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Mitigating circumstances and the admissions process

King's College London understands that exceptionally, circumstances beyond a student’s control, such as illness or bereavement, may detrimentally affect their academic progress or attainment in such a way that their final assessments may not accurately reflect their potential or readiness to begin their programme of study.

Although the information regarding mitigating circumstances can serve to contextualise the academic performance, or predicted academic performance of an applicant, the final decisions as to whether to offer the applicant a place on the programme, and under what conditions, will remain at the discretion of the university.

What We Can Consider

King’s College London would define applicants in three categories when looking at mitigating circumstances:

  1. Applicants who have mitigating circumstances that have affected their previous study

  2. Applicants who have mitigating circumstances that are affecting their current study

  3. Applicants who believe they have mitigating circumstance that have affected/will affect their interview at King’s College London

As outline below, the university is only able to accept and assess submitted Mitigating Circumstances Notification Forms from those applicants in the third category (affected/will affect their interview), and it is our policy to destroy forms submitted that we are unable to assess.

Explanation of Considerations

Applicants who have mitigating circumstances that have affected their previous study (the qualification they are using to apply to King’s College London) are expected to have contacted their previous institution to have raised these issues at the time they occurred. The University will expect the previous institution to have taken these circumstances into account in the issuing of their final grade. King’s College London is unable to assess circumstances experienced previously at another institution as we are not best placed to do this fairly and consistently for all applicants.

Applicants who have mitigating circumstances that are affecting their current study, who believe these circumstances may affect their application / ability to take up their place of study on the intake applied for should contact the Admissions Office via the King’s Apply Portal to highlight this. The Admissions team responsible for your application will then be able to provide what practical advice they can, whether in regards to a deferral request, visa application, conditions of your offer etc. Please note that King’s College would be unable to assess circumstances currently being experienced which an applicant may believe will affect their final overall grade – these should be raised with your current institution who will take them into consideration in the issuing of your final grade.

Applicants who believe they have mitigating circumstances that have affected/will affect their interview at King’s College London should inform the Admissions Office prior to the interview if possible, as circumstances are pre-existing (e.g. bereavement / ongoing illness), or no more than 2 days after the interview has taken place, via our Postgraduate Mitigating Circumstances Notification Form. 

 

How to Notify Us

Please complete and send the Postgraduate Mitigating Circumstances Notification Form to admissions.confidential@kcl.ac.uk, along with any supporting evidence, and call the Admissions Office to highlight the submission of this form to ensure the form is seen as early as possible and no deadlines are missed. These circumstances can then be evaluated by the relevant Admissions Tutor and Admissions Manager, and the appropriate action can be taken in regards to the assessment process.

Please note all individual circumstances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and King’s College would be unable to state what would, or would not, be accepted as mitigating circumstances, along with what actions we may be able to take should we accept that these circumstances were unforeseen and caused an impact on the interview performance.

FAQs

What are mitigating circumstances?

King’s considers mitigating circumstances to be unforeseen circumstances, outside an applicant’s control, that have a significant and detrimental effect on their academic performance or assessment.

There is no definitive list, as all instances are considered on an individual case-by-case basis. However, listed below are some examples of mitigating circumstances which, when supported by appropriate evidence, could be understood as circumstances which might have a detrimental effect on the achievement of an applicant (to be considered at the university’s discretion, in line with this policy):

  • Bereavement – loss of close relative/significant other;

  • Serious, acute or chronic illness affecting the student’s most recent education;

  • Serious illness affecting a close family member, or significant caring duties;

  • Significant adverse personal/family circumstances;

  • Significant caring duties for a family member/significant other affecting recent education;

  • Serious procedural/technical issues with the provision of the education or test (such as a significant teaching shortage for a prolonged period).

What would usually not be considered as mitigating circumstances?

Such circumstances might include:

  • Minor ailments such as cough, cold, headache etc. during studies or examination;

  • Personal disruptions or events that could have been anticipated such as holidays, moving house;

  • Poor time management and organisation, including late arrivals to examinations, or computer/printer/photocopier problems relating to deadlines or failure to inform yourself of assessment and examination guidelines;

  • Feeling unprepared for an examination, or suffering from mild stress or anxiety related to examinations without a medical note;

  • Situations which have already been adjusted for as part of assessment procedures (see below);

  • Absence from education, examination or assessment due to a family event such as a wedding.

What should an applicant do if mitigating circumstances affect their performance in academic examinations or aptitude tests?

We understand that many scenarios may involve an unexpected event. However, we would expect applicants to take responsibility where possible to ensure that all reasonable steps were taken to inform examination boards in a timely manner of any issues. Actions include:

  • Notifying exam boards in advance of any assessment of any need for special examination arrangements, where known.

  • Notifying exam boards promptly of any unusual circumstances which affected the procedural examination process (e.g. misprints or incorrect papers).

  • Seeking assistance from school, family, guardians or carers where available.

Important note: Most examination and assessment boards will have policies and procedures in place to take mitigating circumstances into account during the final marking/grading of an award. We would expect all applicants to use such procedures where they exist, and will request confirmation from the examination board, school or test centre that these were requested (and confirmation of what arrangements, if any, were granted).

What should an applicant do if mitigating circumstances affect their interview or selection day at King's?

We understand that interviews and selection days as part of the admissions process can involve challenging assessment in a new situation or environment. To try and prevent mishaps, travel delays or other events from affecting your performance, please:

  • Read the information provided for you in advance carefully (ensuring you understand travel directions, and allow appropriate time for travel).

  • If you are feeling ill just before your interview, inform Admissions Office staff as soon as possible and ask if it is possible to reschedule your appointment.

  • Listen to instructions on the day and ask for clarification if unsure.

If you have any concerns, or need advice speak to our staff as soon as possible to ensure we are fully informed and can take any issues into account when reviewing our assessments. Staff will be very happy to advise you.

I have a disability/health condition - is this considered a ‘mitigating circumstance’?

Education providers and examination boards will usually have mechanisms in place for supporting disabled students and providing any reasonable adjustments during their studies and examinations. As such, having a disability or health condition does not of itself constitute a ‘mitigating circumstance’ within this policy.  King’s is keen to encourage disabled applicants to apply and offers support for applicants whilst studying – see our Disability Advisory Service for further details.

Learners should ensure they make appropriate and timely arrangements for such support to be in place for examinations, or for selection events at King’s. For example, you should notify all examination boards of any adjustments required for aptitude tests or examinations (such as extra time, or different formats of papers) and you are expected to notify the Admissions Office as early as you can if you require reasonable adjustments to be made to enable an interview, selection day or other visit to King’s (e.g. should you need step-free access to your interview). 

King’s would usually only consider mitigating circumstances to apply if there are occasions where a student has not received the agreed level of support to achieve their learning outcomes, or suffers from an acute episode of illness not envisaged in any support agreement, which is serious, unexpected and beyond their control. There will also be occasions when late diagnosis has meant the education provider or examination board was not aware of the students’ circumstances: in such cases, we would ask that the student provide satisfactory evidence of the mitigating circumstances, and provide a valid reason why the information was not provided to the examination board. 

Who will see details of my mitigating circumstances?

Your information will be treated in confidence by the relevant decision-makers at King’s. The information provided will be treated with sensitivity, and only shared with those necessary as part of the decisions making process. At times, we may use partial or anonymised information in discussion with colleagues where appropriate. We will also need to ‘flag’ your electronic application with a specific code to ensure that we can monitor and operate the mitigating circumstance process described above.

We will not discuss your details with a third party outside of the university without your permission. If you are happy for us to discuss the circumstances of your communication with a third party, such as a teacher, parent or guardian, please let us know this in your written communication: for applicants applying through UCAS, you are strongly advised to nominate access to this third person officially through UCAS.

Who do I speak to about ongoing support and transition to
study?

Information on mitigating circumstances which you provide will normally be used for selection processes only. Where the mitigating circumstances have the possibility of continuing to affect the student’s academic performance (for example, recurring or continuing illness) it is the student’s responsibility to take appropriate contact with King’s Student Support services promptly prior to/after enrolment where necessary, to assist with their transition. We are happy to refer applicants to contacts for further support and information on request, but we will not share knowledge unless you have expressly asked us to in writing.

Please note there may be situations where it is felt it is in the applicant’s best interests to defer the start of their studies until the next academic year.  King’s will discuss this on a case by case basis and will usually be happy to grant deferral requests for most programmes.

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