Search for courses or information

1. Scope of the Policy and Underlying Principles

  1. The Supporting Elite Athletes’ Academic Study Policy (‘the policy’) offers guidance for students and academic staff regarding options available to students who wish, whilst studying for a UEL degree, to maintain active participation as an elite athlete in a particular sporting activity. 
  2. UEL recognises that a wide range of benefits result from participation in sporting and recreational activities for individuals, teams and their communities, and that such benefits may be gained from many different levels of participation in sport (ranging from leisure activities to elite levels of performance).  We accept that many students actively balance participation in sport alongside academic studies, and do not experience interference with completion of modules and programme of study. 
  3.  UEL appreciates the particular demands experienced by particular students who attempt to balance academic study with participation in sport as elite athletes.  Exceptionally, these demands may have potential to severely interfere with academic study, in which case the guidance of this policy will apply to two potential situations:

1.3.1   SITATION ONE - Assessment Flexibility
Where the student/athlete is studying for a module and fully expects to complete the required assessment within UEL timeframes, but an event beyond his/her control (e.g. international team selection) will prevent him/her from taking the assessment alongside the main student body.
  
1.3.2   SITUATION TWO – Pacing the degree
Where a student/athlete feels that owing to their specific sporting commitments, s/he will be unable to adequately undertake agreed levels of academic study and participate in module assessment, but wishes to reduce their study load, or request a break from study.

1.4 Central to this policy are two fundamental expectations:

1.4.1   That each student/athlete (irrespective of whether they study at Undergraduate, Masters or Post-Graduate Research level) will have a named academic staff member who, in undertaking the proactive role of ‘Academic Advisor’ for the student/athlete (see Appendix One), will provide a central point of contact for discussion of any potential areas of concern that may relate to aspects of this policy, and offer appropriate guidance throughout the degree. In discussion with the student/athlete, the Academic Advisor and the Director of Sport will help identify, in advance, the likely impact of training and competition schedules alongside participating in academic study and assessment, and will support the student in liaising with other academic colleagues where necessary. Ideally, a pre-academic year meeting will be convened to agree a suitable progression plan for the student/athlete throughout the year;

and

1.4.2   That each student/athlete takes a mature and responsible attitude towards combining their study and sporting commitments, accepting it is their responsibility to inform their Academic Advisor of any potential calendar tensions, as soon as they are aware that it might even be a possibility.

2. Definitions

2.1 Sport
Refers only those participating in sports recognised by Sport (http://www.sportengland.org), or the English Institute of Sport (www.eis2win.uk), or, where there may be some discrepancy, by UEL’s Director of Sport,  will be eligible for application under this policy.

2.2 Student/Elite athlete
Refers only to those students who engage in sport at an elite level by
a) representing his/her  country at a major international competition
or
b) being involved in preparation immediately preceding an international competition
or
c) participating in a major national championship.

2.3 Assessment
Refers to academic work undertaken as part of a named module for which a mark (and academic credit) is awarded for coursework assignments e.g. essays, portfolios, presentations and examinations. More information is available in UEL’s Assessment Policy (UEL, 2007)

3. SITUATION ONE – Assessment Flexibility
3.1  Situation One DOES APPLY where the student/athlete is studying for a module and fully expects to complete the required assessment within UEL timeframes, but an event beyond his/her control (e.g. international team selection) will prevent him/her from taking the assessment alongside the main student body. The student/athlete may apply for Assessment Flexibility.

3.2  Situation One DOES NOT APPLY to a situation in which a student/athlete feels that due to high level sporting commitments, s/he will be unable to adequately undertake agreed levels of academic study and participate in module assessment, and wishes to reduce their study load, or request a break from study.

3.3 Student/athlete Responsibility
3.3.1 The personal responsibilities of the student/athlete underpin this policy (see 1.4.2). Since the timescale for notification of selection lies beyond a student/athlete’s control, student/athletes should inform their Academic Advisor and the Director of Sport that they wish to request Assessment Flexibility as soon as they are aware that missing a module assessment  might be a possibility i.e. as soon as they are aware that selection may take place. 

3.3.2 If the student/athlete wishes to be absent from an assessment owing to preparation for an international training event, the student/athlete should inform their Academic Advisor and the Director of Sport, and then negotiate with their sport’s National Governing Body to ascertain whether a modified length of stay at the training camp might be possible in order to take the examination on time with other students at UEL.

3.4 Duration of Absence
3.4.1 If Assessment Flexibility is granted it will be for the duration of the preparation and competition only. A student/athlete will be expected to return to UEL immediately the competition is over. Extended absences for non-competitive reasons will not be granted.

3.4.2 If the competition is overseas, the period of absence may include time to compensate for jet lag. If the competition is four or more time zones away, one day may be added to the end of the competition, if eight or more time zones away, two days may be added. This must be requested by the student/athlete at the time of the request for Assessment Flexibility, and may not be changed during or after the period of absence.  If this cannot be accommodated, a request for Assessment Flexibility may be made.

3.5 Assessment Flexibility Options

3.5.1 EXAMINATION (for programmes governed by modular regulations): Move from First Opportunity to the routinely scheduled Second Opportunity without capping penalty being applied.
            No further opportunity for a second opportunity (resit) will be available until the next formal assessment period (i.e. individual resit opportunities will not be created for one student). This may have implications for progression in the next academic year and for subsequent module selection.

3.5.2 EXAMINATION (for programmes governed by modular regulations): Undertake a written examination in situ where the student/athlete is competing. The student/athlete, together with their academic advisor must have considered all implications, e.g. for the exam to be taken at an antisocial hour to ensure it is synchronised with the UEL examination, for adequate invigilation, private examination room, proximity of examination building to campus, travel arrangements, means by which the examination paper may be received and returned, additional costs payable by the student/athlete etc. For this option to be approved, adequate evidence from the Coach must be received by the Academic Advisor in consultation with relevant academic staff such as Module/Programme/ Field Leaders (Undergraduate and Masters level students), prior to leaving for the sporting event, it must be approved by the Dean of School, and cannot, unless in highly exceptional circumstances, be renegotiated once the student/athlete has departed for the trip. Standard guidance procedures within the School will be available from the Academic Advisor.

N.B. Practical, laboratory or any other type of examinations may not be assessed in situ, since this would require specialised facilities and/or support and would not therefore be feasible.

3.5.3 COURSEWORK (for programmes governed by modular regulations):

Either:

  1. Defer First Opportunity to the routinely scheduled Second Opportunity (preferred option) without capping penalty being applied.

No further opportunity for a second opportunity (resit) will be available until the next formal assessment period (i.e. individual resit opportunities will not be created for one student). This may have implications for progression in the next academic year and for subsequent module selection.

Or:

Defer hand-in to accommodate a missed period of preparation and/or submission deadline. Most coursework is published at the beginning of each semester. Occasionally, coursework is published later, and UEL’s Assessment Policy stipulates that a minimum period of 3 weeks notice must be given prior to coursework submission.   Ideally, student/athletes will prepare for coursework and submit it prior to leaving for the period of training/competition.  In exceptional circumstances, absence for preparation or competition will interfere with coursework preparation/submission.  Student/athletes may request an extended submission to correspond with the missed period: e.g. if 2 weeks of preparation are missed, a late submission of 2 weeks may be requested, commencing on the return date; e.g. if the submission date is missed by 2 days, submission must take place within 2 days of the return date, (including a jet lag period where relevant).

3.5.4   POST_GRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS: must discuss with their Academic Advisor and Director of Study, the potential effect of any periods of absence for preparation or competition on all aspects of study.  Consideration should be given to dates set for activities such as: participation in skills training, research registration deadlines, annual review, the transfer process from MPhil to PhD, handling in completed thesis, date for the viva, and deadlines for completion of any revisions. Ideally student/athletes will agree dates for these activities and events that will not require subsequent adjustment.  However in exceptional circumstances, absence for preparation or competition may interfere with agreed dates.  Student/athletes may, in these circumstances, request Assessment Flexibility  to renegotiate a date that will correspond with both the missed period (as described in 3.5.3) and academic availability for activities such as a rescheduled viva.  

3.6 Assessment Flexibility Procedure
3.6.1 At the earliest opportunity the student/athlete should discuss the possibility of missed examinations or coursework with his/her Academic Advisor, ideally prior to selection for the team or squad. This should ideally be discussed at the initial pre-academic year meeting alongside the Director of Sport.
3.6.2 The student/athlete should obtain a supporting statement from their National Governing Body as to the nature of the competition / training camp, including when the student/athlete was informed of their selection/possible selection and forward these to both the Director of Sport or designated nominee and their Academic Advisor.

3.6.3 The Academic Advisor and Director of Sport will discuss the request for Assessment Flexibility with the Dean of School, considering: the nature of the request; the accompanying evidence; whether the student/athlete has acted in a timely and responsible manner in terms of their organisation and communication of selection/possible selection.

3.6.4 The student/athlete will be informed in writing of the outcome (decline/approve) by the Academic Advisor.

3.6.5 If approved, final arrangements will be agreed between student/athlete and the Academic Advisor, and the student/athlete’s DELTA record will be amended.

3.6.6 If declined, the student/athlete may discuss the reasons with the Academic Advisor and Director of Sport.

4. SITUATION TWO – Pacing a Degree

4.1. Situation Two DOES APPLY where a student/athlete feels that due to high level sporting commitments, s/he will be unable to adequately undertake agreed levels of academic study and participate in module assessment, but wishes to reduce their study load, or request a break in study.

4.2 Situation Two DOES NOT APPLY where:
-  a student/athlete is studying for a module and fully expects to complete the required assessment within UEL timeframes, but an event beyond his/her control (e.g. international team selection) will prevent him/her from taking the assessment alongside the main student body. In this situation, the student/athlete may apply for Assessment Flexibility
- where a student or student/athlete is experiencing difficulties with their academic load, irrespective of any sporting commitments they have, or for reasons unrelated to sport.

4.3 The expression “Pacing a Degree” relates to the process by which a student/athlete chooses to delay the rate at which they study (e.g. to undertake two modules in one semester rather than three as a full-time undergraduate student or to take a break from study (e.g. for one or two semesters).  This will only be pursued if the student/athlete makes a firm decision to request such a course of action.  Guidance will be offered by the Academic Advisor, in consultation with other academic colleagues where relevant.
Information regarding minimum numbers of modules that may be studied at one time, maximum times in which a degree may be completed and procedures for students who may wish to request a break in study are available in UEL’s  Manual of General Regulations (UEL, 2010).
N.B. A decision to reduce the number of modules taken in one semester may effectively cause the student/athlete to amend their status to that of part-time student, and may affect the rate of progression through the degree.  Options to reduce modules and/or to take a break from study may have additional consequences e.g.  affect on bursary payments to undergraduate students etc.

4.4 Student/athlete Responsibility
4.4.1 The personal responsibilities of the student/athlete underpin this policy (see 1.4.2). Since the timescale for notification of selection lies beyond a student/athlete’s control, students should inform the Academic Advisor and the Director of Sport that they wish to consider Pacing a Degree before the end of the preceding semester.  

4.5 Pacing a Degree Procedure
4.5.1 At the earliest opportunity the student/athlete should discuss their concerns with his/her Academic Advisor, raising their interest in pacing their degree.

4.5.2 The Academic Advisor and Director of Sport will discuss the request for Pacing a Degree with the Dean of School, considering: the nature of the request; the accompanying evidence; whether the student/athlete has acted in a timely and responsible manner in terms of their organisation and communication of selection/possible selection.

4.5.3 Applications made to pace a degree for the semester in which study has already commenced will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances involving severe, unforeseen and unpredictable events, and must be approved by the Academic Advisor, the Director of Sport and the Dean of School.

4.5.4 The student/athlete will be informed in writing of the outcome (decline/approve) by the Academic Advisor.

4.5.5 If approved, final arrangements will be agreed between student/athlete and the Academic Advisor, and the student/athlete’s DELTA record will be amended.

4.5.6 If declined, the student/athlete may discuss the reasons with the Academic Advisor and Director of Sport.

Acknowledgement
UEL wishes to acknowledge the work of Loughborough University (2010), whose work have informed the structure of this policy.

Further information

Appendix One

Indicative Role of the Academic Advisor

The Academic Advisor will be a named contact for each student who is an elite athlete in order to help:

  1. Ensure proactive identification of issues with module assessment, completion and progression that may arise from participation in specific training/sporting activities
  2. The student/athlete understand the issues and their implications for  study and progression
  3. Define appropriate choices and actions for resolution
  4. Support effective communication with other academic colleagues regarding issues of concern e.g. module and programme leaders, Directors of Study and Dean of School
  5. Advise the student/athlete in writing of the outcome of an application for ‘assessment flexibility’ or ‘pacing a degree’ arrangements

In order to achieve the above, it is recommended that the Academic Advisor will:

  1. Hold a pre-academic year meeting with the student/elite athlete and the Director of Sport to identify agree a suitable progression plan for the year
  2. Meet with the student/athlete a minimum of once per semester to  review progress and /or deal with any issues arising.