Student Rights: Extenuating Circumstances

VP Education Kate Roberts gives you the lowdown on what extenuating circumstances are, when you should apply for them and how you can get help with them.

Welcome to our mini blog series on your academic rights as a student!

At the SU we are here to represent your academic interests and improve your education, a key part of this relies on you, as students, being aware of your rights and what you should expect from your academic experience.

To ensure you have all the tools you need to successfully complete your studies, we've created a dedicated page where all my blogs will be in one place should you ever want to check back over things.

Student Rights Hub

We know that sometimes life happens slap bang in the middle of assignments. For times like these, there are extenuating circumstances (ECs). In this blog, I am going to give you the lowdown on what they are, when you should apply for them and how you can get help with them.

What are extenuating circumstances?

These count as instances or issues which are outside of your control, and which may temporarily prevent you from undertaking an assessment, or have a significant detrimental impact on your ability to undertake an assessment to the standard normally expected. Extenuating circumstances are things that are outside of your control as they are unforeseeable and unpreventable.

The College has the ability to make allowances for when such circumstances arise through the extenuating circumstances process. First and foremost, it’s really important that you inform your department, staff from Student Services, or at the Students’ Union Advice Centre at the earliest opportunity so that we can let you know what necessary steps you need to take next.

How can the SU help?

To give you a helping hand, the Advice Centre will be holding drop-ins closer to the deadline to answer any questions you have relating to extenuating circumstances. Alternatively, you can email to request an appointment. If you’re going through anything which you feel is affecting your studies, then ask to speak to our Academic Advisor at the SU, to go over any concerns you have.

Some examples of extenuating circumstances are:

  • Illness (excluding minor illnesses)
  • Hospitalisation
  • Bereavement
  • Worsening of a long-term condition
  • Major adverse family circumstances
  • Acute personal circumstances

Some issues that will not be considered as extenuating circumstances include:

  • Short-term illness (coughs, colds, sore throats, etc.)
  • Computer/tech failure
  • Transport issues
  • ‘General exam stress’ (unlinked to mental illness)

It’s important to bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive and if you think that your personal circumstances are impacting your academic performance then you can speak more about this during an appointment.

When is the deadline?

For undergraduate students, the next deadline for submitting your extenuating circumstances form along with relevant supporting evidence is Tuesday 2 June at 12pm. For postgraduate taught students, your next deadline is Friday 26 June at 12pm. It is the student’s responsibility to submit ECs and submit the relevant proof to support a claim.

How do I apply for extenuating circumstances?

The form has moved online and you can find it here. It is a click-through process and you will have the opportunity to upload supporting evidence. It is important to note that applications without evidence will not be considered and the burden of proof does lie with you, the student. If you need guidance on what to use as evidence, our Advice Centre will be able to help you.

'Understanding extenuating circumstances' - academic rep event

If you're an academic rep, we're running an interactive workshop on Wednesday 26 February to introduce you to extenuating circumstances, formal complaints and interrupting studies, as well as looking into how these issues affect students after they graduate or drop out. Join our Advice Centre to put your problem-solving skills to the test by analysing students' routes and hurdles in the context of their lives, beliefs and needs.

Email to book your place. 

Check out the event

One last thing to note

If you have not failed any courses but the passing marks you have achieved are lower than you believe they should be, the College's Extenuating Circumstances Committee is normally not able to recommend any action to the School Progression and Awards Board. They may, however, recommend to School Progression and Awards Board to take this into account in your final year when classifying you, for example, if your final average is very close to the zone of consideration for raising to the next classification band. They may decide to request a suspension of regulations; however, these are only granted in very exceptional circumstances by the Executive Committee for Assessment and there is no guarantee that such requests will be approved. You are strongly advised to read the relevant section on extenuating circumstances in the College regulations and Extenuating Circumstances guidance for students so that you are aware of the options that the School Progression and Awards Board has available.

Remember, these processes are in place to be a support for you during your time at Royal Holloway. If you need help understanding/completing the process, or want to discuss extenuating circumstances further, please contact the Advice Centre. They are an independent and confidential service offering impartial advice. You can email them at Alternatively, you can book an appointment via the Students’ Union Helpdesk either in person or by calling 01784 276700.

Kate Roberts // Vice President Education