Disability and medical conditions

Individual examination arrangements may be approved for students who would be disadvantaged by sitting formal University examinations under standard examination conditions as a result of a disability or other condition.

Individual arrangements are designed to ensure that equitable examination conditions are provided, to enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and competence notwithstanding their disability.

Frequently asked questions

Are items permitted in the exam room for medical reasons?

If you need to bring items into the exam room for medical reasons, eg inhalers, food/drink (other than the permitted 500ml bottle of water) wrist supports etc you must seek approval from your department (for short-term conditions) or Disability Services (for disabilties, permanent conditions or conditions that have lasted or are expected to last a year or more). You will be asked to supply recent medical evidence in support of your need for this arrangement.

Who can apply for individual arrangements in exams?

There are two main groups of students who need alternative exam arrangements:

  • Students with a medically diagnosed disability (as defined by the Equality Act) or other condition (eg dyslexia) as diagnosed by a formal assessment undertaken after the age of 16. If you feel you qualify for this you should book an appointment with Disability.
  • Students with a temporary injury, condition or illness eg a broken wrist on the writing hand. You should contact your department in this instance.

 

 

How do I apply for an individual arrangement?

Applications for individual arrangements on the basis of a disability or a long term health condition are made via Disability.  It is your responsibility to book an appointment with a Disability Advisor who will work with you, your department and the Exams Office to formulate a case for appropriate adjustments to be made. You will be required to obtain medical evidence to support your request. 

This must be done with enough time to enable Disability Services to prepare your case and submit the request to the Exams Office at least six weeks before the beginning of an exam period. 

 

What are the timeframes? What if my request is not approved in time for my exam?

The Exams Office must receive the request from Disability Services at least six working weeks in advance of the exam period to make sure that there is adequate time to make arrangements for all students. Therefore you should book an appointment with Disability Services well in advance of this to ensure they can prepare your case and submit the request to the Exams Office by the six week deadline. If you do not already have your medical evidence you should book an appointment with your adviser even sooner so they can help you obtain this. Ideally you should contact Disability Services as soon as you begin your course (or as soon as you are diagnosed, if this occurs after you have started your course). 

If your condition is a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia you will need an educational psychologists' report undertaken after your 11th birthday. If you do not have this, Disability Services can advise you about arranging a full assessment. As this process can take a long time you should contact Disability Services at your earliest convenience. 

If requests are received with less than six weeks to go before an exam period it may not be operationally possible to put the arrangements in place. In such cases you may wish to consider that the following is classed as an exceptional circumstance 

  • Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments are not yet in place and where the delay is not due to the student

Please note that if you wish to make an exceptional circumstances claim you may be asked to evidence why the delay in applying for your adjustments was out of your control (for instance, you attempted to obtain medical evidence in good time, and the delay was with your practitioner). 

What information do I need to provide?

You will be required to provide medical evidence outlining your disability or condition, and indicating the ways in which, and the degree to which, the condition affects you. This could be a letter from any medical professional involved in your treatment, eg a doctor, nurse, midwife, psychiatrist etc. We do not accept evidence from the Open Door team or counselling/therapeutic services who are not registered health professionals, from supervisors or tutors, or anyone who is not a medical professional.

How is an individual arrangement decided?

The University's specialist Disability Advisers will meet with you to consider your case and review your medical evidence. They will decide with you what arrangements are to be reqeusted. 

The arrangements must not give you an unfair advantage over other candidates. They should not reduce the validity and reliability of the assessment and must not compromise the integrity of the examination.

The nature of the arrangement will be determined according to your particular needs. A diagnosed disability or injury may be experienced differently by different people in the way it affects their completion of academic assessments. The recommendation made will take account of the learning outcomes and assessment aims of the work to be undertaken, so you should not expect the same arrangement to apply in all types of assessment or to be necessarily the same as another student in the University, even if they have the same condition as you.

The Standing Committee on Assessment monitors all arrangements to reduce the chances that the implementation of the arrangements across the University might advantage or disadvantage certain students. For this reason not all recommendations are approved, and some proposed arrangements may be varied. 

You will be advised by the Exams Office by email if your arrangements are approved. 

What arrangements are available? What if I need to change my arrangements?

Arrangements depend on individual need, but may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Extra time
  • Use of a University PC
  • A smaller or individual room
  • Use of specialised equipment or furniture eg a height-adjustable chair
  • Permission to bring food, drink or medical supplies into the exam
  • Adaptations to exam materials, eg question papers printed on coloured paper or with large font
  • A reader or scribe
  • Exemption from being penalised for spelling or grammar errors 

Other arrangements can be requested based on individual need.

If your condition worsens or your needs change after your Student Support Plan has been put in place you must make a new appointment with Disability if you require any additional arrangements to be put in place. It is your responsibility to contact Disability, even if you have advised anyone else (eg your departmental administrator or supervisor) of your changing needs. Your Student Support Plan will then be updated if these changes are approved. No new arrangements can be added without going through Disability. 

If your condition improves and you no longer require any or all of your arrangements please speak to your department in the first instance. They can recommend to us that your arrangements be reduced or removed altogether. We would however recommend that you also consult with your Disability Adviser to ensure that you are still receiving any support that you do need. Please note that continuing to utilise an arrangement that is no longer required could be regarded as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage and may be subject to Academic Misconduct procedures.

How long does an individual arrangement last?

If you have a permanent condition your arrangements will be put in place for the entirety of your course - you will not need to make further requests for the arrangements to be applied in subsequent exam periods.

Please note that if you transfer to a new course (eg you change from studying for a BA in English to a BA in History) or finish your course and start a new one (eg you did an undergraduate degree and then returned to do a Masters), your arrangements will not automatically be carried over onto your new course. You must reapply via Disability Services so they can ensure the arrangements are appropriate in light of the new course. 

If you have a temporary condition, arrangements will be put in place for the forthcoming exam period only. If you feel the arrangements will need to continue in your next exams, you will need to reapply, producing contemporary evidence showing that the condition is still affecting you. If your temporary condition becomes long-term (ie lasting or expected to last a year or more) you should make an appointment with Disability Services to have a Student Support Plan drawn up. This will ensure you are receiving all the support you need, and that any necessary arrangements can be put in place for the duration of your course. 

If you have arrangements in place and your condition changes so that you no longer need them, please advise your department as soon as you realise this. Please note that continuing to use arrangements that are no longer necessary may be construed as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage and as such may be considered to be attempted academic misconduct. 

 

 

What if my request is not due to a disability?

Not all exam arrangements will be for a long-term disability. You may experience a temporary or short-term condition such as an injury, pregnancy, recovery from surgery etc.

In such cases, you do not need to see Disability Services. However medical evidence of your condition (eg a doctor’s letter or hospital discharge note) will be required. Please note that if it is not immediately obvious how your condition will affect your ability to complete youe exams under standard conditions (eg an injury to your dominant hand will obviously impact on your ability to write) then the medical evidence must also outline how the condition is affecting you and why the recommended adjustment(s) would be appropriate. Please take this to your department, who will then submit the request for exam arrangements on your behalf. Such arrangements will be implemented for the current or forthcoming examination period only. If you need to the arrangements to continue you will be required to provide updated medical evidence before the next exam period to demonstrate how you are still being affected by the condition. 

If you require permission to take a single small item into an exam with you to access during the exam for medical (or related) purposes, such as an inhaler, an epipen or an item of medication, but do not require any other adjustments you do not need to see Disability Services. Please take evidence of why you require this (eg a letter from your doctor stating that the item will be required during the exam) to your department who will arrange for permission to be granted for this. Please note that permission to bring in food or any items that may cause a distraction to other students (eg a blood testing kit if it beeps) will not be granted in this way - the standard process for requesting exam arrangements via Disability Services must be followed if you wish to request such items. If you have any queries about which items may be allowed please contact exams@york.ac.uk.

False claims

Submitting a false claim for an individual arrangement could be regarded as an attempt to gain unfair advantage, which would be an academic offence that would be dealt with under the Academic Misconduct procedures (see University of York Regulation 5.7(d)(vi) and Academic Misconduct Policies, Guidelines and Procedures (PDF , 322kb)).

Please note that if your circumstances change and your individual arrangement is no longer required you must advise your department in the first instance. Continuing to utilise an arrangement that is no longer required will be regarded as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage and will be subject to Academic Misconduct procedures.

Data Protection Act 1998

By submitting an application for individual arrangements you are agreeing to the University holding these personal data for the purposes of processing your application. The University will hold the data in accordance with its notification under the 1998 Data Protection Act.

Where can I get further guidance?

If you feel you need more help in putting forward your request for individual arrangements , please contact:

Disability Services

Students’ Union Advice Centre