Quality Manual

Guidance for obtaining medical evidence

This page provides guidance for obtaining suitable medical evidence (for extenuating circumstance applications), as well as the potential difficulties that may arise in its pursuit. Its content is only applicable to staff and students who are based at the UK campus.

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Please be aware that during academic year 2019/20, the University introduced exceptional regulations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These were campus specific and meant to be read in conjunction with all pre-existing content.

From the beginning of academic year 2021/22, the active application of the exceptional regulations affecting this page has now ceased, with the sole exception of those which cover extenuating circumstances at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM). The following will remain active at UNM until further notice in light of the current situation in Malaysia:

Any outcomes from the application of the regulations during academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 across all three campuses will, however, continue to be honoured and used in all decisions regarding those affected.

Further details about those regulations which have NOT been extended into academic year 2021/22 can be found in the "Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19" section below.

Students who are unable to attend an examination due to acute, short-term circumstances for which they do not need to see a doctor e.g. migraine, vomiting should refer to the University’s Policy on self-certification for examinations page in the first instance. For more information, please consult the following:

Policy on self-certification for examinations

Guidance   Flag of United Kingdom

Includes: current regulations; recognition of medical practitioners rights; case types

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A minor and self-limiting illness (for example, 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.
  • 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. 

Essential information for staff   Flag of United Kingdom

Includes: remit and expectations of academics; seeking medical opinions; considerations; referral

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, they may report that the student complains of stomach pains, headache, sore throat and others, but should not attempt to diagnose the illness - such as gastroenteritis, viral infection, glandular fever and others.

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. 


Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19   Flag of United Kingdom   Flag of China

Please be aware that the following Exceptional Regulations were developed and applied during academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These records are campus specific and should be read in conjunction with all other content on this page.

For more information about the Exceptional Regulations as a whole, please consult the following:

Exceptional Regulations: Covid-19 - 2019/20 - 2020/21


If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please email: Quality-Manual-Enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk  Email
This content was last modified on 05 October 2021

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