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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

2.5: Grace Periods

1. The role of the Grace Period is to support students who fail to fulfil his/her academic commitments for good cause and to exempt them from academic commitments for an agreed period of time (also see paragraph 1c. of General Regulation V: ). By contrast, the Academic Progress procedure is intended to ensure that academic commitments are fulfilled. (However, see 4 below for academic commitments including summatively assessed coursework.)

2. A Grace Period (which is granted through the approval of a concession) should ideally be negotiated at the start of a period of difficulty for the student, not once problems have arisen as a result of the student defaulting on his/her work, albeit for justifiable reasons. However there will also be occasions on which a Grace Period is requested retrospectively to excuse a student from commitments which he/she has missed for good reason.

3. A Grace Period should not normally be longer than 5 weeks of term-time. Longer periods should normally be dealt with as a withdrawal and return. Grace periods, where appropriate, require the student to be certified fit to return.

4. If summatively assessed coursework would have been submitted during the period of Grace the concession should specify alternative arrangements (to include where applicable a new deadline for submission).

5. Careful consideration should be given with respect to a student who has already defaulted on his/her academic commitments as to whether it would be in the student's best interests to give a Grace Period exempting the student from the commitments involved or to place the student under the Academic Progress procedure to ensure that he/she 'gets back on the right track'. It should be noted that the Academic Progress procedure has a supportive function where this is appropriate as well as a disciplinary function.

6. The role of both the Academic Progress Procedure and Grace Periods is important in the consideration of requests to withdraw and repeat a given year of study. The only acceptable basis for requests to repeat a year of study should normally be that the student, for good cause, was unable to make academic progress for a significantly long period. It is expected that this would have come to light already through one of these two procedures.

7. Even when University Officers have evidence that a student's progress is significantly impaired (for medical or personal reasons) a concession will normally only be applied for on his/her behalf with the student's express consent.