Whole Lotta Love | Issue 9

Whole Lotta Love | Issue 9

The Minefield of Special Consideration

To get a look-in for special consideration due to ill health or an accident that prevents you sitting an exam or impairs your exam performance, you need to have a “severe medical condition...supported by medical evidence.” So, we’re not talking snivels or general exam jitters.

Say you are really sick. You need to get a Health Declaration (HD) for Special Consideration Applications (available via the Exams webpage) completed by a medical professional.  Note Part B, where there are three boxes: “mild impairment”, “moderate impairment” and “serious impairment”. You will only be given special consideration if the box marked “serious impairment” is ticked by a health professional.

This is where it gets tricky. Last year, changes to the process were introduced on a “trial” basis. The results of the trial were to be re-evaluated at the end of the examination period, but they have not yet made the light of day as far as we’re aware.

The doctor you consulted used to apply their professional clinical judgement to decide how impaired you were and tick the corresponding box on the HD, which you then submitted with your special consideration request.

At Student Health now, the doctor you see is not allowed to tick the box. Instead, the HD goes to a panel of doctors (who haven’t seen you in a clinical setting). They make a collective decision about your level of impairment, tick the box they deem appropriate and spirit the form to the Examinations office. You remain blissfully ignorant of what they’ve ticked until you get a response to your special consideration request.

Oh, and you incur an extra $10 charge for the privilege of having a panel confer over your HD. This only happens at Student Health. If you visit an external GP or hospital, they can judge the severity of your impairment within the clinical setting and tick the appropriate box. So if you want someone who has actually seen you to make a call about your level of impairment, you can visit another medical practice. 

Bear in mind that decisions about levels of impairment will always be subjective. If you’re at Dunedin Public A&E on a Friday night, you could be seriously impaired but compared with the person who’s just been air-lifted in with life-threatening injuries, your illness may be deemed “moderate”. The long and short of it is, your illness needs to have seriously affected your performance or attendance at an exam. Without a tick in the “severe” box, you haven’t got a hope.

You have the right to appeal any decision made. Drop into 5 Ethel Benjamin if you’d like some help with that. However, let’s hope you’re fit, healthy and well (on all dimensions) and breeze through your exams! 

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2015.
Posted 2:34pm Sunday 26th April 2015 by Student Support.