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Is my girlfriend being unreasonable or the University?

(80 Posts)
Fluffywhitecloud Wed 25-Oct-17 23:20:52

NM as this is revealing. I have previously posted for advice and would like to keep threads separate.
My girlfriend has got into a situation that has infuriated me. Right now she balances a 30 hr work week with a full time university degree. She's had a few struggles over the last few months with ill health.
She is managing to cope but had a shock earlier this week when a second cousin passed away. She went into shock and it took time to calm her.....this took place in the time she should have been travelling to a university seminar which she obviously wasn't in a fit state to attend.
The university now want a death certificate as evidence but she has said it's too insensitive to ask her extended family and that as she only missed one, non assessed class she will not provide this. She has offered to attend a later class but they rejected this. She has said that she will not harass her cousins family for a copy of the death certificate for her lecturer and that if her absence is more than 5 days she will get a doctors note. the class was not assessed but she has said she will deal with any penalties as she is not supplying it and feels she has done all she can. She emailed to say it was not easily accessible and that she is self certifiying as prr the departmental policy.
I'm glad to say she is getting back to her normal self but is still grieving. Was she being unreasonable or were the university being insensitive? I'm worried about the potential consequences for her

43percentburnt Wed 25-Oct-17 23:23:34

Can one be purchased from the registry office without bothering the family?

hiyasminitsme Wed 25-Oct-17 23:24:56

A doctor won't write a letter for this unless she was seen in that time and even then it'll usually be pretty vague

BanjoStarz Wed 25-Oct-17 23:25:03

in my experience a single seminar won't be a problem - as she's already said she could self certify for illness for 5 days.

I think they're being massively unreasonable asking for a death certificate copy unless there's a whole backstory of missed seminars and academic problems.

Although I suppose it depends on the course and university.

LiquoricePickle Wed 25-Oct-17 23:25:05

I'm fairly certain that death records are public so she could probably order one online without asking the family? It may be too soon though. Someone else more knowledgeable will probably come along soon to help you on that.

I do think the university is also being unreasonable. What would they ask for if she had a headache? I'm assuming she could self certify then,? It's really just one non assessed seminar?

Changerofname987654321 Wed 25-Oct-17 23:26:21

Is her attendance normally ok? How long does she think she will need off for the death of a distant cousin?

LineysRun Wed 25-Oct-17 23:27:56

Never, ever have I or a colleague asked for a death certificate to be produced at any university with which I've been associated.

There are always written policies - they should be respected. A GP's note would be sufficient at most normal institutions, to confirm stress or anxiety around a particular situation e.g. bereavement.

grumpysquash3 Wed 25-Oct-17 23:27:56

It's really unlikely they would be so heavy handed about one single incident of non-attendance. I suspect there is more history to this, maybe that her attendance has been generally poor and she is on a last warning. This could be possible if she is juggling 30 hours of work with a degree course, there are bound to be clashes.

BestZebbie Wed 25-Oct-17 23:28:40

Not going to the seminar was reasonable if an emergency/out-of-the-ordinary situation had occurred. (Although I would also wildly speculate that with nearly two full time jobs on the go, there isn't going to be a lot of spare emotional energy for dealing with added stressors such as this bad news.)
Asking for a copy of the death certificate was reasonable as that is standard policy if death is used as a reason for not completing university work (especially for a more distant relative where unfortunately fraud is easier to pull off).
Not asking her family for the certificate is reasonable as she is right, it probably would seem insensitive/making it about her in that situation.
I strongly doubt that there will be any actual "consequences" for your gf from the university.

Fluffywhitecloud Wed 25-Oct-17 23:30:04

This is her first absence and the seminar she missed was for her elective. She hasn't studied it before but they seem to set their own rules (i.e they would want a GP note for any absence including a 1 day headache) wheras other classes in the school only need evidence for over 5 days/if you miss an exam

She's fairly adamant that she is not providing it unless she has missed an exam. I was mainly worried in case this was standard practice at university to demand a death certificate - apparently not!

shouldwestayorshouldwego Wed 25-Oct-17 23:30:16

Yes I think up to 6 months you need to approach the local registry office and then over six months it should be available on the national service. It costs about a tenner or more for a faster service. Assuming that the course doesn't end until June she could say that she will order one. Unless it is a course with required attendance (e.g. social work) it does seem somewhat infantilising. Whatever happened to independent learning. That is part of the challenge of a degree, proving that you can manage your own time.

Callamia Wed 25-Oct-17 23:30:40

I'm not sure that this can't be cleared up far more easily than it is.

Someone will know whether there is any penalty for missing a single seminar or not. If not, then think no more about it, but make sure the personal tutor is aware. If yes, then do consider putting in for mitigating circumstances, which WILL require evidence. To receive a penalty-waiver needs some sort of documentation, otherwise students take advantage.

Just find out first what the actual problem is about missing one seminar.

RavenclawRealist Wed 25-Oct-17 23:31:38

What kind of course is it? For example with nursing you have to do so many theory and so many practical hours over the course In order to graduate! It doesn't matter if it it is accessed class or not! If she is on a similar course it maybe that with sickness she is not on track to meet that criteria and the uni are trying to help her submit extenuating circumstances in order to help! It does sound like it has been badly explained though! She understands the course and its criteria best so all you can do is support her! If neither of you can see a reason why the uni need proof maybe speak to the student union or get advice about her rights?

SuperBeagle Wed 25-Oct-17 23:32:32

Neither are being unreasonable. The university's policy on academic consideration will be clear. But your girlfriend is under no obligation to apply for AC and does not have to provide anything, but she has to accept that she will be penalised for missing that class.

NikiBabe Wed 25-Oct-17 23:33:57

Both are BU.

Either your GF wants to a degree or she doesn't. A 30 hour full time job would seem incompatible with a full time job. She has health issues too.

A distant cousin died and tbh in most jobs you get a limited amount of days if you lose a parent. You'd get nothing for a second cousin.

I'd say her attendance or grades are poor and this is the last straw.

Either she wants to do the degree or she doesnt but something has to give.

crazycatgal Wed 25-Oct-17 23:34:02

It seems quite unreasonable that the university want a death certificate for missing seminars. Are they being sensitive and considerate about the bereavement?

My Grandma (who I was close to) died during my undergrad degree, I went into the office and explained that she had passed away. The first words out of the woman's mouth were 'have you got a death certificate.' A 'I'm sorry to hear that' would have been nice!

NikiBabe Wed 25-Oct-17 23:34:49

*incompatible with a full time degree.

SouthWindsWesterly Wed 25-Oct-17 23:38:36

flowers for your loss

Emotions will still be quite raw at the moment so it would be difficult to see it from all angles. Was your girlfriend absent for more than 7 days or for one seminar? Death certifications are only usually requested as evidence in extenuating circumstances for submitting work late or when assessed work such as exams are taken and their final totals could be compensated due to illness or their emotional state. If it was just the one seminar and nothing else then your GF’s tutor is being fastidious however might be within rights to request the cert. TBH if she thinks her work would be affected in any way then by asking for the very, the uni is basically covering her academically from all angles as this could also affect her and her grades later. This might seem insensitive to request of her but it means that your girlfriends academic work and attendance will be viewed with a gentler eye. You never know how her loss will affect her alongside with the stress of study. She might be okay, she might not but this gives her some leeway and breathing space if it all gets too much.

She doesn’t need to ask the family for a copy of the certificate. You can order a copy of the death certification from the government offices and therefore bypass upsetting family members. It would need to be submitted with an extenuating circumstances form/ self certification form. It does seem very clinical and cold to request this but I have usually found pastoral care within the universities I have worked for quite supportive.

Viviennemary Wed 25-Oct-17 23:43:40

At a guess I'd say the University is appearing to be heavy handed because your gf has a previous poor record of attendance and missing deadlines. If this isn't the case then they are being unreasonable. And you would be able to obtain a copy of the death certificate once it is filed. Don't know how long that takes. Sounds rather strange that the Uni should ask for that though.

NoCryLilSoftSoft Wed 25-Oct-17 23:44:40

Another one suspecting a back story of more absences than you know about. I have never heard of a university requesting a death certificate for a missed seminar. Missed deadlines requiring an extension? Yes, but not a seminar. Possibly they heard that it was a second cousin and thought they were having the wool pulled over their eyes.

Fluffywhitecloud Wed 25-Oct-17 23:48:19

Just to explain, her attendance and grades are fine. She's only about half way through the semester and hasn't had many graded assessments but this is the first registered class she has missed over first year and this year so far. It's a department she's not familiar with which is why I wasn't sure if it was completely standard.

Generally she has been able to handle her studies and work but it's hard on her. She's reviewing her options but she realises she's pushing herself too hard.

Thank you for all your well wishes, we're hoping to get her back to lectures from tomorrow (so 2 days absence, she'll have this one seminar and a lecture from today to catch up on)

Thanks again flowers

Ttbb Wed 25-Oct-17 23:51:21

It would depend on past absences. My university has a policy that you may not have more that two unexcused absences per module without facing disciplinary actions but excusing absences was at the tutor's discretion and they were expected to be reasonable so for example two of my tutors regularly allowed me to attend a different group on a different day, if I could not make a certain day one week all tutors would allow me to sit in on a different tutorial group, if I was sick all I had to was email (no doctors note was necessary) but I would imagine that would be different if I did it more often. Then they all let me take six months off after I had a baby no questions asked. From what I understand this is fairly standard and things like medical/death certificates will only be requested if attendance is important (e.g. Exams), the period of absence is prolonged or, the student is facing disciplinary actionz

LineysRun Wed 25-Oct-17 23:54:26

You need to look at the published attendance policy and academic consideration policy (or their equivalents) for the specific university to be sure.

archaicmother Wed 25-Oct-17 23:54:30

We wouldn't need a death certificate for a missed seminar, I work on an arts course where attendance is monitored centrally and only triggers a letter for a meeting if they have missed a significant amount. As someone above said, it may be something like a practical element of a nursing course which would need to be repeated.

If she need an extension on any work then we would ask for evidence but they I know at our place they accept an order of service in place of a death certificate.

Bugsylugs Wed 25-Oct-17 23:55:02

Sorry for her loss. Seems unusual unless that lecture is compulsory to do elective.
Not reasonable to see GP for a note if she does expect a charge.
Hope she is feeling better. Generally universities treat people like adults unless there is reason not to it seems a shame they may not be

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