are treated with confidentiality and anonymity where possible.
When you submit a medical note or other certified evidence of mitigating circumstances in relation to your attendance or assessment (examinations and/or coursework), you will be giving your consent:
- to that document being recorded on your manual file; and
- to the details being recorded on any electronic file relating to your performance in assessment; and
- to the details being disclosed to University of Manchester personnel having a need to see them in the course of their work.
Discussions with a third party regarding a student's progress or circumstances
There is a contract between the student and the University. A student may authorise a third party to act as his/her agent but unless this authorisation is given in writing then members of staff are unable to discuss issues regarding students (medical, academic or other issues) with third parties.
The basic guide to Mitigating Circumstances aims to make the process of mitigation easier to understand.
The Students’ Union Advice Centre have also created a guide on mitigating circumstances and can offer impartial advice on your circumstances, help you prepare your mitigation application and support you throughout the process.