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Guide to Extenuating Circumstances (ECs)!

An SU Advisor’s Ultimate Guide to Extenuating Circumstances: How not to go wrong if things go wrong!

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A busy assessment period is incoming, and so we would like to highlight one of the most common, but perhaps least understood, processes students can face - Extenuating Circumstances (ECs for short).

All students are likely to face occasions when life beyond your studies presents them with unexpected challenges.

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs, for short) are there to help students who are facing difficult circumstances outside of their control and are in need of a little extra support to ensure they can give their best work. They provide you with the time and flexibility to focus on yourself when you need it most, while also reducing the worry of what might happen if you miss an assessment deadline or don’t perform your best.

ECs are available to all students at any time during your studies at UAL, but it is extremely important that they are submitted at the correct time. So even if you don’t feel this applies to you right now, I’d still encourage you to give these handy FAQs a read in case one day they may come in use.

Let’s get into it!

First things first… What is an EC?

EC’s refer to any situation that you may be facing outside of university that is unexpected and beyond your control, that you feel is preventing you from performing your best in your academic work.

The process is there for any student who feels their performance at university is being negatively impacted by factors beyond their life at UAL. Examples we often see here are physical or mental illness, bereavement and acute caring responsibilities, but every situation is unique and there are many other things UAL will consider (see here for more details). If at any point you are struggling to keep up with your studies and are unsure if you can apply, please come and speak to us.

Why should I apply for an EC?

Students with accepted ECs are given extra time to complete their work, and in some cases a second chance if the first time round didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. Although having an EC will not change the way your work is marked, it should give you the flexibility to focus on yourself and your situation without worrying about the consequences of a late or missed deadline.

I think I need an EC, how do I apply?

To apply for an EC, head to your student portal and select the ‘my assessments’ tab where you will find the EC application form. If you are having difficulty accessing the EC portal, you can also make a claim by completing this form and sending it directly to your college EC team.

In your form, you should make clear what your situation is, and why this has impacted your ability to study to your full potential. In most cases, you will also need to provide evidence of your circumstances to support your claim, but UAL recognise that this isn’t always possible! (Please see ‘what if I can’t provide evidence?’ below)

What kind of evidence do I need?

UAL has provided evidence guidelines on their website with examples of what they can and cannot accept as evidence. These can be things like doctor’s notes or death certificates right through to copies of emails, but the general rule of thumb is that anything from an ‘official’ source should count. Evidence should always be in English or have a translation by a reputable service to support. If you are unsure whether your evidence is appropriate or where to look, our advisors are happy to give you guidance.

What if I can’t provide evidence?

If you are struggling to evidence your EC claim, do not worry as UAL also has a process to consider claims without any evidence at all, known as ‘self-certification’. You can 'self-certify' for EC’s up-to 60 credits per academic year, in the exact same way you would usually apply for an EC. It is important to note, though, that the reason for your EC will still need to meet UALs guidelines for acceptable grounds, which you can view here. Our advisors always encourage students to submit evidence where they can, though, as you never know when you may need to self-certify later down the line.

When should I apply?

It is always best to submit your EC as soon as you can. UAL will consider EC applications up to 2 weeks before your exam board meets for the unit(s) you are applying for. If you are unsure of when this is, you should contact your program admin team or speak to an SU advisor.

My EC claim was accepted, what happens now?

Your EC allows you an extra 7 calendar days to submit your assessment. If you are unable to submit before your new deadline, you will be offered a resubmission opportunity. This is called a 'deferral'. If you wish to 'defer' your assessment, you should contact your program admin team to let them know. You'll then be given a new submission date, which is usually a few weeks later. However, it is important to note that deferrals mean you won't have passed that unit until they are completed, which can have implications for progression or graduation timing. If in doubt, speak to your programme admin team.

It is SUPER important that you keep a close eye on your emails, student portal and moodle pages for your exam board results letter, which will state your new submission deadline. If you miss your resubmission, your previous EC will not apply!

Wrapping it up

Well, that’s all everyone! The main thing I hope you all will take from this is that if you are facing difficulties beyond your studies, there are processes and people here to support you. Our advice team are here to help you navigate the EC process so you can take a step back and get back on track. If you are feeling like you need an EC and would like to speak to an advisor, please drop us a line at or book an appointment to see us here.

Take care,

ArtsSU Advice team










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