The best way to avoid problems at university is to try and deal with the issues before they get out of control. If you have any concerns about your work, you should first contact your personal tutor.
The Union offers free and impartial advice and works closely with the University of Portsmouth to resolve issues.
Students can meet and book a private appointment most weekdays with our Academic Caseworkers.
The Union also operates a drop in surgery every Thursday afternoon, no appointment required.
Appointments, must be booked in advance.
Drop in surgery every Thursday 1-5pm, currently located at Gun House in the Students' Union.
How to complete an ECF form
An extenuating circumstance form (ECF) should be filled in when you wish to present a case to the University to explain that you have personal or health problems that are affecting and are likely to affect your ability to sit an exam or complete a piece of coursework. The form will need to be received as soon as you are able to hand this in. The sooner you submit the form, the easier it is to provide strong supporting evidence.
What is an extenuating circumstance?
The list can be exhaustive. It can be anything that relates to your health or personal life which is “serious and significant” enough that you are unable to attend, complete or submit assessment artefacts or a circumstance that will prevent you from performing your best in an assessment.
Please note: If your reason for the ECF if likely to extend beyond 20 working days, the guidelines suggest that this is a long term circumstance and that you should consider a suspension of studies. Advice on this can be sought from your Head of Department.
Examples of circumstances that the University may consider:
What is not an extenuating circumstance?
- If you sit an exam or submit an assignment on time, you are declaring yourself “fit to sit” the assessment and no extenuating circumstances will be accepted.
- Suffering from a cold
- Computing difficulties- this includes network failure, computer crashing and printers dying
- Financial worries
- That you don’t like sitting exams
- Work commitments- (full time students only)
- Course management issues- these should follow the complaints procedure
Where do I get an ECF form from?
ECF’s are available from your department/ school office, from the Academic Caseworker at the Students’ Union.
We advise also that you have a copy of the Examination and Assessment Regulations in front of you whilst completing the form. Please pay particular attention to Appendix 2, table 1 of the regulations.
What do I need to produce along with the form itself?
You will need to produce evidence which confirms what you are alleging. So for instance if you are due to have an operation on the day of your exam and this cannot be moved, you would produce letters from your doctor which would confirm this. This is across the board, everything must be evidenced.
How do I complete the ECF form?
You should seek guidance from either a member of staff within your department, or from the Academic Caseworker at the Students’ Union. Make sure you complete ALL parts of the form.
You should complete one form for every separate circumstance and hand in prior to the ECF deadline- please ask your department for this deadline date.
Once the form is completed and your evidence is attached, you can hand this into your department/school office.They will then give you the top copy of the form back.
What happens once you have completed and submitted the form?
A panel will meet within your department to consider you application.This panel normally meets twice a year and considers all ECF’s within the department at the same time.The panel will decide whether you case is valid or not and will notify the unit assessment board, or board of examiners of their decision.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision within 2 weeks of their meeting.The meeting date will be displayed within your department. If you are unsure of the dates, please ask your head of department.
What will be the outcome if my ECF is found to be valid?
There can be a variety of outcomes if your ECF is found to be valid.The most common outcomes are the late penalty will be removed or you may be offered the chance to re do an assessment.
If your circumstances are serious or distressing you need to speak with your head of department, who can act on your behalf following the Universities guidance on serious and confidential circumstances. If you do not feel happy approaching your head of department, then please see a member of staff that you feel you can talk to. Also remember that the Academic Caseworker here at the Students’ Union is also available for you to talk to.
ECF Criteria Codes
There are 2 kinds of Extenuating circumstance either ACUTE (Prevented from being in a specific place at a specific time) or CHRONIC (prevented from doing something over a period of time) For Example:
All Students have the right to complain. If you are unhappy with a decision or something on your course, don’t suffer in silence.
Complaints generally fall into two categories
All Students have the right to complain. If you are unhappy with a decision or something on your course, don’t suffer in silence.All Students have the right to complain. If you are unhappy with a decision or something on your course, don’t suffer in silence.
Complaints do not always have to have a negative impact, they can be a way of improving things for the future.
How do I make a complaint?
STEP 1 - The first port of call should be to try and resolve the complaint informally. In most cases 99% of complaints can be resolved without actually making a formal complaint.This means that you need to go and calmly talk to the people involved.
For an academic complaint these people could be:
Your personal tutor
Your course leader
Your head of department
For a complaint about services or facilities these people could be:
The Librarian, if you have an issue with the library
Your Halls manager, if your complaint concerns your accommodation, and so on
If you have spoken to the person concerned and you cannot settle the issue informally, then you have the right to formally complain.
STEP 2- A formal complaint should be in writing. It must meet the criteria laid down within the formal university guide. Please ask the Students’ Union centre for a copy of this guide, if you do not already have one.Your complaint should contain the following:
Headed- “Formal Statement of Complaint”
It should state what the problem is and who the problem is with.
You must give a full account from start to finish within a statement. This should include, what steps you have already taken to try and resolve the problem and what you would like to be done.
The reason why the outcome of the informal complaint was not satisfactory.Your statement must be signed, dated and your name printed.
The university guide contains a form at the back.This form is for guidance as to the headings you should use within your statement, to ensure that you have met all the criteria. Please see below for the appropriate statement headings:
STUDENT REGISTRATION NUMBER
COURSE/STUDY ROUTE AND YEAR/LEVEL
TYPE OF COMPLAINT
STATEMENT- INCLUDING GROUNDS FOR COMPLAINT AND PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO RESOLVE.
EVIDENCE OF YOUR COMPLAINT
YOUR PREFERRED OUTCOME
You have 20 working days from when the complained matter occurred to submit your form and there is also the opportunity to provide evidence to back up your complaint.
Completed complaints forms need to be submitted to the Students complaints department at the below address, care of Samantha Hill:
FAO: Samantha Hill
University of Portsmouth,
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth, PO1 2UP
What happens next?
You will receive written confirmation from the Students complaints officer to say whether they have received your complain and whether it has been found to be a valid complaint or not.
IF YOUR COMPLAINT IS VALID
Your complaint will be forwarded to the relevant Head of Department/ service to be investigated. The complaints officer will inform you who this person is. It should take no more than 20 working days to investigate your complaint. If the investigation is to take longer, you will be informed. The conclusion of the investigation will be conveyed to you in writing. You will have 5 working days to confirm whether you are happy with the outcome and conclusions.
IF YOUR COMPLAINT IS NOT VALID
If your complaint is not valid, the students complaints officer will return your form with advice, 2/3 if appropriate on how to pursue the matter further.
If you feel that the board of examiners or the unit assessment board have made an error in their decision or have not received all of the information relating to your circumstances, you have the right to appeal. (The Board of Examiners and the Unit Assessment Board meet at the end of each semester and award your marks and decide whether you progress onto the next stage of your course).
You cannot however simply appeal because you do not agree or are unhappy with your mark. A request for remarking is not an appeal and is dealt with within your department.
What should I do?
First of all seek advice. If you think an academic decision is incorrect, you may need advice about the options open to you and whether your expectations are realistic. You can seek advice from:
Head of Department
We would recommend speaking with your head of department in the first instance, as sometimes small issues can be resolved at this level.
How do I make an appeal?
There are limited grounds on which an appeal will be considered:
If there has been a material and significant administrative error in the information received and considered by the Extenuating Circumstances Panel, the Unit Assessment Board or the Board of Examiners.
If the assessment had not been conducted in accordance with the approved regulations for the programme of study.
If some other material irregularity had occurred in the procedures of the Extenuating circumstances Panel, the Unit Assessment Board or Board of Examiners.
If the decision made by the Extenuating Circumstances panel was perverse by reference to the evidence supplied by the student.
If the Student had been prevented from attending or submitting an assessment artefact by illness or other good cause that related to the Student’s personal circumstances.These grounds however, can only be considered if you have been unable, for a sound and acceptable reason related to the circumstances themselves, to divulge before the deadline for submission of the extenuating circumstances form.
I have grounds for an appeal - what now?
Firstly speak with your head of department or course leader- see whether the matter can be resolved without the need for intervention of the academic registry.
If you have spoken to the above without resolution of your issue then you must complete the appeals/complaints form or you can write a statement with the below headings.You can obtain the appeals forms from the Students’ Union in Gun House. You have 10 working days from the date of receipt of a decision from a board to make an appeal.
Mark your appeal ‘Student Appeal’
STUDENT REGISTRATION NUMBER
ADDRESS (including postcode)
COURSE / STUDY ROUTE
TYPE OF COMPLAINT
Put the main body of your statement here. (include your grounds of appeal and details of previous attempts to resolve the issue)
EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR APPEAL
YOUR PREFERRED OUTCOME
YOUR SIGNATURE & DATE Once you have completed your statement you will need to send your statement, plus any evidence to George Allison, Assistant Registrar at the following address: George Allison Academic Registry University House Winston Churchill Ave. Portsmouth PO1 2UP
Once you have completed your statement you will need to send your statement, plus any evidence to George Allison, Assistant Registrar at the following address:
Winston Churchill Ave.
What do I do now?
If your appeal is invalid, it will be returned to you with advice on potential next steps, which the Students’ Union can advise you with further.
If your appeal is valid, the registrar will instruct a member of the academic council, who will interview you regarding you appeal. If the Academic Registrar believes that there is a case to answer, an Appeals Committee will be appointed. The Appeals Committee will decide whether the decision of the board should be reviewed. If this is the decision, you will be notified.
What about marking?
If you feel that a mistake has been made with regards to your marks, you may be able to request a review of that mark.There are two circumstances with which you can request a remark:
There has been a material and significant administrative error in the way the mark was determined. For example: You submitted two pieces of work, but only one was marked.
There has been a procedural irregularity in the assessment process as defined in the examination and assessment regulations. You cannot request a remark simply because you disagree with the academic judgement of the marker, and requests for remarking based on these grounds will not be considered.
How do I request a remark?
You will need to write to the head of department, with a clear explanation of exactly why you believe your mark to be incorrect.You should also include a copy of the work which is to be remarked.You must put your request in within 10 working days of receiving your original mark. If the Head of Department decides that your request is valid, he/ she will pass the work to a member of staff for review. Please remember that the result of a remark may not just be that your mark goes up, it could go down also.
Conversely, if the Head of Department feels that your request is not valid, they will write to you detailing the reasons why. If you are not happy with his explanation, you may write to the academic registrar, for a further review of the marking process. You must also state your reasons for the appeal.
If after this action you are still not happy, you can write to the Office of Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for an independent review. Please speak to the Academic Caseworker at the Students Union on this matter.
All of the above information can be found on the University of Portsmouth’s website: www.port.ac.uk/appealform
You can be excluded at University for a number of reasons. Lack of Academic progress, non payment of tuition fees, non attendance and disciplinary reasons.
Withdrawal of services
The first step with non payment of tuition fees or lack of attendance is to write to you and inform you of the issues. After this a withdrawal of services is issued. This means:
-Withdrawal of students on the Student Records System
- Communication, to all staff and partners involved, that non-compliant students should no longer be allowed to attend University
- Withdrawal of University services such as IT and Library Facilities
- Commencement of arrangements, if appropriate, for a change in accommodation
If a student who has received a withdrawal for non attendance does not rectify this issue within 4 weeks, an exclusion notification will be sent out.
A student will receive an Exclusion Notice if they have been excluded from University. This means that you will cease to be a student at the University of Portsmouth. If you have been excluded you will have to reapply through Admissions next year, should you wish to continue your studies. You can find out more here: http://www.port.ac.uk/accesstoinformation/policies/academicregistry/fees
Appeals for Exclusions
A student may appeal an exclusion in writing to the Academic Registrar or by email to email@example.com. Please contact the Students’ Union Academic Caseworker for advice on this before appealing. The appeal must be received by the registrar as per the appeals guide. The appeal must meet the following grounds:
- There has been a material administrative error
- There is information, previously not available for a good and acceptable reason, which might reasonably be considered to have affected the University’s decision to exclude the student if it had been known to the University at the time the decision was made. However, the University will expect the Extenuating Circumstances procedure to have been followed, if appropriate, and where students have been unable to use this process, there are sound and acceptable reasons for these circumstances, or
- The tuition fee has been settled in full and the Head of Department considers that it is still academically viable for the student to resume studies in this academic year.
For any further information on Exclusions or Withdrawal of Services, please contact the Academic Caseworker on Academicadvice@upsu.net or call 02392 845310
Quite often you will receive a letter from your department inviting you in for a meeting regarding a specific piece of work. This normally indicates that there has been an allegation of Plagiarism made or an assessment offence is thought to have been committed and a meeting if often the first step in the process.
What is Plagiarism?
The formal definition of plagiarism that the University uses is: ‘the incorporation by a student in work for assessment of material which is not their own, in the sense that all or a substantial part of the work has been copied without any adequate attempt at attribution or has been incorporated as if it were the student’s own, when in fact it is wholly or substantially the work of another person or persons.’
· Copying material from any source and using it without an appropriate reference (this includes computer language and programmes, scientific data and visual images - in addition to standard written text);
· Collusion, where the assessment artefact is prepared by someone else and presented as a student’s own work;
· Purchase of essay/project/computer programme, etc. (whether pre-written or specially prepared);
· Submission of essay/project/computer programme written by someone else;
· Submission of another learner’s work with or without that learner’s knowledge or consent.
If your tutor thinks you’re guilty of plagiarism, your Head of Department will deal with the matter, perhaps by delegation, and the following procedures will be set in motion:
• your department will ensure that the work has been evaluated using all available resources (via TurnitinUK and/or other means)
• you will be interviewed by the Head of Department (or nominated delegate) to establish the amount of plagiarism involved and to get your version of events
• if it turns out that you’re claiming that you have referenced the work, but you haven’t done it very thoroughly, then the work will be marked down (a referencing penalty) because poor referencing is poor scholarship
• if plagiarism is proven, then you may have to do the work again, but will only get a maximum mark of 40 per cent (the pass mark)
• if it’s very serious plagiarism (such as a straight copy of another person’s work), the penalty may include having to complete an entirely new piece of work and again you will only get a maximum of 40 per cent
• if you repeatedly commit plagiarism or do so in a blatant way, you will be referred to a University disciplinary panel that has a range of powers, including the power to expel you from the University.
Plagiarism is a very serious matter.
For full information on examination and assessment regulations, please visit: www.port.ac.uk
What happens at the meeting?
You are entitled to bring someone with you to your meeting, such as the Academic Caseworker. You must both ask the Caseworker and inform the tutors conducting your meeting that you intend to bring someone.
You will be asked questions relating to your work and you will be expected to explain any allegations that are put to you. If you did intentionally pass work off as your own or work collaboratively with someone when you were not supposed to, it is best to own up and explain why you did it, rather than try and deny that you did. Of course not all allegations of Plagiarism are found to be the case and some people to go into these meetings and walk out with no penalties imposed.
For any further information, please contact the Academic Caseworker on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02392 845310.