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In today’s rapidly changing world, students are often faced with mitigating circumstances that can impact their academic success. Dealing with personal issues, health challenges, or unforeseen events, can significantly disrupt a student’s ability to focus and perform well in their studies. It’s essential for educational institutions to provide comprehensive support systems to help students navigate these challenges.

In this article we share our top tips, supported by the experts, for supporting students through mitigating circumstances.

Research has shown that mitigating circumstances have a direct negative impact on students’ academic progress. When students face mitigating circumstances, it’s common for their concentration, motivation, and overall mental health to be affected. This can make it incredibly challenging for students to keep up with their coursework and maintain academic progress. As educators and support staff, it’s vital to be aware of the potential obstacles students may face and provide timely assistance and support.

So how can education providers navigate mitigating circumstances successfully and best support students on their path to success?

Challenges for Education Providers

It is clear that mitigating circumstances is a growing issue for higher education institutions. With a growing student mental health crisis and rising cost of living, providers are swamped with claims for mitigating circumstances.

However, education providers can’t just apply a one-size-fits-all approach. Two different students might be affected very differently by what appear to be similar events. As a result, higher education providers need to consider each student’s mitigating circumstances individually to ensure a fair and equitable outcome. This can make it a time and resource heavy process for education providers.

For example, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator says when assessing the appropriateness of a provider’s outcome, they will look at whether the procedures are themselves fair, as well as whether they have been applied fairly and have operated fairly in the individual case.

Challenges for Students

Some of the main challenges for students during mitigating circumstances include finding or using their provider’s processes, meeting the set deadlines, or getting the evidence they need. Even then, when some of them have managed to do all of that they feel the outcome has not been fair to them.

The Importance of Timely Outcomes

Many students are often left waiting long periods of time for a response or outcome to their mitigating circumstances application. Some even miss assessment deadlines due to the delay. Other students say the entire ordeal is incredibly difficult and stress-inducing.

“I still haven’t heard back about the forms and I’ve already finished exams so there was no point anyway. The turn–around time for the forms is not quick enough,” said one student on the issue.

Other students have said they ended up missing their exam as their request wasn’t answered in time.

What Does Good Procedure for Mitigating Circumstances Look Like? 

According to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, effective procedures are accessible, clear, fair, independent, and confidential. They are also inclusive, flexible, proportionate, and timely, ultimately enhancing the student experience.

Tips for Supporting Students Through Mitigating Circumstances

Make the Application Process As Easy As Possible

Students who need special consideration may be at their lowest point. They may be very anxious, as well as distressed or unwell. They may find it difficult to talk about or to prove what has happened to them. It is important for education providers to make the process of requesting mitigating circumstances as easy as possible.

What Does This Mean?

  • Using a user-friendly interface where students can open an application, attach evidence, submit and view their application with ease on web or mobile devices.
  • Allowing students to request mitigating circumstances for multiple exams or assignments in one application.

Reduce Any Unnecessary Stress Student’s May Have During the Process

If students are applying for mitigating circumstances, the chances are they are already under a great deal of stress and anxiety. It is important for institution to ensure their mitigating circumstances processes do not create any additional difficulty for students during this time.

What Does This Mean?

  • Allowing students to view the progress of their application to the stress and anxiety around waiting for an outcome.
  • Ensuring consistent communication with each student at each stage of their application and a fair and timely outcome.

Provide a Clear, Compassionate and Transparent Process

At the end of the day, students want to feel like their situation has been heard and that support is there. It is important for institutions to communicate quickly and clearly with students in relation to all applications and ensure they are aware of all the supports available to them.

What Does This Mean?

  • Ensuring your mitigating circumstances process is streamlined and efficient to deliver timely outcomes.

Look at the Bigger Picture

Does your mitigating circumstances process allow you to identify trends and patterns among individual students or the wider student population? A student who makes repeated requests for special consideration may have an underlying issue and may need additional support. If a large proportion of students are making similar requests, that might indicate that there is a wider issue that needs to be tackled. It’s important that providers can spot these issues so that students get the help they need.

What Does This Mean?

  • Your mitigating circumstances system should also include data analytics tools including dashboards that provide an overview of all applications and their impact on student success metrics and the ability to generate insight reports on trends and issues related to mitigating circumstances.

Interesting in learning more about an mitigating circumstances solution which addresses these challenges and incorporates these tips and guidelines? The SEAtS Mitigating and Special Circumstances system was built with all of these key elements in mind. Our solutions helps to simplify the process, ensuring a better experience for staff and students and fair outcomes for all.


Learn more about our mitigating circumstances solution – Get your free demo today!