University guidance explains that PEC requests that relate to health, bereavement or COVID-19 do not currently require any documentary evidence. According to the guidance, this will remain in place for the duration of the 2020-21 academic year.
Lack of personal IT equipment and broadband failure are also considered extenuating circumstances.
The decision to scrap the need for documentary evidence was made in April. Speaking to The Courier, a spokesperson for Newcastle University explained that this was in light of “the challenges faced by our students”.
The University also hopes that the decision will “ease the burden on the NHS during the Covid-19 [sic] pandemic”.
Students are still required to explain the issue/s they have faced or are currently facing, and how this has affected their studies.
They will also still need to explain why they have asked for the specific adjustment they have requested. Adjustments include exam deferrals, assignment deadline extensions, repeating modules and repeating entire semesters or stages.
PEC requests – commonly known as ‘PEC forms’ – allow for adjustments when circumstances have “seriously affected” a student’s studies and/or assessments.
One Newcastle University student told The Courier that he wasn’t aware of the change in PEC policy, but welcomed it.
“It’s a good step, and definitely necessary,” he explained, but added that it was “not nearly enough support considering how directly the pandemic has affected students’ lives.”
In June, The Courier reported that the University would be considering the death of George Floyd as an extenuating circumstance. As such, students are able to submit a PEC request if their assessment performance has been affected by George Floyd’s death.
A student at Newcastle University speaking at the time explained that the decision was “understandable”. Watching footage of Floyd’s death, they added, “makes me afraid and sick”.
University policy surrounding PEC requests has not been without controversy. In November 2019, it emerged that multiple bereavement-related requests were only accepted by Newcastle after death certificates and funeral orders of service had been provided.
The student approached for this article opined that “PEC forms shouldn’t require documentary evidence in the first place.”
“The University should be taking students at their word when they’re dealing with issues.”