Self-Certified Extenuating circumstances

The Union Advice Team will be closed between 24th December – 4th January. Hopefully this page will tell you everything you need to know whilst we are closed, but otherwise we will respond as soon as we can upon re-opening, thank you for your patience. 

During the January exam period, the Union’s academic advice team will be running extenuating circumstances bookable 15 minute appointments and running Drop-Ins in the Hive.

Hive drop ins: Tuesday’s and Thursday’s throughout January, 1pm – 3pm

Bookable “Quick Query” for ECs: Book here!

Find out about what else we are doing for January exams on our #SurreyLove page here

What are self-certified Extenuating Circumstances (ECs)?

An application for self-certified ECs does not require you to provide evidence to support your application for your ECs to be accepted. Similar to reporting in sick to work, the University allows you to self-certify that you require extenuating circumstances for up to 5 working days (does not include weekends, bank holidays or University closure dates) without evidence, so long as you have grounds to do so. If you require more than 5 working days, you will need to provide evidence for your ECs. 

All students can self-certify up to 3 times in an academic year in advance of any assessment if they are affected by ECs they cannot evidence, covering a period of a maximum of 5 working days. Working days do not include weekends, bank holidays or University closure dates. 

What can you self-certify?   

Students that are eligible to self-certify their ECs will need to meet these criteria:  

  • Experiencing valid Extenuating Circumstances impacting your academic ability (see below) 
  • Unable to obtain evidence for those valid ECs to support a standard EC application
  • For coursework: requiring ECs for a maximum 5 working* day extension
  • For exams: requiring a deferral of selected exams within a 5 working* day period
  • Unable to obtain evidence to support an application for ECs 
  • Hasn’t already reached the maximum of 3 self-certified EC applications within the academic year
  • Applying for ECs before a deadline or the start of an assessment. (Any coursework submitted before the coursework deadline will be voided if subsequent EC request is accepted)

The University reserves the right to reject an application for ECs that is self-certified if you do not meet the criteria above, or if you do not have valid grounds to request ECs.  It is a serious disciplinary offence to misuse this process and mislead the University and could result in major disciplinary penalties.   

*working days do not include: weekends, bank holidays or University closure dates.

When should self-certification be used?  

Self-certified ECs should only be used for short-term circumstances affecting your academic performance when you’re unable to provide evidence for a standard Extenuating Circumstances application. If you can provide evidence, then standard ECs would be best for you to apply for. Self-certifying should ideally be a last resort – only to be used if you have valid ECs that you cannot evidence.

Please note that once your ECs has been accepted by the University, you cannot subsequently withdraw the request.

To outline the two types of ECs, read below:

Evidenced Extenuating Circumstances Self-Certified Extenuating Circumstances 
1 application can be used to cover any/all chosen assessment(s) within evidenced time period 1 application can be used to cover any/all chosen assessment(s) within a 5 working day period
For all types of coursework: outcomes include up to a three week extension or deferral of selected coursework to be taken at the next suitable assessment period For all types of coursework: a 5 working day maximum extension. Exceptionally, a deferral of selected courseworks within a 5 working day period to be taken at the next suitable assessment period 
For exams: deferral of exam to next suitable assessment period For exams: deferral of selected exams within a 5 working day period to be taken at the next suitable assessment period  
Applicable for any unit of assessment e.g. exam, coursework, class-test, group project, presentation, performance Applicable for any unit of assessment e.g. exam, coursework, class-test, group project, presentation, performance 
Requires valid evidence Doesn’t require evidence 
Requires a supporting statement outlining valid grounds for ECs and desired outcome Requires a supporting statement outlining valid grounds for ECs and desired outcome 
Expected to submit before exam/deadline where possible, but may be submitted up to 5 working days after exam/deadline Only valid when completed before a deadline or before the start of an exam (therefore an application made at 11.01am for an 11am exam will not be accepted and will require evidence) 
Unlimited evidenced applications (though continued applications which demonstrate a need for additional support may be referred to Support to Study)Limited to three self-certified applications in an academic year 
Apply online through Surrey Self-Serve  by selecting “I have provided evidence” or “I will upload evidence later” in the evidence section of the applicationApply online through Surrey Self-Serve by selecting “I am eligible to self-certify” in the evidence section of the application
Can be used in the August Late Summer Assessment Period (though deferring in August will interrupt your course flow, so it is strongly advised that you seek advice before applying for ECs in August)  Can be used in the August Late Summer Assessment Period (though deferring in August will interrupt your course flow, so it is strongly advised that you seek advice before applying for ECs in August)  

Extenuating Circumstances are not a replacement for getting the support you need to study at University. If you think you are experiencing recurring circumstances that are impacting your study, please speak to your Personal Tutor as soon as possible, or visit your Faculty Hive.  

What are valid grounds for ECs? 

There are several valid “grounds” for applying for extenuating circumstances. When self-certifying, you must still explain how the circumstances have affected you and your ability to do your work to the best of your ability. The grounds considered by the University include: 

  • Bereavement through the death of a close relative or significant other 
  • For yourself, or someone within your care (child, parent, partner etc.), who experiences: 
    • Short term illness 
    • Long-term chronic health problem suddenly worsening 
    • Flare-up of a chronic health problem 
  • Late diagnosis of additional learning requirements  
  • For part time and distance learning students, an increase in workload beyond your control 
  • Other exceptional circumstances which affect your academic ability

For a full, comprehensive list of valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances, please refer to the regulations

Waiting for an outcome? 

In some cases you might not hear about your EC application before your deadline. If this is the case with you then please try not to worry, we would advise you to do the following:

For coursework: We would advise that you submit what you have already by your current deadline. If your EC is later accepted, then your submission attempt will be voided and you will be given a new deadline (so we would suggest you continue to work on your coursework) or your assessment will move to August. 

For exams: We would suggest that you email your lecturer/module lead and assessment team (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) and let them know that you do not plan on sitting the exam. This essentially tells the University that you are “not fit to sit” the exam and this will support your EC. If you are worried you don’t have valid grounds for an EC, then you can attempt your exam. If your EC is later accepted then your attempt will be voided and your exam will be deferred. 

If your EC application is rejected following the event or deadline then please contact us and we can discuss your case in more detail. You can always apply for another EC – up until the board of examiners meet. Additionally, the appeals process is there to support you later down the line.

Frequently asked Questions

How do I submit an Application?

Online, via your Surrey Self-Service account. Under the ‘Modules’ tab along the top of the welcome page, click on Extenuating Circumstances and this will take you to the application form.

You should use the same application as a normal EC: online, via your Surrey Self-Service account. Under the ‘Modules’ tab along the top of the welcome page, click on Extenuating Circumstances and this will take you to the application form.

When you get to the evidence section of the application, you should select “I am eligible to self-certify”.

If you are not providing evidence as you are covered by the ground of “long term health condition” then you should select evidence, and mention in the statement which previous evidence you have submitted that supports your EC.

How long will it take to get a response?

After submission you should receive an immediate confirmation of receipt via email to your Surrey account. Applications usually take around 5 working days to receive an outcome. However, during exam periods and busy times, ECs can take around 5 – 10 working days to get an outcome.

What happens if I fall unwell the night before, or the day of, an exam and can’t attend?

You should ideally submit extenuating circumstances as soon as you know you won’t be able to attend an exam. If you are physically unable to attend the exam then we would recomend you email your relevant Faculty Assessments team (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk, feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk, fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) and your Module Leader to let them know that you cannot do the exam. 

You may wish to consider if you want to apply for self-certified ECs, and you can do so in order to defer your exam to the next suitable examination period (usually the August examination period) provided you apply before the start of the exam, and provided you have not already used up your 3 maximum self-certified applications in a year.

If you have already used your maximum self-certified applications, seek medical support as soon as possible as you will need evidence to add to your EC application. Please be aware that if your ECs aren’t valid, and you don’t attend the exam you run the risk of your exam being awarded zero, which you can appeal if needed. Click here to find out more about appeals.

What to I do if i have not had an outcome before my exam or coursework deadline?

In some cases you might not hear about your EC application before your deadline. If this is the case with you then please try not to worry, we would advise you to do the following:

For coursework: We would advise that you submit what you have already by your current deadline. If your EC is later accepted, then your submission attempt will be voided and you will be given a new deadline (so we would suggest you continue to work on your coursework) or your assessment will move to August. 

For exams: We would suggest that you email your lecturer/module lead and assessment team (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) and let them know that you do not plan on sitting the exam. This essentially tells the University that you are “not fit to sit” the exam and this will support your EC. If you are worried you don’t have valid grounds for an EC, then you can attempt your exam. If your EC is later accepted then your attempt will be voided and your exam will be deferred. 

If your EC application is rejected following the event or deadline then please contact us and we can discuss your case in more detail. You can always apply for another EC – up until the board of examiners meet. Additionally, the appeals process is there to support you later down the line.

What Do I Do if I cannot get my evidence before the deadline?

If you can get evidence before your assessment deadline or exam, then we would suggest that you do not self-certify and instead, put in for a normal EC. Remember, as long as you submit your EC before the deadline, you can add evidence at a later date if you know you can get hold of the evidence.

If you cannot get your evidence before the deadline then you can self-certify but you must be applying for ECs before your deadline. 

If you have already used up your maximum number of self-certified applications for the year, or if you require longer than a 5 working day extension, we would advise that you submit your application before the deadline anyway, and indicate in your application that you are still waiting to obtain the evidence. As soon as you receive it, you can log back in to your application and add it. At least this way you have ensured that you have reported the matter ahead of the assessment. It is important to note, however, that your application won’t be looked at until your evidence is uploaded. If your application closes before you have time to submit your evidence, that is ok, you can just submit another EC application. If your application is rejected because the board of examiners have met, you will need to make an academic appeal. If you are not able to source evidence for your situation, you might be eligible to self-certify your ECs.

What do i do if i am unwell in an exam?

For an in-person examination: You can ask an invigilator for an ‘unfit to continue’ form, and then you can leave if needed. This ensures your exam will NOT be marked as a non‑attempt and will serve as part of your evidence in your extenuating circumstances application. You must follow this up with a full ECs application as soon as possible. You should book an appointment with a medical professional as evidence for your ECs. 

For an online examination: Email your faculty assessments team and your module leader and let them know you are unwell and are unable to continue the exam. This email will help when you apply for your EC. You will not be able to self-certify if the exam has already started, so you should seek to obtain medical evidence as soon as possible – from a GP/counsellor etc. Put in your EC application as soon as you can – you can add your evidence later on.

What will happen to the exam paper or Coursework if I submit but my EC is upheld?

Any attempts you have made will be void if your EC application is upheld. If this is an exam, your assessment will move, usually to the August exam period.

You should be aware that if you are happy with your submission and your EC is approved, it will be voided regardless as, once an EC has been accepted, you cannot revoke the EC.

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