Exceptional Circumstances: The Guide

Sometimes, life can throw unexpected and unavoidable things your way that impact your ability to complete your work. That's when Exceptional Circumstances comes in...


What is 'Exceptional Circumstances'?

Exceptional Circumstances is the name the University gives to the process of applying for additional time/accommodations on deadlines and exams if a student's work is affected by unexpected and unavoidable events in their life. This system means that you can still be given a fair chance to reach your potential, even if life feels like it's getting in your way. However, this process can be pretty strict and always requires proof of the life events you've experienced and how you could not have anticipated or avoided them.

What to do Before Applying?

The most important thing to do when you feel like life is affecting your academic performance is to seek help as soon as you notice the issue. This could be talking to the University's Wellbeing team if your mental health is impacted, reporting any crime committed against you to the police or contacting Victim Support, or using the Report and Support service for serious issues involving another student. Be sure to keep all paperwork and correspondence from this, as you may need it as supporting evidence later!

This early point is also the ideal time to inform your lecturer, academic mentor, or course leader. Ensuring your lecturing staff are filled in on your circumstances can allow them to support you within the modules you are struggling with, whilst also pre-warning them that you may be receiving an Exceptional Circumstances accommodation and they may need to work with you to be aware of what that looks like for different modules/assignments.

When Can I Apply?

While the issue may present itself early in the semester, we recommend that you do not apply for Exceptional Circumstances more than three weeks before your deadline. If you apply too early, the University could reject your application on the basis that you have plenty of time to catch up.

It is important to remember that you can apply for Exceptional Circumstances after your deadline/hand-in date, but the absolute, non-negotiable cut-off to apply is two weeks after your original deadline. You must apply by this date, or your application will be rejected.

What Counts as 'Evidence'?

Evidence for Exceptional Circumstances looks different in every case, but it needs to be undeniable and supported by something other than your own account of the situation. Good examples of this can be a doctor's note or hospital discharge paperwork if you had a serious health crisis during the semester or a death certificate if you are unfortunate enough to lose someone close to you whilst studying. 

If you are struggling to find evidence for your claim, please consult the University's own EC guidance, or book an appointment to chat with our Union Advisors.

How do I Apply?

To apply for Exceptional Circumstances, log into your e:VisionStaffs Portal and follow the links via My Student Information and Support > Exceptional Circumstances > Create a new claim and view previous claims. Then, simply follow the prompts within the form. Be sure to double-check that you have attached your evidence and clicked submit! It's a silly but surprisingly easy mistake to make!

Important Notes

Many students who are in a position to apply for EC can feel pressured into using AI to complete work, paying for an online essay-writing service, or plagiarising in an attempt to submit something on time. It is crucial you do not take any of these options, as all of these actions can result in you being removed from your course entirely. Similarly, be sure you do not submit any work with unfinished or incorrectly formatted referencing, as this can also tip your work into the zone of plagiarism.

Also, it is crucial to note that if you are repeating a year or have applied before (even if the application was not upheld), you could fall foul of the maximum period of registration rules.

Helpful Links

Staffordshire University's Exceptional Circumstances Guide: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/students/course-administration/exceptional-circumstances

Full Details: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/students/course-administration/academic-policies-and-regulations/exceptional-circumstances-procedure

Guide to Evidence: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/students/course-administration/guidance-on-providing-evidence

Staffordshire University Wellbeing Services: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/students/support/student-wellbeing-and-safeguarding/home

How to find and register with a GP: https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/common-questions/how-do-i-choose-and-register-with-a-gp/

Other sources of support: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/students/support/student-wellbeing-and-safeguarding/other-sources-of-support