Quality Manual

Guidelines for obtaining medical certification from Cripps Health Centre/Other Health Centres

Current Regulations require that an absence from examination or a claim of extenuating circumstances relating to an examination or assessed coursework must be supported by independent, reliable documentary evidence. In particular where a claim is made on medical grounds, a medical certificate, or a letter from Cripps Health Centre, or an appropriate Medical Adviser must be provided.

Students and Tutors should, however, recognise that medical practitioners, whether at the Cripps Health Centre or elsewhere, are under no obligation to issue a certificate or to write in support of a student's claim. Students should also note that they are responsible for paying any fees that a medical practitioner may charge for providing certification. The following cases, which have caused difficulty in the past, are examples of situations in which Medical Practitioners may not be able to issue certification:

  1. Short-term illness (less than 7 days) will not normally be regarded as an extenuating circumstance with regard to assessed coursework, where the student is given a number of weeks/months to complete and submit such work. It shall be for the School or Department to decide whether this has affected the student's performance and whether an extension to a deadline should be granted.
  2. A Medical Practitioner will not normally issue a medical certificate retrospectively. That is to say, if the practitioner is being asked to provide certification based wholly on the student's account of past symptoms which the practitioner is unable to confirm on examination, s/he may decline to do so. Where a student has missed an examination because of illness they should therefore seek independent contemporaneous evidence at the first possible opportunity. In the exceptional cases where it is not possible to obtain a medical opinion at the time, independent corroboration should be sought, which could be for example, a Hall Tutor, Warden or Academic Tutor.
  3. A minor and self-limiting illness (e.g. a simple cold) will not normally be regarded as a good cause for missing an examination. It should not be expected that in such cases a Medical Practitioner will issue a medical certificate indicating that the student is unfit to sit an examination.
  4. Students should not need to visit a Health Centre to provide medical certification when they have an obvious physical injury. Corroboration, such as a note from a hospital casualty department, or from a tutor who has seen the injury, would normally be sufficient. Examples of obvious physical injury could include plaster casts or metal pins supporting broken or fractured bones. Bandaging should not be regarded as obvious physical injury and would need medical certification. The Health Centre will, where relevant, provide an indication of the likely duration of an incapacity caused by a fracture or similar injury, for example where there is an issue as to whether the incapacity will endure over the examination period.


  1. It is important to stress that academics are not expected to make a medical judgement as this is obviously a matter for medical practitioners. For example where a tutor's corroboration is sought, s/he may report that the student complains of stomach pains, headache, sore throat, etc but should not attempt to diagnose the illness e.g. gastro-enteritis, viral infection, glandular fever, etc.

    It is also very important that students who wish to consult a doctor for a medical opinion should not be discouraged or prevented from doing so.

    University staff should be alert to consider whether illness might be responsible for a student's late or non-submission of work, missing tutorials, or non-attendance at the University. Where necessary, staff should encourage students to seek immediate medical attention for conditions such as psychological, depressive or stress related illnesses. On occasion, students have been referred only where examinations are looming or deadlines about to pass, when an earlier referral might have resulted in immediate treatment being made available.  

 Updated 25 September 2017

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