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Disruption to Studies Procedures

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The purpose of these procedures is to direct students and staff on the process to be followed when a student experiences a Disruption to Studies in accordance with the Disruption to Studies Policy.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(2) For the purposes of these procedures the following definitions apply:

  1. Disruption to Studies Provision means an additional opportunity for a student to demonstrate they have met the Subject Learning Outcomes granted as an outcome of a Disruption to Studies application when the student has experienced life events that have adversely affected their academic performance.
  2. Frontline Professional Staff means staff responsible for receiving and undertaking initial assessment of Disruption to Studies applications, including Student Central staff for University applications, and equivalent staff for third-party providers.
  3. Supplementary Assessment means an additional assessment organised by a School which may be granted as Disruption to Studies Provision or as a final assessment task in a program.
  4. Refer also to the Policy DDS Glossary.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(3) The Disruption to Studies Policy applies.

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Section 4 - Procedures


(4) Students who have suffered a serious and unavoidable disruption to their studies which has lasted at least three consecutive days must submit an online notification of the disruption to studies within five working days of the disruption commencing.

(5) The notification must include an explanation as to how one or more of the following circumstances has impacted or may adversely impact the student's academic performance:

  1. health reasons, either physical or psychological;
  2. compassionate reasons, for example death of a close family member;
  3. hardship, for example sudden loss of employment, family breakdown;
  4. trauma, for example impact of a crime, domestic violence or accident; or
  5. unavoidable adverse circumstances, for example increased caring responsibilities.

(6) Frontline professional staff will accept notifications up to two working days after the due date of the assessment item. In exceptional circumstances a student may provide documentary evidence to justify why they did not submit the notification within that time.

(7) Students may submit a request for Extension for assessments (preferably before the due date), if they do not meet all of the criteria of for a Disruption to Studies provision, under the provisions of the Guidelines - Request for Extension or Missed Compulsory Activity (included under the Guidelines of the Assessment Policy).

Evidence of Disruption and Impact

(8) Students who submit a notification of serious and unavoidable disruption must, within five days of submitting the notification, and in accordance with the information on the Supporting documentation webpage, submit written evidence which:

  1. identifies and supports a serious and unavoidable disruption;
  2. explains the severity of the disruption;
  3. explains how the disruption or circumstances have had or will have an adverse impact on their academic performance and/or capacity for effective study related to the assessment task(s);
  4. includes an estimated date when the disruption will end, and anticipated date of resumption of normal activities; and
  5. for non-medical circumstances, indicates the severity and impact of the circumstance.

(9) Students must submit a Medical Certificate Form with the documentary evidence, unless otherwise required in the information outlined on the Supporting documentation webpage. The form must be signed by the relevant health professional or other professional person.

(10) If a student submits falsified documents, the University will take action in accordance with the Student Misconduct Rule.


(11) Frontline professional staff will determine whether a disruption is serious and unavoidable having regard to the criteria in the Disruption to Studies Policy. For example, in making the determination in relation to an Indigenous Australian student, frontline professional staff will also have regard to accommodating the student's obligation, within reasonable limits, to adhere to their family or cultural responsibilities.

(12) Frontline professional staff will consider the notification and documentary evidence and determine one of the following:

  1. Notification considered but disruption is not considered serious and unavoidable (Declined).
  2. Notification is incorrect or incomplete (Not accepted).
  3. Notification considered and disruption considered to be serious and unavoidable (Accepted).

(13) Frontline professional staff will refer an accepted notification to the relevant School to determine an appropriate Disruption to Studies Provision.

(14) Frontline professional staff will advise the student via their student email address if notification is incorrect or incomplete.

(15) Frontline professional staff will advise the student via their student email address when an application has been declined.

(16) The appropriate Academic staff member will evaluate how a serious and unavoidable disruption relates to an assessment task which is, or was, due to be undertaken during the period of that disruption and provide an academic alternative.

Disruption to Studies Provisions

(17) Disruption to Studies Provisions will be granted by the appropriate Academic staff member who must:

  1. grant a Disruption to Studies Provision where frontline professional staff have determined that a disruption is serious and unavoidable; and
  2. determine the nature of the Disruption to Studies Provision based on:
    1. ensuring the relevant Subject Learning Outcomes have been assessed; and
    2. in accordance with the Disruption to Studies Provisions Schedule.

(18) Unit Coordinators or appropriate academic or administrative staff at third-party providers are required to ensure that:

  1. students are advised of the Disruption to Studies Provision via their student email address within five working days from acceptance of the notification; and
  2. a copy of the outcome is sent to the student's electronic file.

(19) A summary report of the decisions will be available at the end of each term.

(20) Documentation will be retained as per the requirements of the Records and Archives Management Policy.

(21) If a Subject Coordinator grants a Disruption to Studies Provision other than through the online system, they must record the decision on the student's electronic file in accordance the Records and Archives Management Policy.

(22) In these severe and exceptional cases, the University will provide students with up to three opportunities to demonstrate they have met learning outcomes being examined. This would include situations where a student is granted a Disruption to Studies Provision after missing a Final Assessment or Examination, Deferred Exam and/or Supplementary Assessment. This would be the third and final opportunity in that term for a student to demonstrate they have met the learning outcome(s) being examined.

Non-Completion of Disruption to Studies Provisions

(23) Where a student experiences ongoing disruption and cannot complete an assessment task granted as a Disruption to Studies Provision, the following actions will be recommended to the student:

  1. referring the student to the University's support services;
  2. withdrawing from the subject (refer to the Enrolment Policy for guidance);
  3. following the guidelines on the Withdrawing without academic penalty webpage;

Repeated Disruption to Studies Applications

(24) Where the University identifies students who have submitted multiple notifications over multiple terms, the Deputy Dean or nominee, or equivalent, will:

  1. request the student to meet with the Academic Program Advisor (APA), or equivalent, to discuss the issues;
  2. record a written report in the student's electronic record file; and
  3. advise the student in writing that they should seek assistance from the University's support services.

Students with Academic Integration Plans

(25) For a student with a disability or chronic health condition, the University:

  1. provides the Disability Service to support the student;
  2. will not accept a notification of serious and unavoidable disruption or grant an Assessment Consideration where a Reasonable Adjustment has been made on the basis of that disability or chronic health condition, unless:
    1. there is an acute flare-up of an existing disability or chronic health condition; or
    2. the disruption is caused by a different condition.

(26) Students whose ongoing circumstances may adversely affect their academic performance should seek advice from their Unit Coordinator and APA, or equivalent, and support services such as the Disability Service.


(27) The University may audit the number of notifications submitted by a student and under duty of care, may refer the student to support services or take other action as appropriate to ensure that any underlying problems are addressed.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(28) Supporting documentation webpage.

(29) Disruption to Studies Provisions Schedule.

(30) Special Consideration webpage.

(31) Curriculum Advice to Students Procedures


(32) The University gratefully acknowledges Macquarie University from whose policy library the concept of 'disruption to studies' and accompanying guidelines was drawn.