Is PEC a pain in the neck?

Written by Campus Comment, Comment

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For any student who has ever faced the daunting task of submitting a PEC form (Personal Extenuating Circumstances form) when they’re unwell or experiencing a challenging time in their personal life, they will know just how stressful and confusing the whole process is.

Often, the very thought of submitting a PEC form is a huge source of stress and upset in itself, making the issue even worse and creating a horrible cycle of you feeling bad enough to need a PEC but not sure if your ‘evidence’ will be enough to convince your school that you need the extension, extra time or whatever provision necessary.
Losing someone close to you is a horrific experience in itself, and you would hope that your university (that you pay huge sums of money to attend and consider your welfare) would help make the grieving process as stress-free as they can. However, the trend of the university asking for ‘evidence’ when a student requests time off or extensions due to a death of a family member or friend proves how little the university actually cares.
The official university policy is now that students do not have to send in evidence, but are “advised to obtain independent evidence” such as supporting statements from tutors; that’s still a difficult request, asking students to share details of their personal situations and grief to a member of staff to then just be used to prove they’re not lying. Worse still, is the suggestion that the PEC application will be “helped” if the student can provide information about factors like relationship to the person who died, how much study time was lost and even “the location of the funeral”. I find it appalling that students are asked to share personal details to appease staff who somehow expect grieving people to be coherent and in the right frame of mind to be compling detailed documents of evidence of an awful sad event that recently happened.

I have spoken to multiple people, from across various schools within Newcastle, who have shared their stories with me about being told to submit death certificates, funeral notices and supporting letters from grieving family members to prove that they needed the time off or extra provisions. This policy is obviously not being adhered to, or is expecting students to provide ridiculous amounts of really sensitive information whilst in the middle of their bereavement.
Whatever the university’s ‘official statement’ is, I truly do not believe that is what really happens to students who need PEC forms after losing someone. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to ask a parent, family member or friend to give you a death certificate, potentially only days after the death, just to appease your university bureaucracy. If the university thinks that people are going to lie about someone dying just to get out of an exam or get an extension because they’ve just not bothered to do the essay…let people have that on their conscience. If people genuinely do lie about this, that’s on them to recognise what a horrible action that is. The university should be helping the majority of students who just want a crumb of welfare and to feel like their university sees them as more than just a lying £27k.


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Last modified: 20th November 2019

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