20

An employer owes me wages and I have not been able to get them to comply without escalating matters. As a result, I have been preparing to take them to court, but I have an exam for my masters that I have not been able to focus on at all due to the substantial stress and uncertainty caused by dealing with this employer.

Does a UK university accept defering an exam due to legal matters as a vaild reason for deferrement especially when the missing payment comes at a time when it is really needed?

  • I can't answer and certainly not for the UK, but it may make a difference that it is the OP that has initiated the legal action, not that they are subject to legal action brought by another. – Buffy Aug 16 '18 at 19:38
  • 7
    @Buffy I don't see how. The plaintiff doesn't control when the trial will happen anymore than the defendant does. Of course it's not an excuse to go decide and register your complaint exactly on the day of your exam... But once it's done, I don't think you have much control over the timeline. – user9646 Aug 16 '18 at 19:52
  • 1
    Instead of trying to defer the exam, maybe you can offer to take the exam early? Then maybe you won't be lumped in with other students trying to get more time using bogus reasons. – GEdgar Aug 16 '18 at 20:16
  • 2
    @GEdgar It doesn't seem like OP is describing a scheduling conflict. They are looking for more time to prepare. – Bryan Krause Aug 16 '18 at 20:21
  • 2
    Just go ask the university administration. Ask the professor who will administer the exam first. Usually if there is a makeup exam prepared already, the professor won't mind. It really depends not just on the policies but on how much discretion the professor or faculty has over those policies. So go ask. It is definitely ok to ask even if your court hearing is not on the day of the exam. – Arthur Tarasov Aug 17 '18 at 0:42
37

Your original title seemed to imply you are talking about an ordered court appearance, which could be scheduled in conflict with an exam, in which case you should reschedule one or the other. If the court would refuse to reschedule, you would have fairly good reason to request the exam be delayed (I cannot answer the legal question of whether a school would be required to do so for that reason).

However, the body of your question makes it clear that you are just stressed out over a long time period. People are stressed out about all sorts of things. Other people in your program may have sick children or other family members, may deal with chronic illness themselves, may have to balance an additional job with their schoolwork, may have relationship problems, etc. Sometimes these issues are disruptive enough that a school may agree to give some lenience, and in some cases of disability or illness they may be required to, but for the most part you are expected to simply deal with them as part of life.

I can't know your specific situation, but being owed wages does not sound like it rises to the level of interruption that would require deferring an exam. You could consider asking, but this would probably be a favor rather than something you have a right to, so ask carefully if you must.

| improve this answer | |
  • 8
    The fact that somebody is in school should not mean that they should be deprived of their legal rights in the court system. And you're assuming that the money at stake is insignificant, which it may not be. It could pay for the OP's tuition or support their family, for example. Telling them to walk away from a huge chunk of money will not solve stress issues. I think its very unfair to be automatically dismissive of the OP's problems. – user71659 Aug 17 '18 at 2:53
  • 16
    @user71659 I don't see where you are reading anything about depriving anyone of their legal rights. If the court appearance coincides with the master's exam and can't be rescheduled the answerer recommends trying to reschedule the exam. It's just that there doesn't seem to be a particularly strong argument for asking for a delay on the exam if it's just extra stress from dealing with the court that's preventing the OP from preparing for it. In life there are often multiple competing sources of stress and you have to learn to deal with them. – DRF Aug 17 '18 at 6:58
  • 8
    @user71659 Neither did Bryan say the money is insignificant, nor did he say that OP should "walk away from a huge chunk of money". He did say, that everybody has to deal with all kinds of hardships. People seem to forget that sometimes due to the egocentric nature of our existence. I think the answer is fine. – Ian Aug 17 '18 at 7:35
  • 1
    @user71659: There is a gaping chasm between "encouraging personal responsibility and intelligent life management, in an often challenging human existence that's nonetheless nobody else's fault" and "depriving you of your legal rights". Just because you have the right to legal challenge does not mean everybody else must bend over backwards to accommodate you when you do so -- and them not doing so does not in any way constitute a violation of your rights. It would be beneficial to cease thinking of the rest of the population as tools that exist to make your particular life easier! – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 17 '18 at 14:52
  • @user71659 The question reads "I have been unable to prepare for an exam due to a specific stress in life. Is this a valid reason for the professor/university to defer my actual exam?" and the answer is "For this specific stress, probably not." – MonkeyZeus Aug 17 '18 at 14:52
17

Does a UK university accept defering an exam due to legal matters as a vaild reason for deferrement especially when the missing payment comes at a time when it is really needed?

TL;DR: You must read the policy of your university relevant to your case.

I can't speak for all UK universities, of course. However, in my current university (Russell Group member), you can't ask to defer an examination as these are set centrally by Registry. Rather, students who feel that they have a valid reason for missing a scheduled examination have to lodge a mitigating circumstance/s claim.

MitCerts fall into four categories, each with its own evidential requirements:

  1. Illness
  2. Bereavement
  3. Serious illness affecting a close family member
  4. Unforeseeable or unpreventable events.

If you were a student in our university, you would submit a MitCert citing unpreventable events. This type of MitCert is often required to be submitted before the examination. In addition, this type of MitCert is the broadest category and the evidential requirement is equally broad: "Independent documentary evidence must be provided." This means that you have to make the case for yourself that the hearing cannot be moved to a later date. This is because the policy states clearly that the following will not be regarded as mitigating circumstances: "...inadequate planning and time management, pressures from paid employment, any event that could reasonably have been expected or anticipated..."

I have represented my Department and Faculty on meetings of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee. In general, the Mitigating Circumstances Committee is biased for the student. The policy is clear: "The Mitigating Circumstances Committee... will always seek to act in the best interests of the student." We have considered applications citing attendance at hearings (as complainants, witnesses, or jury members) before and, while not common, are rather easy to decide because there is ample evidence from the court that the applicant's presence was required in some capacity or another.

In my university, the effect of a successful MitCert application depends on your student status, your year level, the credit weight of the examination, and the type of module (or subject) you are taking. In some cases, you will be allowed to take the resit examinations during the resit period as if the resit exam was your original attempt. In other cases, your marks will simply be carried forward. There are a few more consequences.

The effect of an unsuccessful MitCert application means that you will receive a zero mark for the examination with a special code indicating that you did not attend. Then, your final module mark will be calculated and the process proceeds as usual.

You must read the policy of your university. There is no substitute for this as policies and procedures differ from place to place.

Good luck.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Insofar as the OP makes it clear that they are not presently dealing with a scheduling conflict, but rather with simply feeling under-prepared, you don't actually answer the question at hand. It would seem the OP's situation might fall under the "time management" category of non-excuses (and "foreseeable", and maybe "pressures of paid employment", given it is precisely a pressure arising from payment and employment). Though your answer contains lots of other nice information (so +1). Do you think if the OP has been required to attend many court appearances this would help their MitCert? – zibadawa timmy Aug 17 '18 at 9:42
  • @zibadawatimmy On the other hand, being uncertain about whether you will get paid is by definition not a pressure of paid employment, nor is having to sue your employer for your wages something that can be reasonably expected. I'd say OP would need to take their case to the committee. – HAEM Aug 17 '18 at 13:55
  • 2
    "The effect of an unsuccessful MitCert application means that you will receive a zero mark for the examination with a special code indicating that you did not attend." Presumably this is unless, following the MitCert refusal, you decided to (possibly at some cost, e.g. dropping the legal case) go along to the exam anyway, and ended up doing quite well. That is, an unsuccessful MitCert doesn't in itself automatically leave you with zero marks. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 17 '18 at 14:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.