Special Consideration

Special Consideration

IMPORTANT - The Special Consideration Policy / Procedure and Schedules come into force from Session 3 (4 December) 2017. Please refer to Disruption to Studies until this time.

SUMMARY

The Special Consideration Policy and Procedure establish the principles that support students seeking to notify the University when they experience short-term, unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances, which affect their performance in assessment.

The Supporting Evidence Schedule provides guidance to professional and academic staff engaged in the process of determining whether a student’s circumstances affecting assessment should be regarded as being unexpected, serious and unavoidable under the Special Consideration Policy. It also establishes minimum standards in regard to the documentary evidence required to substantiate such cases.

The Outcomes Schedule details the Special Consideration outcomes that can be granted for short-term, unexpected, serious, and unavoidable circumstances affecting assessment that have met the criteria set out in the Special Consideration Policy.

POLICY

NOTE - The Special Consideration Policy comes into force from Session 3 (4 December) 2017. The Disruption to Studies Policy continues to apply until this time.

1     PURPOSE

This policy establishes the principles that support students seeking to notify the University when they experience short-term, unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances, which affect their performance in assessment.

2     BACKGROUND

The University is committed to equity and fairness in all aspects of its learning and teaching. It recognises that students may experience events beyond their control that adversely affect their academic performance in assessment activities. To assist students through their studies, the University provides support services. Whilst advice and recommendations may be made to a student, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to access these services as appropriate, and to make known to the University any circumstance which may affect their performance in assessment in good time for it to be considered as appropriate.

This Policy applies only to short-term, serious and unavoidable circumstances that arise after a study period has commenced, and where specific assessment task/s have been affected. Students are expected to plan their work so that they can meet assessment deadlines at the same time as other obligations which they may have, both inside and outside the University.

Students with a pre-existing disability/health condition or prolonged adverse circumstances may be eligible for ongoing assistance and support. Such support is governed by the Student Disability Support Policy and may be sought and coordinated through Campus Wellbeing. It is recognised that students with chronic/long-term conditions may experience an acute episode of their condition, and that it may not always be possible for the University to put sufficient arrangements in place to provide a reasonable adjustment at the time of assessment.  Such eventualities are covered by this policy.

3     SCOPE

This Policy applies to:

  • all coursework students, including those on sub-degree, undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and non-award provision;
  • all types of assessment, including examinations and coursework;
  • staff involved in the administration, teaching, assessing or managing units of study at the University; and
  • Campus Wellbeing staff.

4     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. The following definitions apply for the purpose of this Policy:

Event critical study period: intense academic phase during the study session characterised by the lead-up to or culmination of key academic work.

Evidence: documentation outlined in the Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule that demonstrates the severity and impact of a disruption to study.

Fit to Sit: being fit to sit an examination or test, or otherwise submit an assessment.

Professional Authority Form (PAF): a form to document evidence of medical related disruptions (physical or psychological).

Serious and Unavoidable circumstances: the University classifies circumstances as serious and unavoidable if they:

  • could not have reasonably been anticipated, avoided or guarded against by the student; and
  • were beyond the student's control; and
  • caused substantial disruption to the student’s capacity for undertaking assessment for the unit(s); and
  • occurred during an event critical study period and were at least three (3) consecutive days duration or a total of 5 days within the teaching period and/or
  • prevented completion of an assessment task scheduled for a specific date (e.g. final examination, in class test/quiz, in class presentation).

Special Consideration: The provision of one additional opportunity for a student to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of a unit or units.

5     POLICY STATEMENT

General Principles

The purpose of Special Consideration is to enable the University to support students who have been impacted by circumstances that are unexpected, unavoidable, significantly disruptive and beyond the student’s control, and which may affect their performance in assessment.

Special Consideration is intended to provide support to a student whose assessable work has been affected by serious and unavoidable circumstances.  It is not a mechanism to appeal against an assessment outcome. Serious and unavoidable circumstances may result from events that are personal, social or domestic in nature and may include illness (either physical or psychological), accident, injury, societal demands (such as jury service), bereavement, family breakdown or unexpected changes in employment situations.

Special Consideration will not be granted when students are unable to complete an assessment task due to planned or foreseeable absence (e.g. holidays, recreational activities or normal work commitments or changes).

All applications for Special Consideration must be substantiated by original, independent documentary evidence in the format and by the deadline prescribed in the Procedure.

In order to support students who have experienced serious and unavoidable circumstances, the University will attempt to provide affected students with one (1) additional opportunity to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of a unit or units. An additional opportunity provided under such circumstances is referred to as Special Consideration, and may be granted after careful evaluation of the supporting evidence.

Students with a pre-existing disability/health condition or prolonged adverse circumstances are advised to seek support from Campus Wellbeing and should also refer to the Student Disability Support Policy.

Fit to Sit Model

Macquarie University operates under a ‘Fit to Sit’ model. This means that, in sitting an examination and/or in-class test or otherwise submitting an assessment, a student is declaring that they are fit to do so. It is the responsibility of the student to determine whether they are fit to sit an examination or test, or otherwise submit an assessment. Therefore, if a student is feeling unfit to sit the examination or test, or otherwise submit the assessment, they should not do so.

Nonetheless, a student may submit an application for Special Consideration if they can demonstrate that:

  • they were unfit to make reasonable judgement on their fitness to undertake the assessment, due to mental illness or other exceptional circumstances, or
  • they were taken ill during the assessment (in the case of an examination or test), and this can be independently corroborated.

In cases where a student is taken ill during an examination/class test, the student must advise the examination supervisor, who will record the case on the Examination Room Report Form.

Appeals

A student may appeal an adverse outcome of a Special Consideration application in accordance with the Academic Appeals Policy and the Grade Appeal Policy.

6     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

Higher Education Support Act (HESA), 2003 (Cwlth)
The Administrative Information for Higher Education Providers: Student Support (AIP), 2015 (Cwlth)
The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, 2000, amended 2010, (Cwlth)
The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students

7     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Supporting Special Consideration documents on this page (see Tabs above):

Special Consideration Procedure
Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule
Special Consideration Outcomes Schedule

Other related documents:

Special Consideration Website
Professional Authority Form (PAF)

Academic Appeals Policy
Assessment Policy Schedule 4 Final Examination Requirements
Grade Appeal Policy
PACE Reasonable Adjustments Procedure
Privacy Framework
Withdrawal and Discontinuance (Coursework) Policy
Withdrawal Without Penalty (Coursework) Procedure

8     NOTES

8.1

Contact Officer

Head of Student Administration

8.2

Implementation Officer

PVC (Students)

8.3

Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

8.4

Date Approved

5 Sept 2017 – Resolution 17/84

8.5

Date of Commencement

Session 3 (4 December) 2017

8.6

Date for Review

September 2020

8.7

Documents Superseded by this Policy

Disruption to Studies Policy approved 15 December 2015

8.8

Amendment History

Nil

PROCEDURE

NOTE - The Special Consideration Procedure comes into force from Session 3 (4 December) 2017. The Disruption to Studies Procedure continues to apply until this time.

1     PURPOSE

To set out the procedure for students seeking to notify the University when they experience short-term, unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances, which affect their performance in assessment, and the basis and mechanisms through which the University will provide support in accordance with the Special Consideration Policy.

2     SCOPE

This Procedure applies to:

  • all coursework students, including those on sub-degree, undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and non-award provision;
  • all types of assessment, including examinations and coursework;
  • staff involved in administration, teaching, assessing or managing units of study at the University; and
  • Campus Wellbeing staff.

3     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. Definitions specific to this Procedure are contained in the accompanying Policy.

4     RESPONSIBILITIES AND REQUIRED ACTIONS

Print version of Special Consideration Procedure Flowchart (PDF)

Please click on each item of the flowchart to see more information. 
If you have difficulty accessing this document please contact the Policy Unit policy@mq.edu.au or 9850 4791.

4.1 APPLYING FOR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION

A student who has experienced unexpected, unavoidable, and serious circumstances affecting their assessable work may lodge an application for Special Consideration.

Applications will only be accepted in the following circumstances:

  • where academic work has been hampered to a substantial degree by illness or other cause; and
  • the circumstances are serious and unavoidable and beyond the student’s control; and
  • the application for Special Consideration is lodged no later than five (5) working days after the assessment task due date, examination or test date.  

The University operates under a ‘Fit to Sit’ model, where, in sitting an examination or in-class test, a student is declaring that they are fit to do so.  Nonetheless, a student may submit an application for Special Consideration, in accordance with the prescribed method and deadline, if they can demonstrate that:

  • they were unfit to make reasonable judgement on their fitness to undertake the assessment, due to mental illness or other exceptional circumstances; or
  • they were taken ill during the assessment (in the case of an examination or test), and this can be independently corroborated.

In cases where a student is taken ill during an examination/class test, the student must advise the examination supervisor, who will record the case on the Examination Room Report Form.

All Special Consideration applications must be lodged online via the University’s Ask MQ system and must include supporting documentary evidence.

Lodging an application for Special Consideration does not guarantee that a student will be granted an additional/alternative assessment.

Applications for Special Consideration may be refused if:

  • not submitted in the manner and timeframe required;
  • the student has not complied with all other mandatory requirements for successful completion of the unit;
  • they are not supported by appropriate documentary evidence.

Applications made on behalf of a student by an external representative will only be accepted in cases where the student is incapacitated.

4.2 Evidence

A Special Consideration application must be supported by documentary evidence at the time of submission. Evidence requirements are specified within the Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule and may include:

  • original supporting documentation; or
  • a medical certificate; or
  • a completed Professional Authority Form; or
  • appropriate documentary evidence for non-medical circumstances.

The evidence must:

  • identify the circumstances;
  • include dates and/or the length of the circumstances;
  • explain the severity and impact of the circumstances;
  • clearly describe how the circumstances have adversely affected the student’s capacity for effective study to which an assessment relates
  • include the date(s) on which the student was seen by the professional providing the evidence

The University reserves the right to request and retain the originals of supporting documentation, and will conduct regular audits of supporting documentation submitted electronically. 

Students must retain all original documentation for a six (6) month period and must supply original documents to the University within ten (10) working days of such a request being made.

All documentation (in hardcopy or electronic form) relating to a Special Consideration applications will be treated in accordance with the University’s Privacy Framework.

4.3 Assessment Process

The assessment of whether a student’s circumstances were serious and unavoidable is made at the administrative level by Professional staff according to a pre-approved set of criteria described in the Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule. Professional staff processing an application may seek input from the relevant Academic staff, Unit Convenor/Program Manager when assessing an application, if necessary.

4.4 Outcomes

If a claim for Special Consideration is accepted, the University will attempt to provide students with one (1) additional opportunity to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of a unit or units. 

Outcomes of an application for Special Consideration may include:

a) no action (where an application fails to meet requirements of the Special Consideration Policy / Procedure  / Supporting Evidence Schedule);

b) additional assessment to fairly assess performance;

While there is no requirement that the form of the additional assessment should be identical to the original assessment, it should assess the same learning outcomes.

In submitting a Special Consideration application, the student is acknowledging that they may be required to undertake additional work. The time and date, deadline or format of any required extra assessable work as a result of a Special Consideration application is not negotiable. In submitting a Special Consideration application, the student is agreeing to make themselves available so that they can complete any extra work as required.

No more than one (1) alternate assessment will be offered to a student in each affected unit, so it is essential that the student makes themselves available for the alternative assessment activity.

Where a student is offered and undertakes assessment as above, the mark from the alternate assessment will supersede the mark from any initial assessment, regardless of whichever is the higher.

c) a supplementary examination;

Where Special Consideration is granted in the form of a supplementary examination, any initial examination affected by the circumstances will not be marked; rather the mark from the supplementary examination will be used. 

Other than, in exceptional circumstances only one (1) opportunity for a supplementary examination will be provided.

d) a deadline for assessment may be extended;

The length of a deadline extension will normally be equivalent to the duration of the circumstances affecting the student.

e) marks derived from other, completed assessment tasks may be aggregated or averaged to achieve an overall mark;

f) in exceptional circumstances, the final mark for the unit may be excluded from calculations for Honours, GPA, or Academic Standing.

g) In certain circumstances, where the student has demonstrated serious and unavoidable circumstances, but the University determines that Special Consideration is not possible for the assessment affected, the outcome may be to recommend the student apply to Withdraw without Academic Penalty. The student must determine whether to apply to Withdraw without Academic Penalty, or accept the outcome where no alternative assessment can be provided.

4.5 Withdrawal of Special Consideration Application

Once the student has submitted a Special Consideration application the student may not withdraw the application,and must either submit themselves to partake in the alternate assessment activity(s), or accept the mark received for the relevant assessment item.

4.6 Notification of Special Consideration Application Outcome

The University will aim to communicate the outcome of a Special Consideration application to the student’s email address within five (5) working days of receipt of the application and all necessary supporting evidence.

4.7 Withdrawal without Academic Penalty recommended

In certain circumstances, the outcome of a Special Consideration application may be to recommend the student apply to Withdraw without Academic Penalty. The student must determine whether to apply to Withdraw without Academic Penalty, or accept the outcome where no alternate assessment can be provided.

Where a student accepts the offer to withdraw without Academic Penalty the University’s Commonwealth Supported Students Team will separately assess whether the student is also eligible for Withdrawal without Financial Penalty

5     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

Higher Education Support Act (HESA), 2003 (Cwlth)
The Administrative Information for Higher Education Providers: Student Support (AIP), 2015 (Cwlth)
The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, 2000, amended 2010, (Cwlth)
The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students

6     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Supporting Special Consideration documents on this page (see Tabs above):
Special Consideration Policy
Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule
Special Consideration Outcomes Schedule

Other related documents:

Special Consideration Website
Professional Authority Form (PAF)

Academic Appeals Policy
Assessment Policy Schedule 4 Final Examination Requirements
Grade Appeal Policy
PACE Reasonable Adjustments Procedure
Privacy Framework
Withdrawal and Discontinuance (Coursework) Policy
Withdrawal Without Penalty (Coursework) Procedure

7     NOTES

7.1

Contact Officer

Head of Student Administration

7.2

Implementation Officer

PVC (Students)

7.3

Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

7.4

Date Approved

5 Sept 2017 – Resolution 17/84

7.5

Date of Commencement

Session 3 (4 December) 2017

7.6

Date for Review

September 2020

7.7

Documents Superseded by this Policy

Disruption to Studies Procedure approved 15 December 2015

7.8

Amendment History

Nil

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

SPECIAL CONSIDERATION SUPPORTING EVIDENCE SCHEDULE

NOTE - The Special Consideration Supporting Evidence Schedule comes into force from Session 3 (4 December) 2017. The Disruption to Studies Supporting Evidence Schedule continues to apply until this time.

1     PURPOSE

This Schedule provides guidance to professional and academic staff engaged in the process of determining whether a student’s circumstances affecting assessment should be regarded as being unexpected, serious and unavoidable under the Special Consideration Policy.

It also establishes minimum standards in regard to the documentary evidence required to substantiate such cases.

2     SCHEDULE

Under the Special Consideration Policy the University deems circumstances to be serious and unavoidable if these arises from a set of circumstances that:

  • could not have reasonably been anticipated, avoided or guarded against by the student; and
  • were beyond the student's control; and
  • caused substantial disruption to the student’s capacity for undertaking assessment for the unit(s); and
  • occurred during an event critical study period and was at least three (3) consecutive days duration or a total of 5 days within the teaching period, and / or
  • prevented completion of an assessment task scheduled for a specific date (e.g. final examination, in class test/quiz, in class presentation).

The University does not regard conditions or circumstances that exist prior to commencing a unit of study as being unexpected, serious and unavoidable, except in the event of unanticipated deterioration of that condition or circumstance.

However, the University does provide for the ongoing support of students who experience acute adverse conditions, circumstances or disabilities. This planned support may be sought by contacting Campus Wellbeing.

Special Consideration applications that seek to document short-term, unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances affecting assessment must be supported by specific evidence as described below.

General Evidence Requirements:

Evidence must demonstrate that substantial disruption has been caused to the student’s capacity for effective study during an event critical study period and include:

The evidence must: 

  • identify the circumstances;
  • include dates and/or the length of the circumstances;
  • explain the severity and impact of the circumstances;
  • clearly describe how the circumstances have adversely affected the student’s capacity for effective study to which an assessment relates
  • include the date(s) on which the student was seen by the professional providing the evidence

Unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances

(Short Term/ one-off circumstances)

                         Evidence

(Appropriate Supporting Documentation)

1. Short-term illness

  • Medical Certificate

or

  • Professional Authority Form

2. Hardship or trauma

  • Sudden change in domestic arrangements: e.g. eviction, homelessness and serious financial difficulties
  • Bereavement
  • Victims of crime
  • Unexpected Carer responsibilities
  • Unexpected events or accidents
  • Unexpected financial difficulties
  • Statutory Declaration

or

  • Medical Certificate

or

  • Professional Authority Form –stating how the student was affected

or

  • Official letter from relevant source/authority

NOTE: for instances affecting a student more than one month after the trauma, supporting documentation must be supplied by a registered health professional* or via a Professional Authority Form.

3. Death of a relative/close friend

  • Statutory Declaration - stating the relationship to the student

or

  • Medical Certificate

or

  • Professional Authority Form – stating how this student was affected

or

  • Death Notice/Certificate

NOTE: for circumstances affecting the student more than one month after the death, supporting documentation must be supplied by a registered health professional* or via a Professional Authority Form.

4. Unavoidable commitments

  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Religious commitments
  • Unexpected changes to work schedules
  • Unavoidable medical appointments
  • Court dates/Jury Duty
  • Wedding invitations accompanied by a Statutory Declaration

or

  • Letter from religious leader/Elder

or

  • Letter from employer – stating why the student cannot be released from these unexpected work commitments

or

  • Letter from doctor/medical certificate

or

  • Letter confirming your attendance to Jury Duty/ court date

5. Exacerbation of ongoing illness

  • Medical Certificate

or

  • Professional Authority Form supporting exacerbation

6. Elite athletes or Performers

  • Students who are part of the Macquarie Elite Program
  • Competition dates
  • Official letter from the Macquarie Elite Athlete Program supporting increased training commitments/ competition

     7. Army Reservists/SES commitments and   Volunteer Firefighters

  • Unavoidable training commitments
  • An official training notice from organiser explaining why attendance is required

or

  • Statutory Declaration

* A health practitioner that is registered with a National Board of Australia that isaccredited by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA):

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice
  • Chinese Medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Dental
  • Medical
  • Medical Radiation Practice
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathy
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Psychology
  • Social workers

The following are not considered unexpected, serious and unavoidable circumstances requiring Special Consideration:

  • Reading the Unit Guide incorrectly
  • Attending events such as:
    • Concerts
    • Talk shows
    • Sporting events
    • Protests
  • Pre booked holidays
  • Routine employment
  • Internet outage (certain exceptions e.g. in prison/remote rural students)
  • Computer failure (certain exceptions e.g. in prison/remote rural students)
  • Heavy academic work load
  • Misreading the examination timetable
  • Professional Experience - organised by the student independently
  • Other events or activities not related to current employment or studies, and
  • Students registered with Campus Wellbeing with long term circumstances such as:
    • Chronic illness/disability
    • Students with carer status

3     NOTES

3.1

Contact Officer

Head of Student Administration

3.2

Implementation Officer

PVC Students

3.3

Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

3.4

Date Approved

5 Sept 2017 – Resolution 17/84

3.5

Date of Commencement

Session 3 (4 December) 2017

3.6

Date for Review

September 2020

3.7

Documents Superseded by this Schedule

Disruption to Studies Supporting Evidence Schedule approved by Academic Senate 12 November 2013 and University Council 5 December 2013

3.8

Amendment History

Nil

3.9

Policy Authorisation

Special Consideration Policy

OUTCOMES SCHEDULE

SPECIAL CONSIDERATION OUTCOMES SCHEDULE

NOTE - The Special Consideration Outcomes Schedule comes into force from Session 3 (4 December) 2017. The Disruption to Outcomes Schedule continues to apply until this time.

1     PURPOSE

To detail the Special Consideration outcomes that can be granted for short-term, unexpected, serious, and unavoidable circumstances affecting assessment that have met the criteria set out in the Special Consideration Policy / Procedure.

2     SCHEDULE

NOTE:  In accordance with the Special Consideration Procedure, to be eligible for Special Consideration a student must notify the University of a serious and unavoidable circumstance no later than five (5) working days after the assessment task due date, examination or test date. All Special Consideration applications must be lodged online via the University’s Ask MQ system and must include supporting documentary evidence.

 

Duration of adverse circumstances

Assessment

1 – 3 Days

4 –7 Days

8-15* Days

Required Attendance (tutorial, practical, lecture, class)

Waived or alternate/additional task depending on % and/or compulsory status

  

Participation (tutorial, practical, lecture, class)

Waived or alternate/additional task depending on % and/or compulsory status

  

Assignment, Essay, Report, Proposal, Literature Review,

Extension dependent on % and length of circumstance

General limits for extensions up to 2 weeks before escalation to Unit Convenor (UC)

Practical Project

Extension dependent on % and length of circumstance

General limits for extensions up to 2 weeks before escalation to UC

Online Quiz

Adjusted weighting  or alternative/supplementary test

  

Online Discussion/Participation

Waived, extension or alternate/additional task depending on % and/or compulsory status

General limits for extensions up to 2 weeks before escalation to UC

In-class assessments other than mid-session test:  e.g. practical worksheets, class presentations, quizzes

Adjusted weighting  or alternative/supplementary test

  

Mid-Session Test & Final Examination

Make up examination/test or weighting change to assessment for mid-session examination

  

Supplementary Mid-Session Test & Final Examination

Make up examination/test or alternative task (escalated as needed to Unit Convenor)

  

Presentations Individual and Group

Always goes to Tutor or Unit Convenor

Case Studies Individual and Group

Extension dependent on % and length of circumstance

General limits for extensions up to 2 weeks before escalation to UC

Laboratory Practical Sessions

Always goes to Tutor or Unit Convenor

Take Home Examinations

Always goes to Tutor or Unit Convenor

Journals and reflections

Extension dependent on % and length of circumstance

General limits for extensions up to 2 weeks before escalation to UC

MUIC Extension Activities

Extension dependent on % and length of circumstance

Limit of extension up to 10 days before escalation to UC

* Greater than 15 day extension will be discussed with UC and/program or academic advisor/director.

Student may be referred to Campus Wellbeing (CWB) for reasonable adjustment or the student may be advised to consider applying for Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty.

3     NOTES

3.1

Contact Officer

Head of Student Administration

3.2

Implementation Officer

PVC Students

3.3

Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

3.4

Date Approved

5 Sept 2017 – Resolution 17/84

3.5

Date of Commencement

Session 3 (4 December) 2017

3.6

Date for Review

September 2020

3.7

Documents Superseded by this Schedule

Disruption to Studies Outcomes Schedule approved 15 December 2015

3.8

Amendment History

Nil

3.9

Policy Authorisation

Special Consideration Policy

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