Extenuating circumstances for undergraduates

 

The following advice applies to undergraduate students only.

Students would ordinarily apply for extenuating circumstances when something has affected their ability to submit coursework or their performance in an exam, including stopping them for attending an exam altogether.

There are strict criteria for what situations constitute valid extenuating circumstances, and a process students need to follow in order to make an extenuating circumstances claim.

The process and effects of extenuating circumstances are different for coursework and exams, so please read our advice carefully.

 

You can find the extenuation form here.

You can find the late extenuation form here.

 

Please click the links to take you to a relevant section.

 

Introduction to extenuating circumstances
 

What makes a valid extenuating circumstances claim? What are the criteria?

What are examples of situations that would normally be regarded as extenuating circumstances?

What are examples of situations that wouldn’t normally be regarded for extenuating circumstances?

Can I claim extenuation if I have been affected by my disability or long-term health condition?

Can I make a claim if my component is already capped, including during the Summer Resit Period?

Does an extenuation claim give me an automatic right at further module attempts, or does it affect my progression?

 

Making a claim for coursework
 

When can I make an extenuation claim for coursework?

What effect will making an extenuation claim have?

Can extenuating circumstances grant me an extension to my deadline?

I handed in my work within 7 days, but I've yet to submit an extenuation form and 7 days have passed. What can I do?

Can I make an extenuation claim for my dissertation/thesis?

Can I make an extenuation claim for group work?

When is the deadline for making an extenuation claim?

What happens if I miss the deadline to claim extenuation?

Where do I submit my extenuation claim?

What happens if I cannot submit my evidence at the same time as my claim form due to a delay?

 

Making a claim for exams
 

When can I make an extenuation claim of an exam?

I have sat my exam and tried my best, but I think I may have failed. Can I make a claim?

What effect will making an extenuation claim have?

What happens if I miss the deadline to claim extenuation?

Where do I submit my extenuation claim?

What happens if I cannot submit my evidence at the same time as my claim form due to a delay?

 

General advice on writing an extenuation claim
 

How should I write about my situation on the claim form?

What evidence will I need when submitting an extenuation claim?

I’m submitting a claim for a thesis/dissertation. Do I need to supply further evidence?

A member of my family has passed away and I want to make a claim. What evidence will I need?

Will a letter of support from a tutor, lecturer or other UEL staff member be useful?

Will medical evidence obtained after I recover from my illness be useful?

Can I submit evidence written in a foreign language? Will it need to be translated?

Can I refer the panel to speak to someone such as a GP or other professional?

 

What happens after my extenuation claim has been submitted?
 

Can I withdraw an extenuation claim once it has been submitted?

Can I submit extenuation claim as an insurance against failing and withdraw it later?

Who makes the decision as to whether my claim was accepted?

When will I hear back about the result of my extenuation claim?

How can I find the result of my extenuation claim?

What do the codes against my modules/components that I have claimed for mean?

Will the panel contact me if they require further evidence?

I have found out that my claim was rejected, what can I do?

 

 

Introduction to extenuating circumstances

 

What makes a valid extenuating circumstances claim? What are the criteria?

There are three criteria that must be met before an extenuation claim can be accepted.

The situation must be unforeseeable, unpreventable, and have a serious impact on your ability to submit on time or impact on your exam.

Unforeseeable

The policy states that this means “that you could have no prior knowledge of the event concerned”.

The extenuation panel will normally consider something as unforeseeable if the circumstance are something that has happened unexpectedly since the Term began.  If your extenuation is based on something that has occurred before the Term started then the panel may not consider it as “unforeseeable” and therefore this may not constitute a legitimate extenuation claim.

Unpreventable

The policy states that this means “that you could do nothing reasonably in your power to prevent such an event”

Serious impact on your ability to submit on time or impact on an exam

You must be able to demonstrate that what happened has led to you missing a deadline or exam, or has seriously affected your performance in an exam.

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What are examples of situations that would normally be regarded as extenuating circumstances?

While there are many situations that could arguably count as unforeseeable, unpreventable and serious there are some common situations that would normally be accepted as a valid extenuation claim.

Serious personal illness (which is not a permanent medical condition)

The policy defines this with an example such as “an illness requiring hospitalisation over the examination period such as appendicitis”.

Many illnesses are serious. The key here for an extenuation claim would be that your illness was serious enough to prevent you being able to submit, affected your performance in an exam, or stopped you attending an exam.

Bereavement

The policy defines this as “the death of a close relative immediately prior to the date of assessment”. In practice we would usually define this as a bereavement that has occurred within a month of the deadline, but we realise that bereavement can affect different people in different ways.

If a bereavement has occurred more than a month before your deadline or exam we would encourage you to seek written evidence from your GP, as well as a death certificate (see our section on required evidence below)

Eviction

The policy defines this as “if you have been, or are about to be evicted from your residence”.

Victim of crime

Pregnancy and childbirth

This area is not covered under the extenuation policy but rather the Student Maternity, Paternity, Pregnancy and Adoption Policy. There are some circumstances where an expectant mothers due date may fall across the exam or deadline period, and in this case the student may not be able to attend or submit their work.

We would advise students in this situation to come and see us for an appointment and further advice.

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What are examples of situations that wouldn’t normally be regarded for extenuating circumstances?

While there are many situations that could arguably count as unforeseeable, unpreventable and serious there are some common situations that wouldn’t normally be accepted as a valid extenuation claim.

Minor illness (even if covered by medical certificates)

University guidance states that “these may have some impact but not a serious impact and so would not be regarded as extenuating circumstances”. An example could be a common cold.

Computer failure (as well as storage media and printing)

The University expects students to take care when using computer equipment and ensure that students back up their work across several types of storage media, and not store them on one device. They recommend you back up your work on your UEL home area.

This means that the university consider these circumstances foreseeable.

Failure of university systems (for less than 24 hours, including turnitin)

The University guidance in this area states that “network failures do happen and you should plan to finish your work before the last minute” and that students finishing work at the last minute open themselves up to risk.

We would argue that if a university system fails and prevents submission a student should submit an academic appeal [LINK], rather than an extenuation claim.

Transport problems

Transport problems are deemed foreseeable as students are expected to make plenty of time to meet deadlines for submission or attend exams, checking service updates and traffic reports.

Moving house (but not eviction)

As you know what date you would move home this is deemed foreseeable and UEL expects students to work around this.

Holidays

Holidays booked over exam or deadline periods are never recommended. We would always recommend students do not book holidays abroad during the resit period either, in case of failures.

Misreading assessment timetables

Family, work, social, financial “or other general problems”

The university deems these issues to be issues that “normally we all have to deal with in every day life”. However, we would encourage students to seek further support from the Advice Service if they feel their problems fall into this area, as we may be able to help.

Incorrect deadline or exam dates published by the School

If this occurs we would usually recommend a student see us regarding making an academic appeal.

Other appeal/complaint issues

Some issues which are unforeseeable, unpreventable and serious may have occurred due to university error. These issues would usually be an appeal or complaints for which we would advise you make an appointment to see an advisor.

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Can I claim extenuation if I have been affected by my disability or long-term health condition?

Ongoing medical circumstances and disabilities are not normally considered for extenuation as the impact of those is often foreseeable and the University expects you to seek appropriate support from the Disability and Dyslexia Team (DDT).  However students in such situations can apply for extenuating circumstances if they can demonstrate that there has been an unforeseeable and unpreventable increase in the severity of their condition or symptoms that has had a serious impact on their ability to do the work.

Where students have long term or ongoing medical circumstances it can be harder for extenuation claims to be accepted. A student with such a condition may be able to submit an extenuation claim on the grounds that their condition, though ongoing/long term, is normally manageable and controlled and that the student has experienced a significant and unpredictable/unforeseeable flare up in the condition close to the deadline or exams that has had a significant impact on the student's ability to submit the work on time or attend exams.

In submitting a claim along these lines you will usually need to demonstrate that the flare happened close to the deadline or exam and ideally no more than a month before hand. The further back from the deadline or exams you experienced the flare up the less likely that the extenuation case will be successful.

This is because the extenuation panel may consider the circumstances to be foreseeable if you had enough time to plan and prepare your work or revision around such a flare up or if you had enough time to be able to intermit your studies.

To this end it is important that you clearly and explicitly includes the dates of when you experienced the flare up and for how long it had affected you for. Also, any further details as to the symptoms and the impact upon your ability to complete your work or sit your exams would also be useful.

Also essential to a successful extenuation claim is providing medical evidence that verifies what you have claimed in the written statement on the extenuation form. This evidence should be some form of documented information from an official source such as a GP, Consultant or some other suitably qualified professional.

Ideally the evidence should explain that the GP/consultant etc has seen you and that you have experienced a significant flare up of an otherwise manageable situation, which has had particular symptoms that have impaired your ability to submit the work or attend your exam.

For strong extenuation claims the letter will need to state explicitly that this has been the case for a particular period of time (the doctor will need to state how long) up to and including the present time (or a time that includes the date of the deadline or immediately before). If the letter states that you have been prescribed particular treatment, such as resting and avoiding stressful activity then this would be useful. If you have been on medication then it would be useful for the letter to state any side effects that may have impaired your ability to submit the work or attend exams on time.

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Can I make a claim if my component is already capped, including during the Summer Resit Period?

Yes, but only in specific circumstances.

Normally a claim cannot be submitted if a component is already capped due to an earlier failure which had no valid extenuation claim granted against it.

However, during the summer resit period you can submit an extenuation claim if you intend to submit your work within 7 days. If the claim is accepted the work will be marked but you will remain capped at 40%.

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Does an extenuation claim give me an automatic right at further module attempts, or does it affect my progression?

University guidance states that “decisions on student progression are made by subject area progression boards. The board will look at your overall performance on your degree programme. The board will consider recommendations from the Extenuation Panel in deciding future options but are not bound by them.”

In practice the Board would consider your extenuation claims and this can have an effect on your progression decision.

Once you miss a deadline or exam you move immediately from one attempt to another. For example if you miss your deadline for coursework in May (Attempt 1), even if you claim for extenuation and this is granted you would still move to Attempt 2 for the Summer Resit Period.

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Making a claim for coursework

 

When can I make an extenuation claim for coursework?

For coursework you can only submit for extenuation once you have missed a deadline. If you hand something in on time you cannot claim for extenuation.

Extenuation cannot be claimed within the first 24 hours after the deadline has passed because students cannot submit an extenuation claim if they hand work in within 24 hours of the deadline passing.

This is because if you do hand the work in late within the first 24 hours of the deadline passing, your work will be marked and you will receive a 5% deduction on your work.

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What effect will making an extenuation claim have?

There are two scenarios for extenuation for a missed coursework deadline.

  1. You submit the work within 7 days of the deadline passing. You can submit the work within the seven day period (but not within the first 24 hours) alongside an extenuation claim, and if the extenuation claim is accepted then the work will be marked and whatever mark the work achieves will stand.
     
  2. Alternatively if you don’t hand in any work then the assessment will be deferred to the next opportunity and if any late extenuation claim is accepted then the marks will be protected and will remain uncapped so long as you were already uncapped in the first place.

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Can extenuating circumstances grant me an extension to my deadline?

You can submit the work within 7 days of the deadline (but not within the first 24 hours, as above) and if a claim is submitted and accepted the work will be marked and the grade released to you uncapped, so long as you are not already capped.

We try not to call this an extension to the deadline as if the claim is rejected your work will fail and you will be capped and 40% for the resit attempt in the summer reassessment period.

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I handed in my work within 7 days, but I've yet to submit an extenuation form and 7 days have passed. What can I do?

You can still submit a late extenuation claim (see below) and if this is accepted the mark would still be released uncapped. You would need to provide an explanation as to why the claim was late.

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Can I make an extenuation claim for my dissertation/thesis?

The university deem it to be “unusual” for a student to submit extenuation for a dissertation or thesis. They say that this is because this is “planned and written over a long period of time”.

If you do submit extenuation for a thesis or dissertation you must supply evidence from your supervisor showing that you were making “satisfactory progress” with the work before your circumstances occurred, and if it were not for the circumstances occurring you would have submitted on time.

You could also submit examples of your feedback on drafts or supervision records to show you were on track until the circumstances occurred.

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Can I make an extenuation claim for group work?

University guidance states “Extenuation claims can be considered for non-submission of group coursework.  You should however bear in mind that members of the group are expected to work together to produce the group output – this is so even in the case of the absence of a member of the group.

Please also note that each member of the group will have to submit their own extenuation form and supply their own evidence.  Group applications for extenuation are not accepted.”

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When is the deadline for making an extenuation claim?

You must submit an extenuation claim for coursework within 7 calendar days of the deadline passing.

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What happens if I miss the deadline to claim extenuation?

If you have missed the 7 day window in which to submit your extenuation form then you will need to complete the Late Extenuation form as well, explaining why the extenuation claim is being submitted late and providing evidence if necessary.

The later the claim the more difficult it becomes to provide evidence and a good argument as to why it is late.

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Where do I submit my extenuation claim?

To the Hub, either in person or via thehub@uel.ac.uk or through UEL Direct.

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What happens if I cannot submit my evidence at the same time as my claim form due to a delay?

You can submit your evidence separately from the claim form within 5 days of submitting your extenuation claim.

Do not delay submitting an extenuation claim if you are waiting for evidence, you must meet the deadline.

You must explain on the extenuation form under the relevant section why your evidence is late.

Submit your late evidence to the Hub either in person or via thehub@uel.ac.uk, or through UEL Direct. We would advise you attach the evidence to a late extenuation form so that it is not mislaid.

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Making a claim for exams

 

When can I make an extenuation claim for an exam?

You can submit a claim for exams by the first Tuesday after the last week of exams. Please refer to the academic calendar.

For 2015/16 the first Tuesday after the last week of exams are:

Term 1 exams – 19th January 2016

Term 2 exams – 31st May 2016

Resit exams – 26th July 2016

If your claim is submitted after these dates your claim will be late.

You should only make a claim after the exam date has passed, not before.

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I have sat my exam and tried my best, but I think I may have failed. Can I make a claim?

Yes, you can claim for exams you have both missed and ones you have attended if you believe that your performance was seriously impaired by your situation.

If you do claim extenuation for an exam that you have attended then if your claim is successful your exam grade will be wiped. Even if your grade was a good one this will still be wiped and you will have to re-sit uncapped. Extenuation claims cannot be revoked after they have been submitted.

If you sit the exams and make an extenuation claim which is rejected then your exam grade will still be wiped and you will be capped for the re-sit. This will be the case even if you passed the exam.

To submit a claim for an exam that you have sat is to forfeit the result of the exam and accept you will have to resit. The granting or rejection of an extenuation claim will decide whether you are capped or not.

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What effect will making an extenuation claim have?

If your claim is accepted you will be uncapped at your resit so long as you were already uncapped in the first place.

If you do claim extenuation for an exam that you have attended then if your claim is successful your exam grade will be wiped. Even if your grade was a good one this will still be wiped and you will have to re-sit uncapped. Extenuation claims cannot be revoked after they have been submitted.

If you sit the exams and make an extenuation claim which is rejected then your exam grade will still be wiped and you will be capped for the re-sit. This will be the case even if you passed the exam.

To submit a claim for an exam that you have sat is to forfeit the result of the exam and accept you will have to resit. The granting or rejection of an extenuation claim will decide whether you are capped or not.

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What happens if I miss the deadline to claim extenuation?

If you have missed the 7 day window in which to submit your extenuation form then you will need to complete the Late Extenuation form as well, explaining why the extenuation claim is being submitted late and providing evidence if necessary.

The later the claim the more difficult it becomes to provide evidence and a good argument as to why it is late.

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Where do I submit my extenuation claim?

To the Hub, either in person or via thehub@uel.ac.uk or through UEL Direct.

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What happens if I cannot submit my evidence at the same time as my claim form due to a delay?

You can submit your evidence separately from the claim form within 5 days of submitting your extenuation claim.

Do not delay submitting an extenuation claim if you are waiting for evidence, you must meet the deadline.

You must explain on the extenuation form under the relevant section why your evidence is late.

Submit your late evidence to the Hub either in person or via thehub@uel.ac.uk, or through UEL Direct. We would advise you attach the evidence to a late extenuation form so that it is not mislaid.

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General advice on writing an extenuation claim

 

How should I write about my situation on the claim form?

Section 3 of the claim form will ask you to describe your situation and give you guidance on how to do so.

However we would recommend you follow this format:

What happened?

Explain what happened in your situation, concisely but giving relevant details. This is just a factual account of what happened.

When did it happen?

While doing the above, give clear dates and times so that the panel has a clear timeline of what has happened.

How did the situation affect you?

You can explain here how this made you feel, how it affected you, and crucially how it affected your studies and your ability to either submit your work on time, attend an exam, or perform well in an exam.

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What evidence will I need when submitting an extenuation claim?

You need to provide evidence with your claims to verify the circumstances that have happened.  The evidence needs to include and explain important details such as when circumstances occurred, how long they have affected you for, what the circumstances are and what impact they have had on your ability to sit the exam.  The evidence should also demonstrate how the circumstances meet the extenuation criteria. For example, something dated prior to the semester starting may not demonstrate an unforeseeable circumstance.

Evidence should normally be some kind of formal documentation, letter or certificate and should be clear, explicit and written in English.

In most cases this will be medical documentation. Please ask your doctor to write either a letter or fitness to work note that covers the above.

Photographs, prescriptions, and appointment letters will not be accepted as evidence.

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I’m submitting a claim for a thesis/dissertation. Do I need to supply further evidence?

Yes. If you are claiming for a dissertation or thesis please obtain a statement from your supervisor or tutor stating that if it wasn’t for the situation giving rise to your extenuation claim you would have been able to submit on time, and you were otherwise on track with the work.

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A member of my family has passed away and I want to make a claim. What evidence will I need?

You will need to supply a death certificate. In addition to this, if you have a different surname from the deceased you must provide evidence of your relationship. This will usually be your birth or marriage certificate, or that of a family member such as your mother or father, showing a link between you.

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Will a letter of support from a tutor, lecturer or other UEL staff member be useful?

Unfortunately this kind of evidence is not usually acceptable, unless if you are submitting a claim for a dissertation or thesis.

If you are claiming for a dissertation or thesis please obtain a statement from your supervisor or tutor stating that if it wasn’t for the situation giving rise to your extenuation claim you would have been able to submit on time, and you were otherwise on track with the work.

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Will medical evidence obtained after I recover from my illness be useful?

Yes, but only if you saw a medical professional at the time of your illness and they can verify your situation and how long this affected you for.

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Can I submit evidence written in a foreign language? Will it need to be translated?

You will need to get such evidence translated. Submit a copy of the original untranslated document as well as the translation.

You will need to finance the translation yourself.

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Can I refer the panel to speak to someone such as a GP or other professional?

Unfortunately not. You must provide all evidence, the panel will not be able to contact someone to obtain this on your behalf.

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What happens after my extenuation claim has been submitted?

 

Can I withdraw an extenuation claim once it has been submitted?

Ordinarily you cannot withdraw an extenuation claim once it has been submitted. If you are in a situation where having claimed extenuation may put you at a disadvantage please contact the Advice team for an appointment and further guidance.

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Can I submit extenuation claim as an insurance against failing and withdraw it later?

No, you cannot do this. Extenuation claims are ordinarily final and cannot be withdrawn. Making a claim in this way can put you at a disadvantage, especially for exams. Please see the answer above.

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Who makes the decision as to whether my claim was accepted?

A panel of UEL staff members and academics meet on a regular basis to review claims, ordinarily once a term. Between these meetings a claim may be reviewed by the panel Chair.

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When will I hear back about the result of my extenuation claim?

Results of extenuation claims are released at the same time as your module results at the end of each term.

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How can I find the result of my extenuation claim?

Please check UEL Direct under My Records, My Programme, Module Results. You can also get further information about your claim under My Records, My Programme, Extenuation results.

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What do the codes against my modules/components that I have claimed for mean?

There are various codes used to convey an extenuation claim result. They are as follows:

G – Extenuation granted for exams or non-submission of coursework. This means your claim was accepted and you should be uncapped.

PG – You have passed at attempt 3 where an extenuation claim was granted at attempt 2 (resit). You would be uncapped.

KP – Pass, for an exam only, but your claim was rejected.

KF – Fail, for an exam only, and your claim was rejected.

KN – You did not submit coursework or attend and exam and your claim was rejected.

LP – You submitted your coursework within 7 days of the deadline and your extenuation claim was accepted. Your grade will be released to you uncapped.

LF – You submitted your coursework within 7 days of the deadline and your claim was accepted. However, when the work was marked it unfortunately failed and a mark was given by your assessor below 40%

LK – You submitted your coursework within 7 days of the deadline and your claim was rejected. Therefore, the grade for your work cannot be released and you must resit.

GR – Usually placed against components. Extenuation was granted and you will move to reassessment in this component uncapped.

GE – Usually placed against components. Extenuation was granted and you must resit the module (including all components) uncapped.

KA – Usually placed against exam components. The extenuation was rejected for an exam that you attended. Your exam grade has unfortunately been wiped and you must resit capped.

PS – Usually placed against exam components. The extenuation was granted for an exam you attended. Your component is capped.

PT – Usually placed against components. Your extenuation claim was granted but you did not submit, or did not attend an exam. Your component is capped.

 

Codes other than the above are not extenuation codes. If you have codes other than the above and you have made an extenuation claim please contact the Hub. Failing this please email studentadvice@uel.ac.uk

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Will the panel contact me if they require further evidence?

No, the panel will not contact you in this way. If your claim is rejected please see the answer below.

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I have found out that my claim was rejected, what can I do?

If your extenuation claim has been rejected we would recommend you contact us via studentadvice@uel.ac.uk giving us the following details:
 

Your name:

Your student number:

The School you study in:

The term within you made a claim:

 

What we can do in the case of a rejected extenuation claim is to go across to the department, take a look at your claim and provide you with an explanation for why it was rejected. This saves you coming in for an appointment as this is what we would usually advise.

If possible we can also suggest if there is any way to have this outcome changed, i.e by providing further evidence.

We will then get back to you once I’ve reviewed the claim with advice on a way forward. This can potentially take one to two weeks so please bear with us while we do this for you.

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