Rape and sexual assault are now included in extenuating circumstances

Thousands signed a petition

The University have finally agreed to give rape and sexual assault their own clause in extenuating circumstances.

The long overdue change comes after a student who was raped on her year abroad failed the year because the University didn’t grant her extenuating circumstances.

Last Friday, a reform of the Code of Practice was finally agreed. It will be rewritten removing all reference to current examples, and instead will include a link to guidance notes which will list all circumstances which could qualify a student to receive extenuating circumstances, including rape and sexual assualt

Over 2,000 people signed a petition to bring about the change, which the Guild was fully supportive of.

The student – who wishes to remain anonymous – worked closely with the University to lobby for the change and is “proud” of the outcome.

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The anonymous Brum student said she couldn’t have done it without the support of the Guild

They said: “I am so grateful to the Guild for everything they have done to ensure that this change took place, especially to Guild President Jack Mably and Representation and Resources Officer Daisy Lindlar for the incredible job that they do representing the needs of students everyday.

“Following this change, I hope all students of the University, whatever they may be going through, will always feel confident their university will academically support them.

“I’d also like to thank the University for being so open and forward thinking, this is an improvement I believe students and parents alike will praise them for.

“Raising this issue was difficult, but this is definitely an experience from my university experience that I will look back on with pride.”

A spokesperson for the Guild said: “At the Guild, we’re really happy we’ve managed to successfully lobby the University to specifically include sexual assault in their Code of Practice.

“It’s a really positive step towards ensuring survivors are being supported, and just goes to show the impact students and the Guild can have when we work together.”

The change to the Code of Practice aims to increase clarity for students, so that those who may need academic support are in no doubt help is available to them.

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The petition was shown to senior university staff

A spokesperson for The University of Birmingham said: “The University annually reviews all of its codes of practice, including that on extenuating circumstances. The current code does mean a student who has been the victim of a rape or sexual assault can be offered support through extenuating circumstances, even though this is not currently listed as a specific example.

“The next review of this Code will review the examples used and provide more comprehensive guidance notes, which will cover rape and sexual assault, as well as many other circumstances.

“This review will take place to revise the Code of practice ready for the start of the 2016/17 academic year. We have listened to the representations made and concerns raised on this issue and will continue to work with student representatives in our review.

“Students should be reassured they can currently access a wide range of support, including extenuating circumstances, should they be a victim of rape or sexual assault.

“Given the seriousness with which we take this issue, we would be extremely concerned any student might think that sexual assault would not be grounds for extenuating circumstances, and will be working very closely with students to ensure our communications around our Code of Practice make our position on this very clear.”

On hearing the change at Birmingham, students from other universities across the country are hoping their university will follow suit.

One student from Manchester said: “I think it’s important for universities to explicitly recognise sexual assault as an extenuating circumstance whereby students cannot be expected to perform at their usual ability.

“It’s important to ensure students are able to come forward and be confident they will receive the right support during any traumatic time and sexual assault is definitely something which needs to be considered severe enough to be written into a Code of Practice.”

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