Attendance and engagement

The Student Attendance and Engagement Policy was approved by the University Academic Quality and Standards Committee on 20 April 2017.

If you have any questions, please contact the Academic Registry.


1. The University of Stirling is committed to the provision of a consistently excellent student learning experience, and to supporting students to achieve success. Student engagement with all aspects of the learning experience (whether requiring physical attendance or not) is a key component of attaining the best possible academic outcomes and as such, the University expects that students will fully and proactively engage with their studies and the learning and teaching activities within their programme of study.

2. Clear expectations in relation to attendance/engagement are set out for students along with details of any potential impact of non-attendance/engagement. Some modules specify that attendance is a requirement, i.e. compulsory, for some aspects of the learning and teaching activities within it. However, this is not the case for all modules.

3. The University undertakes both informal and structured monitoring of student attendance and engagement with the aims of: determining whether or not students have met any compulsory attendance requirements of a module they are taking, and more broadly: considering if a student experiencing difficulty in relation to attendance / engagement might benefit from appropriate and timely support.

4. The University holds a licence with the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) branch of the Home Office under which the University is obliged to monitor the attendance and engagement of all students holding a Student visa. Therefore, structured monitoring of attendance is required by UKVI, throughout the duration of a student’s period of study at the University of Stirling. For Student visa research students, the attendance and engagement monitoring process continues through the stages of viva, discussions on minor amendments and resubmission of thesis as required.

5. The University may also be obliged to undertake structured monitoring of student attendance/ engagement in order to comply with funding body requirements or the requirements of professional bodies, which accredit some programmes of study.

6. Registered students of the University of Stirling studying at partner institutions are also required to abide by any policy relevant to attendance and engagement which the partner institution has in place.

7. The policy forms part of the University’s overall academic framework and as such should be read in conjunction with the relevant regulations.

Attendance and Engagement Expectations

8. The University expects that students will engage fully and proactively with their studies and the learning and teaching activities within their programme of study. On some modules, particular attendance requirements apply:

9. Compulsory attendance requires that students attend seminars/tutorials/lab session or other activities as designated “compulsory” in the module documentation, since attendance is fundamental and essential to meeting the learning outcomes of module.

10. Prescribed attendance, requires attendance at two thirds of the seminars/tutorials/lab sessions or other activities, as set out in the module documentation, as attendance is fundamental to meeting the learning outcomes of the module. The pedagogical basis for this will be set out in the module documentation.

Attendance and Engagement Responsibilities

11. The University’s faculties maintain an ongoing focus on students, student wellbeing and progress and are responsible for:

a) Establishing and communicating clear attendance and/or engagement requirements for students and designating any compulsory points of attendance as appropriate to the module and its learning outcomes.

b) Detailing all learning and teaching activities and attendance/engagement requirements within module documentation including:

  • Details of any compulsory classes and/or activities which are required for successful completion of the module;
  • Details of points of academic engagement within the module;
  • Any specific attendance or engagement requirements of a relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body;
  • The role of the Personal Tutor in respect to attendance and engagement;
  • Monitoring and reporting procedures for attendance and engagement;
  • Potential consequences of non-attendance/engagement
  • Standard arrangements, if available, for students who have absence disregarded (as outlined below) from compulsory classes, assessments etc e.g. a further opportunity to sit the assessment where practicable

c) Monitoring the attendance and engagement of students and maintaining and storing appropriate records for reference in the case of a student appeal or other such circumstance.

d) Taking timely action in response to any unsatisfactory or concerning attendance / engagement patterns. This response would include notifying the student of the consequences of non-attendance/engagement and offering help.

e) Contributing to the University’s responsibilities regarding Student visa students by being responsible for the consistent monitoring of the attendance / engagement of students, on Student visas.

f) Advising the Student Immigration team immediately, of any concerns regarding a Student visa student’s attendance / engagement that are to be acted upon by the faculty.

g) Working collaboratively with the Student Immigration team in relation to students on Student visas' attendance / engagement issues in order to facilitate an effective overall University response.

Faculties do not have an obligation to persist in attempting to make contact when a student does not respond to communications regarding attendance/engagement and offers of support.

12. Taught students are responsible for:

a) Consistently and proactively engaging with all aspects of their programme of study, and meeting any attendance and engagement requirements associated with each of their modules.

b) Ensuring they have an understanding of the structure and curriculum content of their modules and overall programme, and actively seeking advice if any aspect of this is unclear.

c) Advising their personal tutor of absence, which is likely/has, had a significant impact on their studies.

d) Responding to communications from members of staff of the University as requested.

e) Using the support systems in place to seek advice and guidance where this may be beneficial in relation to challenges or difficulties that may be experienced. The University’s support systems include personal tutors, advisers of studies and central support services.

f) Ensuring that academic approval is obtained for a period of time away from study during a dissertation period, and that only one such period is taken, for a maximum of 14 calendar days.

g) Ensuring they maintain up-to-date contact details via the Student Portal.

h) Informing the University of any absences.

i) Ensuring that they check their University of Stirling email account on a regular basis for any formal notifications/communications.

13. Research students are expected to:

a) Engage with their studies as outlined in the Code of Practice: Research Degrees

b) Use the Research Compass system to record a plan for their research project, support timely project progression and maintain a systematic record of progress;

c) Maintain regular contact with their supervisory team and agree an appropriate schedule of meetings and objectives;

d) Raise concerns or difficulties (academic, professional or personal) affecting their research with the supervisory team or Academic Registry via the Institute for Advanced Studies;

e) Record supervisory meeting dates in Research Compass;

f) Inform the University of absences.

14. Student studying on a Student visa are required to ALSO:

a) Comply with the points of engagement and administrative points of contact.

Student Absence

15. Where a student’s absence will have a significant impact on their studies, students must advise their faculty of this and provide suitable supporting documentation as per paragraph 18. “Significant impact” means:

a) the student will miss an assessment, a compulsory class or activity (e.g. required placement); or

b) the period of absence will last 7 calendar days or more (on one occasion or cumulatively across the semester); or

c) the student will (in this instance or cumulatively) miss more than one third of classes on a module which requires prescribed attendance; or

d) any absence of a student on a Student visa.

16. Where a student’s absence will have a significant impact, a medical certificate or other appropriate supporting documentation should normally be provided indicating the nature of the symptoms or circumstances that prevented the student from attending on the dates in question. It is the student’s responsibility to provide formal documentation to support the reasons for their absence. Note that medical certificates will not normal be available for periods of less than 7 calendar days and doctors may charge for some documentation.

17. The University may agree to disregard a student’s absence where a student has not met the attendance requirements of a module, on one of the grounds set out in paragraph 18. . However, such an absence can only be disregarded if the faculty decide that it is possible to make alternative arrangements for the student to meet the relevant learning outcome(s).

18. The decision to disregard a student absence is an academic decision based on the student’s ability to meet the learning outcomes of the module. Medical evidence and self-certification documentation is taken into account but does not guarantee that an absence will be disregarded.

19. Where a student’s absence has resulted in the student not meeting the attendance requirements of a module, a decision might be taken to disregard the absence in the following circumstances:

a) The student being unavoidably detained elsewhere for example:

  • in hospital

  • in court/detention

  • participating in an authorised national or international sporting competition or an authorised national sports training camps

  • formally representing the University.

 b) Medical grounds, for example:

  • confined to bed or otherwise unable to attend University

  • serious impairment to the student’s ability to participate in studies

  • as set out in the student’s ARUAA.

 c) Compassionate grounds:

  • death of a close person 1

  • sudden acute or serious illness or injury (including serious mental illness) of a close person.

 d) Other exceptional grounds or circumstances, considered on their own merits. Supporting documentation should be provided wherever possible.

20. Where a student’s absence has resulted in the student not meeting the attendance requirements of a module, the following will not normally be considered when determining whether to disregard the absence:

  • minor ailments such as sore throats, minor colds, headaches, hangovers;

  • long term illness or disability where special arrangements have already been made for assessments or where such arrangements could have been made if the University had been made aware at the appropriate time;

  • poor time management or misunderstanding of deadlines and dates;

  • personal or domestic events which could have been anticipated and planned otherwise such as moving house, routine childcare, holidays, paid employment;

  • death or illness of pets;

  • transport difficulties;

21. Where a student absence results in the student missing an assessment component other than an examination (see point 22.), a mark of zero will be awarded for the component on the basis of non-submission. No averaging or re-weighting of components will be undertaken at that stage. Subject to point 17 above, reassessment (if required and available) will be considered under the relevant assessment regulations and extenuating circumstances procedures.

22. Where a student absence will result in the student missing an examination students must notify the relevant Chief Examiner or Divisional Office as soon as possible. The process for the application for a deferred exam should be followed by the student.

1. The definition of a ‘close person’ is a family member (parent/guardian, spouse/partner, son/daughter, brother/sister, grandparent or grandchild) or someone living at the same address as the student.

Impact of Non-attendance / Engagement

23. If a student fails to attend and/or engage satisfactorily this can have a direct impact on their on-going academic progression and achievement. For example:

a) If a taught undergraduate or postgraduate student does not meet the “compulsory” attendance requirements of a module, the module mark received may be ‘X’ which constitutes an overall fail on the basis that the module requirements have not been met, unless attendance is waived in terms of this policy (Section 18 and 19);

b) If a taught undergraduate or postgraduate student does not meet the “prescribed” attendance requirements of a module, the module mark received may be capped at the minimum pass mark, unless absence is disregarded in terms of this policy (Section 18 and 19);

c) A student cannot be awarded a mark for an assessment or assessed activity if they have not attended the assessment or activity, and therefore a mark of zero should be assigned to the missed assessment component;

d) If a taught undergraduate, postgraduate or research student continually fails to engage satisfactorily and make progress, they will become at risk of temporary or permanent withdrawal from their programme of study;

e) If a taught undergraduate, postgraduate or research student on a student visa fails to engage with their studies, the University is required to report this to UKVI, which will normally result in  the University’s sponsorship of the student being withdrawn and the student’s visa being cancelled;

f) If a student is formally withdrawn from a programme of study the University may be required to inform the authority providing funding support for tuition fees and the student loans company.

Monitoring and Responding to Attendance and Engagement Concerns

24. The faculty that owns the programme on which the student is enrolled is responsible for monitoring the student’s attendance / engagement across all registered modules in line with this policy, within the constraints of systems available to them.

25. However each faculty with an involvement in a programme will be required to undertake monitoring at module level and to respond to any concerns regarding student attendance / engagement in line with this policy.

Responding to Unsatisfactory Attendance and Engagement

26. Faculties are required to support students who are experiencing difficulties with attendance and/or engagement. It is also important that students recognise and engage with the support that is available to them.

27. Students should take steps to engage in a discussion with a member of staff such as a personal tutor, module coordinator or programme director at an early stage regarding any issues or concerns about their attendance and engagement.

28.Where a student is not attending or engaging with their studies as required at module level, the faculty delivering the module should seek to discuss the situation with the student to establish if additional support is required. This should take place in advance, where possible, of any detrimental outcomes being applied to the student.

29. If a student’s unsatisfactory attendance and engagement persists, the faculty should attempt to maintain contact with the student and communicate the potential impact of this on their studies / student status. Where possible, this contact should include face-to-face discussion as well as electronic and other means of communication.

30. If the student is studying under a Student visa, in addition to undertaking a discussion with the student, the faculty should advise Academic Registry immediately by emailing Academic Registry will also then make contact with the student to reiterate the importance of attendance at specified points of attendance / engagement and the negative impact non-attendance can have on visa sponsorship.

31. On an on-going basis, continued non-attendance/engagement of students studying under a Student visa must be reported to Academic Registry through Failure to report this information is likely to have a negative impact on the University’s licence to sponsor international students.

32. Academic Registry provide administrative input to responses to unsatisfactory student attendance / engagement in line with specified University regulations, and external agency requirements. This input includes:

  •  The withdrawal of a student where the faculty have confirmed that a student is not engaging with their studies;

  • Referral of any faculty recommendations regarding a student’s status or progression to the Academic Panel for consideration as appropriate;

  • Informing UKVI where the University is unable to continue sponsorship of a Tier 4 visa sponsored student due to attendance / engagement issues;

  • Informing the Student Loans Company and the Student Awards Agency for Scotland of any change of student status;

  • In the case of postgraduate research students, informing the relevant funding council of any changes to a student’s status.

Right of appeal

33. All students have the right to request a review of any decision taken on their progression, assessment, award or status as student under the academic appeal policy.