‘Non-diagnosed occasional anxiety or stress’ not grounds for coursework extension, says new UoB policy

Both allegedly have a ‘minimal impact’

Bristol University has outlined a raft of changes to their policy for handing out coursework extensions in the hope that students will not require an extension in the event of "short- term disruption of studies".

In the email sent yesterday, staff from the School of Humanities claimed that the measures will help in "building effective and stress-reducing time-management skills."

The new measures mean that "non-diagnosed occasional anxiety or stress" are not expected to require an extension. However, students struggling with this are encouraged to visit a Senior Tutor or Wellbeing Adviser as they can provide "remedies".

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The list of conditions which are not expected to justify an extension

Chronic conditions, including mental health, where "a reasonable adjustment has already been made" is considered a circumstance with "minimal impact". However, if the condition has worsened or the adjustment seems inadequate, the email implies that students could then request an extension.

One student said : "The new policy on coursework extensions implies I have to give forewarning of my mental illness getting worse. I don’t get a 3-5 working day notification on when my illness is going to flare up."

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'I don't get a 3-5 working day notification on when my illness is going to flare up.'

"When my illness does flare up, the last thing I want to do is have to go into university and prove how unwell I am."

"Diagnosis of mental illness and the university’s own DSS process takes time (it took two months for me to get an assessment) and the support I already receive for assessment does not take coursework into account, only written exams."

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This list of circumstances in which an extension will be granted

Circumstances which are considered fair game for an extension include a "chronic medical condition" or "being the victim of a crime". Eventualities which have had a significant impact on your studies could result in deadlines being pushed back as far as 21 days, at which point the university suggests that it may be worthwhile for a student to suspend their studies.

As for measures actually designed to help students manage time, the Uni helpfully suggest checking deadlines in advance or consulting with your personal tutor. It is not clear which of the new measures in the policy will help students in requiring fewer extensions or developing "useful and transferable skills" . The revamped guidelines may result in extension requests being granted less frequently, but this could be a product of the new policy rather than any improvements in student time keeping.