A Working Party of Chris Daly, Ian Sharpe, Helen Swarbrick and Judith Tonkin was established at a meeting of Presiding Members of Faculty to produce recommendations on the reform of the special consideration policy and procedures. Diane Dwyer, Helen Milfull, Brett OHalloran, Grant Walter and Geoff Whale were invited to join the Working Party.
The policy and procedures for students with a disability or longterm health problem were not part of this review and will continue to be the responsibility of the Equity Officer (Disabilities).
The committee considered the following information:
The number of special consideration applications received at UNSW in the last three sessions.
Current UNSW policy and procedures.
Summaries of the equivalent policy at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney and Wollongong.
The number of applications was increasing.
Some students submitted special consideration for almost each course each session.
Many applications for special consideration had no relevance to the students performance
NSS had different capabilities. Geoff Whale explained that NSS would not be able to carry comments over to assessment schedules but would be able to hold comments which could alert course and program authorities that there was information about a student which needed to be considered.
It was agreed that the review should aim to produce the following outcomes:
To reduce if not eliminate applications, particularly medical certificates, for trivial conditions submitted as insurance.
To ensure that serious cases of illness or misadventure were given careful consideration.
To achieve equity and consistency in the assessment of students.
To provide more information to course authorities to promote better decision-making and earlier assessment of applications.
To eliminate the possibility of students playing faculties and departments off against each other.
The following procedure was discussed:
Student to take original documentation (eg medical certificate) together with the Special Consideration application form to NewSouth Q where staff would ensure that it complied with the Universitys guidelines (see below), stamp the original, take a copy (to be kept for 12 months) and return the stamped original to the student.
NewSouth Q would enter a summary of the application into a database, including dates, severity, brief description. This summary would be distributed to the course authorities of the courses mentioned in the application and attached to the students record on NSS to alert program and course authorities that there was information potentially relevant to assessment decisions.
Applications would be accepted only in the following circumstances:
Where academic work had been hampered to a substantial degree by illness or other cause. Except in unusual circumstances a problem involving only three consecutive days or a total of five days within the teaching period of a semester would not be considered sufficient grounds for an application.
The circumstances would have to be unexpected and beyond the students control. Students would be told they are expected to give priority to their University study commitments and any absence must clearly be for circumstances beyond their control. Work commitments would not normally be considered a justification. In cases where students are prevented from completing assessment, discontinuation without failure may be a more appropriate outcome.
An absence from an examination would have to be supported by a medical certificate or other document which clearly indicated that the student was unable to be present.
A student absent from an examination or who attended an examination and wanted to request special consideration would normally be required to provide a medical certificate dated the same day as the examination.
An application for special consideration would have to be provided within three working days of the assessment to which it referred. In exceptional circumstances an application may be accepted outside the three-day limit.
Documentation should be accompanied by
the UNSW Request for Special Consideration form.
Medical certificates and other documentation submitted by students in support of applications for consideration should comply with the following conditions, as relevant:
The certificate is signed by the students own medical practitioner or a practitioner from the University Health Service. The practitioner must have seen the student during the illness or immediately afterwards, when it was first possible to seek help.
Certificates signed by family members are not acceptable.
The certificate should be on the UNSW proforma which can be found at watch this space
Within the limits of confidentiality, the certificate should describe the nature and seriousness of the students problem, so that an assessment of the possible effects of the illness or accident on performance can be made.
The certificate indicates the degree of incapacity of the student (serious, moderate, mild) and its duration or probable duration.
Documentation will depend on the nature of the circumstances but it must support the students account of the effect on his/her performance.
Documentation relating to a non-medical absence should indicate the importance of the event and why it prevented the student from attending for assessment.
Only documentation which meets the requirements listed above will be accepted. No consideration will be given when the condition or event is unrelated to performance in assessment or is considered not to be serious.
The course authority is responsible for considering the special consideration application. The Assessment Review group is responsible for ensuring that all relevant information has been taken into account in deciding a final mark for a student in a course. One or more of the following may be taken into account.
The students performance in other items of assessment in the course.
The severity of the event.
Academic standing in other courses and in the program.
History of previous applications for special consideration.
If an application for illness or misadventure is accepted, the following action may ensue
Additional assessment or a supplementary examination. Additional assessment may take a different form from the original assessment. If a student is granted additional assessment, the original assessment may be ignored at the discretion of the course authority. Consequently, a revised mark based on additional assessment may be greater or less than the original mark.
Marks obtained for completed assessment tasks aggregated or averaged to achieve a percentage.
Deadline for assessment extended.
Discontinuation from the course. This is unlikely to occur after an examination or final assessment has taken place.