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Disruption to Studies Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Western Sydney University recognises that students may experience life events that adversely affect their academic performance in assessment tasks. The University provides support services to assist students through their studies and encourages students to use those services when necessary.

(2) This policy provides the principles for assisting students who have been significantly adversely affected by a serious and unavoidable disruption to their studies that is beyond their control, to demonstrate the Subject Learning Outcomes through disruption to studies provisions.

(3) The policy establishes a framework to manage serious and unavoidable disruptions to student’s learning that arise after a term has commenced.

(4) This policy is not designed to manage the following situations which are managed by other University policies:

  1. The Disability Policy provides a framework to support students with pre-existing disabilities or chronic health conditions
  2. The Deferred Exam Procedures provide a mechanism for students to sit deferred examinations where they have not attempted a Final Examination due to illness, misadventure, or other exceptional circumstance beyond a student’s control
  3. The Assessment Policy establishes a framework to manage minor illnesses and misadventure of less than three days in duration which impacts a student completing an assessment or attending a compulsory component of their subject.
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Section 2 - Definitions

(5) For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions that apply can be found in the Policy DDS Glossary, in addition to the following:

  1. Disruption to Studies Event means a serious and unavoidable circumstance which impacts a student’s ability to demonstrate that they meet the Subject Learning Outcomes.
  2. Disruption to Studies Provision means an additional opportunity granted to a student to demonstrate their attainment of relevant Subject Learning Outcomes in recognition of a disruption to studies event.
  3. Critical Study Period means the period leading up to an assessment deadline during which the student would reasonably be expected to be undertaking or preparing for the assessment task/s.
  4. Supplementary Assessment means an additional exam or other type of equivalent assessment organised by a School which may be granted as a Disruption to Studies Provision or as a final assessment task in a program.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(6) The University is committed to providing equity and fairness to students in all aspects of its teaching and learning.

(7) Where a student’s learning has been impacted by a Disruption to Studies Event, the University will support the student to demonstrate their attainment of the subject learning outcomes through a reasonable Disruption to Studies Provision in accordance with this policy.

(8) The University expects that students will make reasonable efforts to minimise the impact of any Disruption to Studies Events on their learning.

Disruption to Studies Events

(9) A Disruption to Studies Event is a serious and unavoidable event that:

  1. was caused by health issues, hardship, trauma, bereavement or other unavoidable circumstances beyond the student’s control
  2. could not have reasonably been anticipated, avoided or guarded against by the student
  3. caused substantial disruption to the student’s capacity for effective study and/or completion of assessment items and:
    1. was at least three days in duration, or
    2. resulted in the student being unable to complete an examination as a result of either technical or health issues, or
    3. otherwise impacted the student's performance in an examination for reasons outside of their control.

(10) For clarity, the following circumstances are not considered to be serious and unavoidable disruptions and therefore are not Disruption to Studies Events:

  1. misreading the Learning Guide or exam timetable
  2. failure to have the standard equipment and/or environment to sit an examination, including meeting all examination conditions, prior to examination commencement
  3. not being able to present suitable identification (e.g., Student ID, Drivers License or Passport) in response to a request from a University Officer or online proctor
  4. short-term minor illnesses or accidents
  5. unspecified health conditions or generalised symptoms of being unwell, tired or stressed, including stress from an assessment 
  6. routine life and work commitments
  7. travel plans
  8. vehicle break down.

(11) The University will respond sensitively, sympathetically and appropriately in recognition of its students’ cultural traditions and practices where relevant.

(12) A Disruption to Studies Event must be a temporary event of discernible and finite duration.

Applying for Disruption of Studies Provisions

(13) Students are able to apply for Disruption to Studies Provisions for a Disruption to Studies Event in accordance with the Disruption to Studies Procedures.

(14) Applications must be submitted within five (5) working days of the start of the Disruption to Studies Event unless there are clear and compelling circumstances which justify the late application being accepted.

(15) Students may only apply for a Disruption to Studies Provision once per subject for each Disruption to Studies Event they experience. Multiple applications for s Disruption to Studies Provision for the same Disruption to Studies Event will not be accepted.

(16) All applications must be accompanied by evidence of the nature and impact of the disruption. Students should consult the Supporting documentation webpage for guidance on the appropriate evidence to submit with an application.

Outcomes of a Disruption to Studies application

(17) The outcome of a Disruption to Studies application may be that an application is:

  1. dismissed as there is not a Disruption to Studies Event and/or evidence is not provided
  2. confirmed as a Disruption to Studies Event with no Disruption to Studies Provision awarded, or
  3. confirmed with a Disruption to Studies Provision awarded.

(18) A Disruption to Studies Provision may include a Supplementary Assessment, Deferred Exam or another assessment item as outlined in the Disruption to Studies Provisions Schedule approved by Academic Senate Assessment Committee.

(19) The University will not permit the award of additional marks for an assessment or any form of concession in marking without undertaking an alternative assessment.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(20) Staff and students must comply with the Disruption to Studies Procedures to implement this policy.

(21) Variations to the Disruption to Studies Procedures can be approved by Academic Senate Assessment Committee.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(22) Supporting documentation webpage.

(23) Disruption to Studies Provisions Schedule.

(24) Curriculum Advice to Students Procedures.

(25) Academic Appeals Procedures.


The University gratefully acknowledges Macquarie University from whose policy directory the concept of 'disruption to studies' and some accompanying guidelines were drawn.