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Durham University

Student Registry

Self-Certification of Absence

The Self-Certification of Absence Form has been moved online and is now available on this webpage.

  • The purpose of the Self-Certification of Absence form is to provide your College and your Department(s) with information about any absence that has prevented you from attending a COMPULSORY academic commitment or submitting a COMPULSORY piece of assessment.
  • The Self-Certification of Absence Form should be completed AFTER you return from your absence - it should not be used as the means by which you inform your College and Department that you are currently absent (you should do this by email, if required).
  • The Self-Certification of Absence form is used by your College and Department to understand the length of your absence, the cause of your absence and what compulsory academic commitments were missed - hence you submit it on your return to your studies.

The information on this page is designed to help you understand when you should use the Self-Certification of Absence process and form. Please read this information BEFORE you access the online form.

A Step by Step Guide is also available to help you complete the online Self-Certification Form. If you have any queries about the Self-Certification of Absence process, please contact your College Student Support Team in the first instance.

Please note that the Self-Certification of Absence process is separate to and different from the Covid-19 Status Notification Process. If you have Covid-symptoms, have tested positive for Covid, or need to self-isolate for any other reason please report this via the Covid-19 Status Notification form accessible from the main Your actions, Your University webpages.


The Self-Certification of Absence process is part of the University’s policy on ‘Student Absence, Illness and Adverse Circumstances’. That policy states that:

“The University expects all students to fulfil all compulsory academic commitments (for instance, attendance at classes; submission of summative coursework; examinations). However, it is inevitable that some students will experience difficulties outside their control (such as illness or personal problems) that will adversely impact on their work or prevent them from fulfilling their commitments”

Learning and Teaching Handbook (Section:6.2.6)

In order for the University to provide appropriate support, you are strongly encouraged to inform your Department(s) and College as soon as any adverse circumstances occur. The general approach is to attempt, where possible and appropriate, to mitigate circumstances ‘in-year’.

When Should I Use the Self-Certification Process?

If you are unwell or affected by some other adverse circumstance beyond your control and as a result are absent you should:

1. Inform the members of academic staff leading the missed commitment as a courtesy. This is particularly important if your absence will directly affect their session (for example, you were due to give a presentation or participate in group work)

AND IF your absence was:

  • For no more than 7 consecutive calendar days (Monday-Sunday inclusive);

AND

  • And you have missed COMPULSORY academic commitments.

2. On your return from your absence complete and submit an online Self-Certification of Absence Form stating your circumstances and the duration of your absence. The general expectation is that you should complete the form within five days.

A member of staff from your College and/or your Department may follow-up with you when they have received your submission but you can also reach out for help if you require additional support as a result of your absence.


DO NOT SUBMIT A SELF-CERTIFICATION FORM IF:

  • Your absence was more than 7 consecutive calendar days. Instead contact your College Student Support Office in the first instance to explain your circumstances and they will be able to discuss possible support options with you.
  • Your absence did not result in you missing any COMPULSORY academic commitments.

However, if you are concerned about your absence and the impact it has had on your studies please do contact your College and your Department(s) for further advice and guidance.

You are always welcome to speak to a member of your College Student Support team about any concerns you may have about your studies, regardless as to whether you also need to submit a self-certification form.


How will I know if I have missed a Compulsory Academic Commitment?

Departments/Schools are responsible for determining precisely which academic commitments are compulsory for each programme. These will be made clear in your Degree Programme handbook, and are also published for each module in the online Faculty Handbook and the Postgraduate Module Handbook. You should familiarise yourself with Department/School compulsory attendance requirements.

Please note: changing from face-to-face teaching to online teaching does not mean you are missing an academic commitment. In those circumstances you do not need to complete a self-certification of absence form. It is only if you have been unable to attend a compulsory academic commitment at all (i.e you have not attended the commitment either face-to-face or online) that you should complete the form.


What if my Absence affects Compulsory Assessments?

If you are absent due to some adverse circumstance beyond your control and as a result miss or anticipate missing a deadline to hand in summatively assessed coursework, or a class which leads directly to the submission of work which counts towards summative assessment (e.g. a practical class leading to a summatively assessed lab report) and therefore cannot hand in the associated work, you should:

1. Contact your Department as soon as possible to discuss and seek possible mitigation;

AND

2. On your return from your absence complete and submit an online Self-Certification of Absence Form stating your circumstances and the duration of your absence. The general expectation is that you should complete the form within five days.

AND

3. Consult your College Student Support Office to discuss pastoral support, if you feel this would be helpful.

You should follow your Department(s) procedures for requesting mitigation.


Can I use the Self-Certification Process to Support my Request for ‘in-year’ Mitigation?

The principle is that you can use self-certification of absence to support a request for mitigation only if your absence results from circumstances beyond your control. It is not possible to produce a definitive list of ‘good reasons’ under which you may default on your academic commitments through self-certification. The following is indicative but not exhaustive:

  • significant illness, comparable to that which would result in absence from work;
  • hospital appointment, doctor’s appointment, emergency dental appointment;
  • bereavement;
  • significant personal problems or events (e.g. a family crisis; being the victim of a crime);
  • significant illness of a close relative or dependent (e.g. sufficient to require absence from the University or where you need to act as a carer).

The expectation is that students should apply for mitigation in advance of deadlines. The University recognises that adverse circumstances such as illness will sometimes make this impractical. If you believe that an adverse circumstance caused the failure to submit summative work by a due deadline, you must contact your Department as soon as possible to explain the situation and to request a retrospective extension (or other appropriate mitigation).

The limits on self-certification outlined below apply. If you are within those limits you do not need to provide independent evidence in support of their absence / illness and request for mitigation. Students are trusted to self-certify accurately and honestly.

If you have used both your opportunities for self-certification then you will need to discuss your situation with your Department and College. Independent evidence may be required at this stage.

Whilst all requests for mitigation will be carefully considered, you should not assume that requests for mitigation will automatically be approved. You should remember that failure to submit summative assessed work on the due date without a negotiated extension means that University procedures and penalties on late submission of assessed work will apply (see Section 6.2.5: Penalties for the Late Submission of Assesses Work).


Are there any Limits to the Self-Certification Process?

An undergraduate student may self-certify on two occasions per term for a maximum of seven consecutive calendar days on each occasion. A term in this context refers to both term-time and the following vacation.

A postgraduate student may self-certify on two occasions per three-month period for a maximum of seven consecutive calendar days on each occasion. The two opportunities for self-certification cannot be used consecutively (e.g. it is not possible to self-certify twice for seven days to cover a consecutive fourteen-day period).

If you exceed these limits then you must consult your Department and College to discuss your situation and explore possible means of support.

You are trusted to self-certify accurately and honestly, and there is no need to provide further evidence (e.g. a medical certificate) to justify absence from classes. However, the provision of false information will be regarded as a disciplinary offence by the University.


In what circumstances does self-certification not apply?

Self-certification should not be used in respect of general pressure of deadlines, missing deadlines due to oversleeping, failing to print out work on time, breakdown of printers and so on. Students are expected to manage their work to be able to cope with such problems. However, if you are struggling with your workload or with any aspect of University life, help and support is available. A range of support services are included below.

The process for ‘in-year’ mitigation does not apply to formally timetabled University examinations, for which the Serious Adverse Circumstances (SAC) process is designed. You cannot, therefore, use the self-certification of absence form should you miss an examination. Please contact your College Student Support Team if you require further information about the SAC process.