Tutor's tip

Find out how mitigating circumstances are handled in your department:

  • At what point should problems be referred to the Senior Tutor?
  • What are the possible outcomes for different kinds of mitigating circumstances? (e.g. for ongoing depression or anxiety, bereavement close to an exam, a cold during exam revision, specific learning and physical disabilities, financial hardship);
  • Find out what an interruption of studies is, and what policy the department has on deferring exams, and on extending deadlines for coursework. Who makes the decision in each case?
  • Be aware of issues of consent and confidentiality, especially if approached by an over-18 student’s parents.

As a Personal Tutor you may become aware of mitigating circumstances affecting a tutee's academic performance in relation to examinations, major pieces of coursework and projects, and difficulties impacting upon a substantial part of the academic year. 

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • student’s own illness
  • family illness/bereavement
  • accident
  • victim of crime
  • other unforeseen circumstances

In this case you should be prepared to guide them through the mitigating circumstances policies, procedures and forms. It may be helpful to involve the Senior/Postgraduate Tutor at an early stage.

Personal Tutors may be asked to comment on any special circumstances that need to be considered at departmental mitigating circumstances meetings, prior to Examination Boards. Personal Tutors should inform Senior Tutors of any known special circumstances before such meetings. Students must submit a mitigating circumstances form, at the earliest possible time and according to departmental procedures.

It is important to keep records of conversations and information which may serve as evidence in mitigating circumstances applications.

Tutor's tips

Student perspective

"He helped me through a very difficult period last term. He was always available to talk when needed. He helped me to organise mitigating circumstances and to generally ease back into college, being supportive and understanding throughout."

Tutor's tip

"Inconsistent advice is unhelpful both to the student and to the department: better to say you don’t know and to enquire, than to give advice that is wrong." (Personal Tutor, Department of Life Sciences)