SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Documentation from the Counselling Service Related to Mitigating Circumstances

Why documentation?

  1. If you are submitting a piece of work late, have reason to believe that your performance, including exams may be affected, are requesting a deferral or leave of absence you may be asked to produce evidence.
  2. This evidence will include for example a doctor’s letter if you have been unwell, a police report if you have been the victim of a crime, a death certificate in the case of a bereavement. Where the crime committed is of a very personal nature  i.e. sexual assault, it may be difficult to obtain a police report. In such circumstances appropriate documentary evidence can be provided from a medical professional, counsellor or other professional body (i.e. rape support service).
  3. If you have been seen by the counselling service, your counsellor may be willing to provide some documentation to confirm the extent and nature of the contact, at your request and with your agreement

Please also see Code of Practice for Mitigating Circumstances

What we are unable to provide

  1. We are unable to provide documentation for students we have not seen and we are unlikely to be able to provide any meaningful documentation after a single consultation.  It takes some time for us to be able to assess the extent and impact of most personal circumstances.
  2. We are unable to make recommendations, act as an advocate or influence decisions of the Exam Boards.  We can only provide factual confirmation and an assessment of impact,  which the Exam Boards can choose to take into account.

What do we provide?

  1. A brief letter which confirms the dates of contact, the regularity of contact, the nature of the circumstances and our assessment of their impact.
  2. A copy of any documentation provided for your personal record.
  3. We also ask you to complete a self assessment section where you indicate yourself what areas of work have been affected and what steps you have taken to deal with any difficulty.  This will accompany any letter for the Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Languages and Cultures, but not Law and Social Sciences where the Faculty has opted out of using the self assessment section.

Additional information for staff

  1. It is not helpful to send students to any part of Student Services with the expectation of ‘a letter’, though it is very helpful to suggest students see someone in Student Services to look at ways of managing personal or other circumstances affecting performance.  If you require some immediate feedback, it is best to call so that we can discuss the immediate requirement.  We will be unable to provide information about any contact we have had with a student unless and until we have their permission.
  2. Academics can themselves provide confirmation for Exam Boards that they are familiar with a student’s circumstances and that there has been a deterioration in performance, consistent with the reported period of difficulty.                      

Student Counselling Service Feb 2011