Good Cause - Key FAQs for students (December 2018)

Good Cause - Key FAQs for students (December 2018)

Illness or other difficulties affecting examinations - here's some important information

Good Cause – What is it?

We recognise that illness or other adverse circumstances can affect your attendance or performance at exams.

‘Good Cause’ is the term we use to refer to our regulations for making appropriate allowance for unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances which have affected your assessments.

If you want us to make allowance for such circumstances you MUST report your circumstances to the University through MyCampus, by submitting a Good Cause claim.

Further details are available in the MyCampus Good Cause Guide.


I am unwell for my exam

Do not attend if you are in the infectious stage of an illness, e.g. chickenpox.

In other cases, you need to decide whether you feel well enough to get to the exam and sit it.

If you are unsure you are advised to seriously consider taking the exam as you may still submit a Good Cause claim afterwards if you believe that you underperformed due to the illness.

If you miss your exam:

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. from your Doctor, to support your Good Cause claim.
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

If you attend your exam, but feel that your illness caused you to underperform:

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. from your Doctor, to support your claim.
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

Before you submit a claim, make sure you understand the possible outcomes from such a claim. Note: grades are NEVER increased through a Good Cause claim.

See ‘What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?’


I have been unwell during revision time

If you feel that being unwell during revision time has caused you to underperform in your exams, you may submit a Good Cause claim.

You should attend your exams if you feel well enough on the day. If you are too unwell to take your exam, see I am unwell for my exam.

If you attend your exam, but feel that having been unwell caused you to underperform:

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. from your Doctor, to support your claim.
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

Before you submit a claim, make sure you understand the possible outcomes from such a claim. Note: grades are NEVER increased through a Good Cause claim. (See ‘What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?’)


I have suffered a bereavement

If someone close to you has sadly passed away we understand that this could disrupt your exam revision.

In most cases we would advise you to try to attend your exams, although only you can decide whether you feel able to, and if there is a funeral at the time of your exams, we understand that you will want to be there.

If you miss your exam:

  1. Seek evidence to support your claim
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

If you attend your exam, but feel that your bereavement caused you to underperform:

  1. Seek evidence to support your claim
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

Before you submit a claim, make sure you understand the possible outcomes from such a claim. Note: grades are NEVER increased through a Good Cause claim. (See ‘What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?’)


A close relative/friend has been seriously ill and it has affected my exam preparation – what should I do?

If you feel your exam preparation has been compromised by these difficulties (perhaps you have been needed to care for that person or make frequent visits to the hospital), you may be able to submit a Good Cause claim.

If you are able to, you should attend your exam.

If you miss your exam:

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. medical evidence relating to your relative/friend to support your claim
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.
  3. In your claim, you must explain how events have prevented you from attending your exam

If you attend your exam, but feel that your circumstances caused you to underperform:

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. medical evidence relating to your relative/friend to support your claim
  2. Submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.
  3. In your claim, you must explain how events have impacted on you and your preparation for the exam.

Before you submit a claim, make sure you understand the possible outcomes from such a claim. (See ‘What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?’)


I had to attend a family crisis at the time of my exam – what should I do?

If you have missed an exam due to a significant family crisis, you should submit a Good Cause claim.

  1. Seek evidence, e.g. medical information, or a supporting letter from an independent responsible person or organisation, to support your claim.
  2. You must submit your Good Cause claim on MyCampus within five working days of the exam (if your evidence arrives later you can add this to the claim, but the claim MUST be started within the five working day period). Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

Before you submit a claim, make sure you understand the possible outcomes from such a claim. (See ‘What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?’)


What circumstances would be considered as Good Cause?

We want to know about serious issues that you believe have prevented you from taking an assessment or significantly impaired your performance in an assessment. We mean circumstances that are beyond your control such as:

  • Serious or incapacitating injury, illness or medical condition or emergency operation.
  • Significant short-term mental ill-health.
  • A long-term or chronic physical health condition, which has recently worsened significantly.
  • A long-term or chronic mental health condition, which has recently worsened significantly.
  • A significant family or personal crisis (e.g. bereavement or serious illness affecting someone close to you such as a family member, friend or partner).
  • Jury Service or Court attendance.
  • Unforeseen, unpreventable events (e.g. being a victim of a crime which is likely to have significant emotional impact, being involved in a road traffic incident, a housing crisis, Military conflict, or natural disaster).
  • Extreme travel disruption on your way to the exam, which could not have been foreseen. (You are expected to take reasonable steps to allow for some cancellation/delays.)

What circumstances would NOT be considered?

Students are expected to cope with difficulties, problems and minor illnesses that occur in normal life in the same way as everyone does at work or at home. The following are examples of circumstances which would not normally be considered:

  • A long-term or chronic health condition (including mental ill-health) which has not significantly worsened recently, or for which the University has already made a reasonable adjustment.
  • A minor short-term illness or injury (e.g. a common cold), which would not reasonably have had a significant adverse impact on assessment.
  • Personal/domestic events that could have been planned for.
  • Choices in personal life (e.g. attending weddings, holidays.).
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Failure or theft of your computer or other equipment being used to produce the work to be assessed, including work not being backed-up.
  • Poor management of time or misunderstanding of deadlines/dates (including failure of others to submit group assignments).
  • Commitments to paid or voluntary employment.

You should therefore take appropriate steps to minimise the impact of such events as these are unlikely to be accepted as valid claims under Good Cause.

It is normal for exams to be associated with a degree of stress and anxiety which would not be sufficient to be considered as Good Cause. See the self-help resources:

#LookAfterYourself with the Exam De-Stress Events, brought to you by the SRC, GUSA, QMU & GUU.

Counselling & Psychological Services self help.


Are long-term or chronic circumstances accepted?

No, unless you have a temporary serious flare-up of a chronic condition at the time of your assessments.

Good Cause regulations relate only to short-term issues that may have affected attendance at exams, submission of other assessments, or your performance in assessments. In other words, issues that have prevented you from demonstrating in your assessments what you have learned through your studies.

If you have on-going difficulties which are impacting on your ability to fully engage in your studies and assessments, you should seek support through the Disability Service.

See also the Fitness to Study Procedure, which will help to identify appropriate adjustments to support your learning and assessment.


I missed a lot of lectures and tutorials due to ill health but feel better now and sat the exam. Should I make a GC claim so that this can be taken into account

No. Good Cause regulations relate only to short-term issues that may have affected attendance at exams, submission of other assessments, or your performance in assessments. In other words, issues that have prevented you from demonstrating in your assessments what you have learned through your studies.

If you have been unable to fully engage in your studies during the semester, you should speak to your Adviser of Studies about the best course of action.


How long do I have to make a claim?

You only have five working days from the date of the exam to initiate your claim on MyCampus, otherwise it is deemed to be late and will not be accepted without good reason for not submitting on time.

Evidence to support your claim can be uploaded later, but the claim MUST be STARTED on MyCampus within five working days. This applies both to exams that you have missed and to exams that you attended but where you believe your performance was significantly affected. Please see MyCampus Good Cause Guide.

If you are unable to make a claim on MyCampus by the deadline:

You should make every effort to submit a claim on time, however we recognise that occasionally this may not be possible (for e.g. if you are in hospital and unable to access the system). In such cases you should still try to make contact with your School or Adviser to let them know that you have missed the deadline but intend to make a claim as soon as you can.

You can, in extreme circumstances, ask a friend or family member to pass a message on if you are unable to make direct contact. This will also help us to understand your current difficulties and advise you of any support that may be available.


What evidence do I need to provide if I make a Good Cause claim?

For any type of evidence, the relevant dates must be included to show how the circumstances impacted on your assessment.

For medical matters evidence could be a letter from a:

  • GP
  • Consultant
  • Hospital
  • Clinic

Such letters could include: a hospital report; a doctor’s report; a doctor’s “Fit Note”; a formal notification of a hospital or clinic appointment.

The above evidence would also apply if the health circumstances you are reporting relate to a close relative or friend. In such cases you would need to explain in your claim why you were affected and, in the case of a hospital appointment, why it was essential that you accompanied that person.

For cases where there has been a short-term worsening of a long-term (chronic) condition you can seek a supporting letter from any relevant service you have already been registered with for support for the long-term condition such as your:

  • Disability Advisor
  • Counsellor in the Counselling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • GP

For personal circumstances which are not health related, you should seek to provide a letter or document from an independent responsible person (or organisation), with their contact details provided, who can vouch for the circumstances you are reporting, such as:

  • A support service which has been assisting you with the issue (e.g. a social worker or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau)
  • The Police (e.g. crime report or accident report with reference numbers)
  • The Court, Crown Prosecution Service or a solicitor
  • An insurance company (e.g. in relation to road traffic incident)
  • A member of staff who was alerted to the circumstances at the time
  • A religious or community leader

In the case of a bereavement, you should provide a letter from an independent person (usually not a family member) with their contact details provided, as well as a view on the closeness of the relationship to you. A death certificate, funeral notice, or order of service are other forms of acceptable evidence.

Letters of support from personal friends or family members may be submitted in relation to any circumstances, but these carry less weight in supporting a Good Cause claim.


What if I am unwell but can’t see my Doctor?

We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to get a doctor’s appointment at short notice, or without attending the surgery early in the morning to secure an emergency appointment. If you are unable to get an appointment you may be able to request a telephone consultation with your doctor instead.

If you cannot get a letter from your GP, or were unable to access them for medical advice, you may be able to find another independent person who can provide a letter of support. While they will not be able to provide a professional opinion or diagnosis, they can advise us of any observations they had regarding your physical and/or mental wellbeing at the relevant time. Again, the letter must provide clear information relating to the date or dates relevant to the circumstances being reported. People who can provide such information could be:

  • Someone you know in the University such as your tutor or Adviser of Studies
  • A religious or community leader

Letters of support from personal friends or family members may be submitted, but these carry less weight in supporting a Good Cause claim.


What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?

There are two stages in considering a Good Cause claim:

a)  A judgement on whether the circumstances themselves should count as good cause.

And, in cases where you have submitted a claim for underperformance in an assessment:

b)  A judgement on whether the grade you achieved in your exam or coursework has been “manifestly prejudiced” i.e. significantly affected by the circumstances.

Step b) will only happen if Good Cause is accepted at Step a).

If your Good Cause claim is accepted in relation to work that you completed (e.g. an exam that you sat) the grade that you achieved will NOT be increased to reflect the difficulties that you were facing.

The most common outcome for an accepted claim (whether for completed assessment or missed assessment) is that you will need to complete the assessment at a later date. This will usually be at the resit diet, which takes place during the summer vacation. PLEASE NOTE: that if it is judged that you have significantly underperformed, the assessment(s) will not be counted even if your performance was good enough to allow you to progress or achieve a grade you find acceptable.


I am an Honours Student – What happens if my Good Cause claim is accepted?

There are two stages in considering a Good Cause claim:

a)  A judgement on whether the circumstances themselves should count as good cause.

And, in cases where you have submitted a claim for underperformance after attending an exam, or submitting a piece of coursework:

b)  A judgement on whether the grade you achieved in your exam or coursework has been “manifestly prejudiced” i.e. significantly affected by the circumstances.

Step b) will only happen if Good Cause is accepted at Step a).

If your Good Cause claim is accepted in relation to work that you completed (e.g. an exam that you sat) the grade that you achieved will NOT be increased to reflect the difficulties that you were facing.

Up to 25% of the overall assessment for your Honours courses could be set aside if Good Cause is accepted. This means that your degree classification would be calculated on the basis of the 75% or more of the Honours assessment which you had completed, and your performance (or absence) relating to the assessments affected by Good Cause would be discounted. 


Could my marks be improved to take into account my circumstances?

No.

Marks cannot be awarded on the basis of undemonstrated performance as it is not possible for examiners to speculate on what level of performance you may have achieved in better circumstances.

Where illness or other good cause has impaired your performance in an exam, you will usually be given another opportunity to take the examination or assessment at a later date (e.g. at the resit diet which takes place during the summer vacation). In some circumstances some work may be “set aside” and you will not be required to complete it, but this will be limited.


If my circumstances are accepted as Good Cause, will I have to re-take the exam even if I managed to pass the course?

In some circumstances, Yes:

There are two stages in considering a Good Cause claim:

a)  A judgement on whether the circumstances themselves should count as good cause.

And, in cases where you have submitted a claim for underperformance in an assessment:

b)  A judgement on whether the grade you achieved in your exam or coursework has been “manifestly prejudiced” i.e. significantly affected by the circumstances.

Step b) will only happen if Good Cause is accepted at Step a).

You will not be able to keep the grade achieved at the time of the adverse circumstances if the examiners judge that your performance has been manifestly prejudiced - i.e. if they believe that you have underperformed significantly in that assessment. While this is more likely to happen if you achieve a poor grade, it could still happen if you pass the exam, or course overall; for instance, if you normally get marks of A and B but receive a D for the affected assessment, it is likely that the mark would be discounted and you would need to take the exam again at a later date.   


What would prevent my Good Cause claim from being approved?

We may not approve your claim if:

  • It is late and you have not given a good reason for this.
  • It does not include legitimate circumstances that would count as Good Cause.
  • There is insufficient evidence to support your claim.
  • In the case of completed assessment, it is judged that your performance has not been significantly impacted.

What happens if my Good Cause claim is declined?

If your claim is not accepted the grade for any assessment you have completed will stand, and any missed assessments will be treated as a non-submission.


Can I cancel my Good Cause claim?

Good Cause claims can only be cancelled up to five working days after the assessment.