If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty, you may or may not have special requirements with regard to your university written examinations.
On submission of relevant medical documentation you may be allowed extra time for your written examinations, and / or alternative practical arrangements. If you think that this may apply in your case, and you have not done so already, you should contact Student Wellbeing as soon as possible to discuss any special requirements. Specialist staff in Student Wellbeing will assess your need(s) and consider any medical documentation, for example, an Educational Psychologist’s Report (required in the case of dyslexia) or a Medical Certificate.
Should Student Wellbeing conclude that you are entitled to special arrangements, they will inform this office accordingly. You will then receive an email from this office confirming the arrangements for the Semester One and Semester Two examination periods.
Further information can be found on the Student Wellbeing website.
Newcastle University is committed to ensuring that disabled students are assessed appropriately and on equal terms with other students. We endeavour to meet with the QAA Code of Practice for Disabled Students regarding examinations (precept 13):
'Assessment and examination policies, practices and procedures should provide disabled students with the same opportunity as their peers to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes.'
Therefore, the Examinations and Awards section, in consultation with Student Wellbeing, aim to provide a fair and flexible examination system for disabled students.
The following criteria should be interpreted with a flexibility which views each candidate as an individual for the following areas:
The nature and onset of disability; even within the same type of disability there will be variations in the specific arrangements that will be required. The type of arrangements made will also vary according to whether the impairment is long-term, recently acquired, fluctuating or intermittent.
The nature of the assessment to be undertaken; students with similar disabilities may require very different arrangements depending on the specific assessment tasks employed within degree programmes. It may also be the case that for an individual student, alternative arrangements might be required for some tasks and not for others.
All students are required to produce evidence which confirms their disability and indicates how this affects them in their day to day activities. The type of evidence may vary, however it will usually come from an external agency with detailed knowledge of the student’s condition, eg GP, consultant, educational psychologist.
Students with Dyslexia (or specific learning difficulties)
The supporting evidence required would be an assessment report from a Chartered Educational Psychologist (normally dated no earlier than two years prior to enrolment at the University), or an earlier psychological assessment submitted together with a post-16 update carried out either by a Chartered Educational Psychologist or a specialist teacher holding the Postgraduate Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties. The report should indicate the degree to which dyslexia or specific learning difficulty might affect the student’s performance in higher education and specific recommendations for support and assessment arrangements.
Examination arrangements could include extra time (normally 10 or 15 minutes extra time per hour), the use of a computer with spell check, the use of a reader and / or scribe, the use of coloured overlays, or the modification of language on examination papers (depending on recommendations in the psychological or assessment of need reports).
Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
The supporting evidence required (outlining the type and degree of hearing loss) would be either a medical report or an assessment of need report. The provision of appropriate arrangements would depend very much on whether the student was born deaf or became deaf at an early age, if their first or preferred language is British Sign Language or if they have an acquired hearing loss.
Examination arrangements could include extra time, examinations delivered in British Sign Language (BSL), specific seating arrangements in the venue, written examination / invigilation instructions, or the modification of examination papers (depending on recommendations in the medical report or assessment of need report).
Students who are Blind or Partially Sighted
The supporting evidence required would be an assessment report from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) who have local specialist agencies able to give recommendations regarding examinations, or evidence from an optician.
Examination arrangements could include the paper and instructions in an alternative format, for example Braille, large print, audio cassette, electronically or read aloud by a scribe. Students may produce their work electronically using a computer with appropriate software, or use a scribe to take notes from verbal instructions.
Blind or partially sighted students usually require extra time in examinations. Some blind or partially sighted students require significant amounts of extra time depending upon the text format employed, the mode of answering and the nature of the materials being assessed.
Student with Other Disabilities
This could include students who have Multiple Sclerosis, Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), back problems, head injuries, epilepsy, dexterity problems (eg a repetitive strain injury) or have mobility problems (eg wheelchair users). The supporting evidence required will vary according to the specific circumstances but will generally be from an external agency with detailed knowledge of the student’s condition, eg GP or consultant / specialist.
Examination arrangements could include sitting examinations in accessible venues and being appropriately positioned within an examination room (eg close to exits, frequent access to toilets). Students whose ability to write or type is impaired, or whose concentration is adversely affected (eg by prescribed medication) should have extra time determined individually on the basis of specialist advice. For those students who experienced pain or discomfort when sitting in one position for long periods, extra time may be allocated in the form of supervised rest breaks.
Student Wellbeing may contact individual applicants who have declared a disability on their application form and discuss possible alternative examination arrangements available within the University (in accordance with the University’s Admissions Procedure for Students with Disabilities).
Students whose particular requirements have been identified prior to registration will be expected to discuss these further with appropriate academic members of staff, and staff in Student Wellbeing, within the six weeks following registration.
Students who identify particular requirements during or after registration should be referred to Student Wellbeing to identify aspects of assessment methods that might require adaptation, and to negotiate the most appropriate arrangements to be made. It will be the responsibility of the student to make these needs known to the University at the earliest opportunity. Students should inform Student Wellbeing of any requirements either directly or via their Personal Tutor.
Prior to the main registration period, all Personal Tutors will receive a memorandum from the Examinations and Awards section advising them of the need to direct students to Student Wellbeing.
All members of University staff should note, however, that in accordance with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, if a student declares this information to any member of University staff it is deemed that they have informed the University of their disability. All staff (including Degree Programme Directors, Head of Schools, clerical staff, technicians, support staff etc.) should therefore, with the student’s permission, forward any information that is disclosed to them to staff in Student Wellbeing.
A disability which has not been declared prior to an assessment cannot be taken into account retrospectively, with regard to that assessment, unless the student can show a valid reason for not having declared it.
The appropriate Student Wellbeing Adviser will ensure that:
Once the student and the Student Wellbeing Adviser have agreed the proposed adjustments, these arrangements should be requested in writing using the ‘Special Requirements for Examinations’ form. The completed form should be retained by the Student Wellbeing Adviser and copies forwarded to the student, the personal tutor, and the Examinations and Awards section.
All adjustments to all examination arrangements are to be regarded as ‘concessions’ which are proposed by Student Wellbeing and approved (in most cases) by the Academic Administration Manager responsible for Examinations and Awards on behalf of the University Concessions Committee.
Specialist staff in Student Wellbeing are responsible for the assessment of student’s additional requirements. Student Wellbeing are responsible for informing the Examinations and Awards section of the outcome of the assessment, and for detailing the special arrangements that are proposed.
Student Wellbeing will also inform the Examinations and Awards section of any additional requirements for examination papers (eg large print, Braille or adapted by a teacher of the deaf).
Student Wellbeing staff will not be expected to invigilate at examinations unless they are willing to do so in exceptional circumstances ie for a student with particular requirements who would benefit from a member of Student Wellbeing being present, or if arrangements have been made at very short notice at the request of Student Wellbeing and an Assistant Invigilator cannot be appointed.
Support Worker Service
If a student requires a support worker eg a note-taker, Reader or Scribe, the Examinations and Awards section will, if required, arrange this with the Support Worker Service. In most cases the Support Worker will not be expected to act as an invigilator and an Assistant Invigilator will be appointed (unless there is a specified agreement between Examinations and Awards section, Student Wellbeing and Support Worker Co-ordinator).
Examinations and Awards
In order to ensure that all students are aware that alternative examination arrangements may be made for those with a disability / specific learning difficulty, the Examinations and Awards section will publicise this across the Academic Schools, urging any such students to register with Student Wellbeing. With particular reference to dyslexia / specific learning difficulty, the Examinations and Awards section will email all students in November who during registration declared a disability but who have yet to register with Student Wellbeing.
Upon receipt of a completed ‘Special Arrangements for Examinations’ form, the Examinations and Awards section will make the necessary arrangements as proposed by Student Wellbeing.
The Examinations and Awards section is responsible for accommodating and arranging the invigilation for students who:
The ‘Special Arrangements for Examinations’ form must be received by the Examinations and Awards section by the following deadlines in order that arrangements can be made in time for the start of the examination periods:
The Examinations and Awards section will email all students to confirm the arrangements that have been made prior to each examination period during that academic year. Students are asked to acknowledge receipt of their email.
Only in exceptional circumstances will forms submitted after the above deadlines be considered by the Academic Administration Manager responsible for Examinations and Awards, for example, when the impairment is of a sudden and temporary nature such as a sprained wrist. In these cases, providing a PEC form has been submitted at least two working days before the exam(s) in question, all reasonable efforts willl be made to accommodate the students requirements. If a temporary disability is reported within two working days of the exam(s), the student will be required to take a concession, meaning they would sit the exam(s) in the next examination period, as 'first attempts'. Any requests for additional support regarding temporary disabilities must be made through the relevant School.
The Examinations and Awards section will be responsible for ensuring that Senior Invigilators and Assistant Invigilators are made aware of the arrangements agreed for individual candidates and are provided with a brief indication of the nature of the disability where necessary (only minimal information will be provided).
Where Student Wellbeing has proposed that a student take their examinations in a separate venue (but not on a computer or under Medical Supervision which can be arranged by the Examinations and Awards section), Academic Schools are responsible for identifying and booking suitable examination venues in the School. The Academic School should inform the Examinations and Awards section of the room(s) which have been booked.
Where a student requires an examination paper with enlarged text due to a visual impairment, the Examinations and Awards section will contact the Academic School to ask they provide a version of the paper in the required size, for example, for the examination paper to be A4 in size but with text in size 16 fonts. In these cases, Academic Schools will need to pay particular attention to the size of figures, diagrams or illustrations to ensure that these are accessible.
Where Student Wellbeing has proposed that a student use a personal computer to complete their formal written examinations, the Examinations and Awards section will arrange for the student to take their examinations on a computer in a University computing cluster. The Examinations and Awards section will inform the student of the name and location of the computing cluster prior to each examination period.
Should a student wish to familiarise themselves with the computer prior to an examination this can be arranged by the Examinations and Awards upon request (normally on the Friday before the start of the examination period). A student’s own equipment will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances (and will be vetted by a member of University staff before each examination).
The following should be noted with regard to the specification of the computer and the invigilation of the examinations in this venue: