If you are experiencing a medium-term or long-term personal difficulty (which is not related to disability), a temporary learning agreement (TLA) could help you manage your learning, so that you can successfully complete your level or stage of study within your current academic year.

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Temporary learning agreements: headline information

If you are affected by personal difficulties for more than 14 days and up to (at most) the end of your current academic year, you might benefit from a TLA. Your personal academic tutor (PAT) can explore this with you. Please note: a TLA is not a permanent arrangement, and it cannot offer reasonable adjustments or special arrangements.

You will need to meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for a TLA:

  • Your personal difficulty meets one (or more) of the University’s acceptable reasons
  • You can provide appropriate professional evidence which demonstrates your difficulties and that they are likely to last for the medium-term or long-term
  • You have raised the issue with your PAT early enough in the academic year that a TLA can make a difference

TLAs are available to all students on undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses, including students at partner institutions. However, they are not for students on research courses; if you are on a research course, you should contact graduatecollege@canterbury.ac.uk for information about support options.

If you are on a Student Route Visa, a TLA would need to be in line with your visa and the University’s UKVI Sponsored Students: Attendance and Engagement Policy and Procedure. If you have any questions about this, please contact the Compliance Team.

As a TLA is an agreement between you and the University - you must be fully involved in its development and all subsequent reviews. If you are unable to engage in these TLA discussions (or your studies in general), a TLA is not right for you, and taking a break (or 'interrupting') is likely to be a better option if it is early enough in the academic year for you to do so.

Please be aware that any delay in completing an assessment or reassessment might impact when you receive your results for the relevant module/level. This could:

  • Affect your ability to start your next year of study on time, potentially holding up the release of your student finance
  • Delay the completion of your studies, if you are in your final year. This might mean your graduation will be at a later date
  • Impact upon your visa obligations, if you are on a Student Route Visa. If this occurs close to the end of your course, it could also affect your application to the Graduate Route

Alternatives to TLAs

Temporary learning agreements are one of several ways that the University supports students who are unable to submit work on time or attend their exams because of events which are beyond their control.

Before you begin to discuss a TLA with your PAT, check that one of the following isn't more suited to your needs:

  • The Exceptional Circumstances Procedure is designed for students who are impacted by events which are unexpected, outside their control and short-term in nature (i.e. lasting one to two weeks). If you meet the criteria, you may be able to request a coursework extension of seven or 14 calendar days or a further chance to take an exam or time-constrained assessment. Find out more
  • A learning or placement support plan (LSP) is a bespoke plan for any student with a recognised disability and/or long term or serious medical or psychological condition. LSPs are in place for the duration of your studies and reviewed regularly, so you’re fully supported to succeed. Find out more about learning or placement support plans
  • You could interrupt your studies (via the changes to study process) for more than a single term and potentially up to an entire academic year (if it's early enough in the academic year for you to do so). During the period you are on interruption, you will not be expected to study or complete any assessments, and some of your entitlements may change, e.g. you won’t be eligible for bursaries or tuition loans. However, you will still be a registered student with access to key information and support. Find out more about interrupting

What support can a TLA offer you?

A TLA will provide you with additional academic support by your Course Team to help you successfully complete your learning and assessments in the current academic year. 

The support can take a variety of forms:

  • Academic support: including tutorial support and advice about how to access academic writing skill guidance
  • Extensions to academic coursework or postponement of exams/time-constrained assessments: If you need it, a TLA can agree extensions or postponement of deadlines/dates for (re)assessment that is due to be submitted/completed from the date your TLA is developed up to the end date of your TLA. Please note:
    • TLAs cannot agree any changes to the arrangements or requirements for placements, or to practice-based assessments
    • Not all assessment deadlines can be extended or postponed (for example group work)
    • A TLA cannot include assessments that occurred before the TLA is developed
    • If an extension or postponed date is agreed through your TLA, this will be a firm deadline; if you do not meet it, you will be subject to late penalties as normal
    • Further extensions/postponement of TLA deadlines/dates will only be agreed in rare circumstances
  • Deferral of assessments: A TLA is designed to help you complete all your (re)assessments by the time the Module is considered by a Board of Examiners. In rare cases (where you meet specific criteria), your Course Director may agree to recommend to the Board that a (re)assessment is deferred to the next formal assessment period for your course, after that Board. A TLA cannot defer a first assessment into the next academic year and it cannot change a reassessment into a first assessment
  • Other types of support: Your PAT will discuss with you other support you might wish to obtain in addition to your TLA, either from the Student Wellbeing Service or another department within the University as appropriate to your circumstances

Extensions versus deferrals

An extension refers to an academic coursework deadline that has been extended to a later date in the same Semester/Trimester. The assessment is submitted and marked in time to be considered at the relevant Module Board; the extended date cannot be beyond the relevant Board date. 

A deferral refers to the postponement of an examination or time-constrained assessment to the next designated assessment period after the relevant Module Board (and in line with the Course’s academic calendar).

What can a TLA not do for you?

A temporary learning agreement is unable to do any of the following:

  • Change your attendance/engagement requirements or agree distance learning; you will still be expected to attend teaching and engage with all your module assessments
  • Include retrospective (re)assessment deadlines i.e. any deadline that was before the point your TLA was developed
  • Offer further attempts for (re)assessments you have already completed/attempted
  • Extend the duration of an exam or time-constrained assessment
  • Change the learning outcomes you must achieve through an assessment
  • Change the type (mode) of assessment you are expected to complete for the module, unless an alternative exists in the approved course validation
  • Agree reasonable adjustments or special arrangements for assessments
  • Make adjustments to professional placements or practice requirements, or assessments
  • Extend your maximum period of registration on a course or level of study.
  • Change a reassessment (capped) to a first assessment (uncapped)
  • Make adjustments to any requirements associated with non-academic elements of an Apprenticeship course
  • Change your module(s) or course/pathway or change your mode of study; for this, you will need to subject a changes to study request via MyRecord

TLA terms and conditions

You TLA needs to be developed in consultation with your PAT. This will include things like: 

  • The TLA start and end date
  • Any extensions/postponements to assessment deadlines/dates, from that point until the end of the TLA
  • Any deadlines/dates which cannot be moved, and how you will be supported in meeting the scheduled deadline/date
  • The first review date for your TLA
  • What support the Course Team can offer, and what support you are recommended to access from other areas of the University (e.g. Wellbeing Support and advice or further academic support from the Learning Skills Hub)
  • If you are on a Student Route Visa, a TLA would need to be in line with your visa and the University’s UKVI Sponsored Students: Attendance and Engagement Policy and Procedure. If you have any questions about this, please contact the Compliance Team

Supporting evidence

You will also need to provide evidence that supports the reason for your TLA. The type of evidence is dependent on your situation, and could include statements by the University's Student Wellbeing Services or Chaplaincy staff, employers, external bodies such as registered Charities or the Citizens' Advice Bureau, community or faith leaders. It also needs to:

  • Be in writing
  • Name you, or if your evidence is about someone else, you will need to clarify their relationship to you and follow the guidance in the FAQ about using someone else’s data at the end of this page
  • Be recent enough to clearly apply to the current academic year and to the point in time where you are asking for the TLA
  • Provide enough information to demonstrate the difficulty you are experiencing and that it is likely to last for a medium- or long-term period
  • Be from a professional source (dated, and on headed paper if appropriate)

It cannot be:

  • Only a statement from a parent, partner or friend
  • Verbal or anecdotal
  • Dated substantially prior to your current academic year
  • Solely in the form of newspaper articles, social media postings, appointment cards (where the reason for the visit is not specified), photocopies (or scanned copies) of over-the-counter medications or photographs of a personal nature

If you have already submitted evidence to the University (for another reason) and wish to use it in support of your TLA, you will need to confirm this to your PAT and provide them with details of the evidence you want included, why you feel it’s relevant and who has it. We cannot seek evidence from a person or organisation outside the university on your behalf.

Once you and your PAT have developed the draft TLA, your Course Director will review the draft and confirm if they are happy to approve it.  

Your commitment once a TLA has been agreed

If your Course Director agrees to the draft TLA, your PAT will send you a final version of the TLA and ask you to confirm your acceptance of it, and your responsibilities towards it, within seven working days. If you do not confirm you accept the TLA within seven working days, it cannot be implemented.

For your TLA to be effective, it is important you make a commitment to meet any revised deadlines, take up additional support offered or recommended, and engage with review meetings. It is important for your academic success to adhere to the commitments you have agreed in the TLA and ensure that you:

  • Understand the TLA process and your responsibilities in it. Ask your PAT if you are unsure about anything
  • Ensure you understand the implications of extensions, postponed (and in rare cases, deferral) of assessment on the timing of your academic results, progression and/or award, funding and (where relevant) visa requirements
  • Meet the revised deadlines agreed in your TLA
  • Engage with review discussions about your TLA, as requested by your PAT and set out in your TLA form
  • Respond in a timely fashion to communications from your PAT/Course Director
  • Tell your PAT/Course Director (at the earliest opportunity) if you feel you might need additional support or changes to your agreed TLA deadlines/arrangements
  • Tell your PAT/Course Director if your circumstances change substantially (for better or worse) so they can discuss with you if a TLA is still the best support route for you

If you do not meet the above expectations, your Course Team may determine that your TLA should be terminated.

Ending a TLA

When you are close to the agreed end date for your TLA, you will be asked to attend a review with your PAT to discuss the arrangements for closing down your TLA.

At the point your TLA end date is reached, your PAT will confirm it has finished, and notify the relevant Course Staff. If you have remaining modules and (re)assessments to complete for your current academic year after the TLA has ended, you will be expected to submit/attempt those assessments on the same dates as all other students on the module.

If, during your TLA period, you feel:

  • You no longer need the extra support as your circumstances have changed/improved (or because you have decided to interrupt instead), you must contact your PAT to discuss this. Your PAT will then agree with you the date the TLA will end and explain any implications for assessment due after that date. They will then notify the relevant Course Staff
  • Your circumstances are continuing and you feel the TLA end date you previously agreed may need to be extended to a later point in your current academic year, you must contact your PAT as soon as possible. Your PAT will discuss this request with you, and where appropriate will ask the Course Director to consider your request. Please note: Extensions to TLA end dates will only be agreed where there is good reason to do so, and the extension does not go beyond the end of your current academic year. Requests received after the TLA end date has passed cannot be considered

If you are not meeting your responsibilities in relation to engagement with TLA deadlines and review discussions, your PAT will contact you to discuss why this is the case, and how best to enable you to re-engage. It is important you respond to your PAT and engage with them in this discussion. If you do not, your PAT will have to notify your Course Director of this and the Course Director will decide whether to refer you into another University procedure (where relevant), or to the Faculty Panel for a decision on whether to terminate your TLA early.

Request a review of a TLA decision

If you have questions or concerns about a decision taken about a TLA, you should begin by discussing this with your PAT or Course Director to clarify why the decision was taken.

If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can request a review of one of the following decisions:

  • The Course Director (or Faculty Panel) have not agreed your draft TLA
  • The Course Director has rejected the request to extend the end date of your TLA
  • The PAT has decline your request for a further extension/postponement of an assessment in your TLA
  • The Course Director has rejected the request for a TLA deferral recommendation to the Board of Examiners
  • The Faculty Panel have terminated your TLA

If you are making a TLA review request, it is important to know the review will only consider cases that meet one of the following reasons:

  • There is evidence which demonstrates the decision was not undertaken in line with the TLA Procedure
  • There is new evidence available which could not reasonably have been provided at the time of the decision, and which may have had a material impact on the decision reached

You will need to submit a TLA Review Request form to exceptionalcircumstances@canterbury.ac.uk, with your statement and accompanying evidence, no later than ten working days after the date you were notified of the TLA decision you are asking to be reviewed.

If you would like to seek support completing and submitting your TLA Review Request, you can contact the CCSU Advice Centre (advice@ccsu.co.uk).

The full details of the TLA Review process, and requirements on you and the University, can be found in Section 14 of the TLA Procedures.

If your concern is about another aspect of your TLA experience, you should raise this through the Student Complaint Procedure.

If your concern is about a Board of Examiners decision not to agree a TLA deferral, or about an assessment not submitted / attempted or already agreed by a Board of Examiners before your TLA was developed, you should raise this through the Academic Appeal Procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

A TLA is not something you request by completing and submitting a form to your Course Team (as you would for exceptional circumstances). A TLA is developed in discussion with your personal academic tutor (PAT), who will work with you to draft the TLA document, ahead of its review by your Course Director.

If you think you might need a TLA, you should start by contacting your PAT to ask for a discussion about your difficulties. They will discuss with you the best support options for your situation, and if they agree a TLA is the right option for you, they will explain how the agreement will be developed.

If you have a (re)assessment deadline coming up and you have not yet been able to speak with your PAT about a TLA, you can submit an exceptional circumstances request in the first instance to obtain a short extension (if you meet the criteria) whilst you wait to speak with your PAT.

Yes. A TLA can be put in place in this instance, but it is important to note that the TLA cannot change a reassessment (capped) into a deferred first attempt (uncapped).

If you are asking for a TLA because of a difficulty someone close to you is experiencing and you intend to provide evidence that belongs to that person, you must ensure you have their permission to share their personal data (e.g. medical letters or legal documents) with the University as part of the TLA process. These requirements apply to any living individual over the age of 18. They do not apply to documentation relating to deceased individuals.

Providing permission for a living individual’s evidence to be supplied to the University as part of the TLA process is necessary to ensure you, and the University, are meeting the legal General Data Protection Requirements. You will need to supply a form with your evidence, for if the form is not provided then the University cannot consider that person’s evidence.

If you are the person’s legal guardian, for example their parent, you will not need to provide their permission, but you will need to confirm to your PAT that you hold legal guardian status.

If you are concerned about asking the person to sign the permission form, or they are unable to do so, you should consider providing any evidence you have which relates to you only. If you are unsure what to provide you can discuss this with your PAT.

No. If you have already missed a deadline before your TLA is developed this cannot be covered by the TLA. That assessment will be classed as a non-submission; if you wish to appeal that decision, once you get your agreed results for the module from the Module Board you will need to submit an Academic Appeal. 

If you have missed a deadline/date set in your TLA and you did not contact your PAT before the deadline/date to ask for a further extension/postponement, you cannot have an extension or postponement for that work.

An extension only applies to coursework. It is where your deadline is moved to later in the Semester/Trimester your module is taught in, and the work is submitted, marked and presented to the relevant Module Board of Examiners. An extension cannot go beyond the Module Board date.

All coursework extensions must be agreed by your PAT (and Course Director) and should be reasonable and proportionate.

Requests to further extend or postpone a deadline/date already extended by the TLA are expected to be rare. If you want to request this you must contact your PAT before the deadline/date. If you make the request after the deadline/date, your PAT will not be able to consider the request and standard late penalties will apply to your assessment.

If you make the request before your deadline/date your PAT will only be able to agree to another extension/postponement if:

  • It is not reasonably possible for you to submit/attend on your TLA deadline/date.
  • The reason for the further extension/postponement meets the acceptable criteria.
  • There is sufficient time before the Board to extend a coursework deadline further, or for exams/ time-constrained assessments there is still an assessment point in the current academic year to which it can be postponed.  

A deferral is the postponement of an assessment (normally an examination or time-constrained assessment) to the next designated assessment period for your course after the relevant Module Board of Examiners.

In rare cases, your Course Director may agree to recommend a deferral to the Board on the basis of your TLA (for coursework it is expected these decisions will be very rare). They will only do this if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have demonstrated a recent worsening or change to your circumstances or an additional issue (unrelated to your original TLA reason) has (or is likely) prevented you from completing the assessment(s) in question by your current TLA date
  • You could not reasonably be expected to complete the assessment(s) ahead of the Board even with academic support and extended/postponed dates via your TLA
  • You have met your TLA responsibilities in relation to timely, regular contact with the PAT and engagement with TLA deadlines/dates, as far as possible
  • You have engaged sufficiently with your teaching and learning for the Module, and assessment to be successful were a deferral to be granted

Your Course Director may agree to recommend a deferral to the Board, and the Board will then take the final decision about whether you can be offered this. They will make the decision based on the Regulations for Taught Awards, and you will be notified of their decision via MyRecord.

It is important to be aware that a TLA cannot result in assessment being deferred beyond the end of the academic year in which you studied the module (unless you are eligible for Trail & Progress, or it is a Trimester 3 module).

Not unless you:

  1. Can otherwise Trail & Progress (and your course permits this option); or
  2. Are studying a course on a Trimester academic calendar and the first attempt you are requesting to delay is for a Trimester 3 module

Where you do not fall into one of the above categories, any TLA deferral must be completed in the same academic year you studied the module. It cannot be deferred into the next academic year. When a deferral is agreed, you will be expected to take that attempt in the next designated assessment period for your course in the year you are studying the module.

If you have a TLA in place you could make an Impaired Performance Exceptional Circumstance request if you believe an additional short-term issue, unrelated to your TLA reason(s) impacted your performance in an exam or time-constrained assessment.

You cannot however us the Exceptional Circumstance to further extend or postpone an assessment already extended/postponed through your TLA. If you are worried you cannot meet a TLA deadline then you should contact your PAT to discuss this, before your TLA deadline.

Your PAT will consider a request for a further extension of a TLA deadline, but will only agree to this if you meet the criteria to do so. If they do not agree, the you will need to submit/attempt your assessment on the currently agreed date.

If you have a LSP already in place, you would not normally need a TLA as well. If you feel you need additional support to that already agreed in your LSP, you should contact Student Wellbeing Services to discuss this, to request a review of your LSP.

In some cases, where a student is experiencing an additional medium-term issue unrelated to their LSP condition, the Course Director and the relevant Student Wellbeing Team may agree it is appropriate for the student to have a TLA for a specific period of time, in addition to their LSP. This decision will however depend on whether a TLA is felt to be an appropriate form of additional support, and will be take on a case-by-case basis.

No. A TLA can only be used if you are actively studying in the current academic year.

If you have a TLA and decide to go on interruption then your TLA will end. When you return to study, if you feel you may need a TLA in that academic year, you will need to discuss this with your PAT when you return, and the TLA development and agreement process would have to be completed at that point.