Student Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions and their answers. If you have a question that is not listed below, then please contact a member of the Student Attendance Team. Please check this page regularly as it will be updated throughout the coming year in response to developing guidelines and regulations.

 

Information for all students regarding coronavirus

If you have any questions or concerns regarding coronavirus and how it may affect your studies, please refer to the Preparing for 2020 page that is being regularly updated for more information.

General Questions

 

Who are you and what do you do?

The College of Arts and Law (CAL) Student Attendance Team exists to record, track and monitor student attendance within the College to support students to maximise their attendance and engagement so that they can acieve their full academic potential. The team is based in the Law Building. You can find the members of the team, along with all of our contact details, at the bottom of the homepage. This includes details for School-specific enquiries.

There are four main facets to what we do as a team:

  • Attendance Recording
    • Collecting, tracking and inputting registers from the Schools in CAL
    • Following up possible missing registers with academic colleagues
  • Attendance Monitoring
    • Using registers to evidence the academic engagement of International Students
    • Reviewing Contact Point data to identify Internatioal Students who have missed Contact Points by not engaging
  • Reasonable Diligence
    • Reviewing attendance rates for all students in the College
    • Sending Attendance Support Advisoriy emails to students with low attendance
    • Running the Making the Most of Your Studies event alongside Wellbeing and Academic colleagues
    • Administering the Reasonable Diligence process in consultation with Wellbeing and Academic colleagues
  • Absence Reporting
    • Processing Declarations of Absence submitted by students

Can I come to see you?

We would encourage students to contact the CAL Student Attendance Team via email or telephone in the first instance. Contact details for the team, including those for School-specific enquiries can be found at the bottom of the homepage.

Students are also encouraged to contact their Personal Academic Tutor with any specific concerns or queries about their academic studies such as difficulties with assessments or other programme content. Alternatively, we encourage students to contact the Wellbeing Officers for their School with any concerns or queries about attendance relating to wellbeing such as: personal issues impacting attendance, difficulties caused by a disability, or to apply for extenuating circumstances.

I cannot find the rooms my teaching sessions are held in, what should I do?

A map of the University of Birmingham campus and a link to download the campus map app can be found here.

 

Absences

I am going to be away from my studies for a few days, who should I tell?

You should fill out a Declaration of Absence form, and should also contact your lecturers or seminar leaders if you are going to be missing any of their teaching sessions.

I am going to be away from my studies for a few weeks or more, who should I tell?

If you are going to be away from your studies for an extended period then you should talk to your School's Wellbeing Officer, who will discuss with you the potential impact this may have on your studies.

I am an International Student and I need to leave the country, who should I tell?

If you need to leave the country during term time, you must submit an Authorised Absence form to the relevant e-mail address. This process can take up to ten working days to complete, so please submit the form as soon as you have all the details you need to complete it. Further information, including up-to-date information about Authorised Absences due to Covid-19, and a link to the form can be found on the Authorised Absence for International Students page.

You should also notify your Personal Academic Tutor that you will be out of the country.

If you are leaving the country during vacation times (i.e. leaving after the 5pm on the final day of term and returning before the first day of the next term), then you do not need to submit an Authorised Absence.

 

Attendance Recording

I wish to attend a different seminar to the one that I am registered on to. How can I do so?

If you wish to attend a different seminar, please get in touch with your Personal Academic Tutor and the Wellbeing Team, who will be able to contact the Timetabling Team to change your registered seminar. Please note that this is not a service and permission may not be granted to change your seminar.

Please DO NOT add your name to a register on which your name does not appear. Doing so will result in your attendance not being recorded for that seminar as you are not registered onto that teaching session.

I have attended a different seminar to the one that I am registered on to. What should I do?

Please make sure you attend the teaching sessions that are on your timetable as these are the ones you are registered onto and therefore will be the ones that you will be marked either present or absent from.

If you must attend an alternative seminar, please notify your lecturer or seminar leader to let them know and to ask them to contact us regarding your attendance at the class. We cannot guarantee that your attendance for the session will be recorded, however.

Please DO NOT add your name to a register on which your name does not appear. Doing so will result in your attendance not being recorded for that seminar as you are not registered onto that teaching session.

My lecturer/seminar leader allows me to attendance alternate sessions.

Due to health and safety considerations students are not authorised to attend alternative teaching sessions to those displayed on their online personalised timetable via my.bham even if the session’s leader has agreed that they can do so.  As such students who do attend alternative sessions will be marked as absent at the session they should have attended and will not be marked present at the session they have attended instead.

I was unable to sign the register during my lecture/seminar. What should I do?

Unfortunately, we cannot retroactively change your attendance record if you did not sign the register. If you are unable to sign the register or notice that a register has not been taken for your lecture or seminar, please alert the lecturer or seminar leader to this fact and ask them to hand out a register so that you may sign your name.

It is vital that you sign the register for every class that you attend so that we can get an accurate record of your attendance.

How can I view my attendance data?

You may view your attendance data on the my.learning tab of the my.bham portal, under 'View Absence Details'. If you are unable to do so, please contact us on calsat@contacts.bham.ac.uk to let us know.

What do I do if I have a timetable clash?

If you have a timetable clash meaning you are unable to attend a teaching session, please contact the Taught Programme Administration Team for your School (one member of that team will be the person you hand assessments into in your School's Reception or Office) who will be able to look into resolving the clash and therefore ensure that you do not have to miss teaching sessions.

 

Attendance Monitoring for International Students

Why is my attendance being monitored?

The College of Arts and Law and International Students

The College of Arts and Law (CAL) Student Attendance Team is responsible for evidencing academic engagement for students with a Tier 4 visa.

We are responsible for recording and monitoring attendance at scheduled teaching, evidencing coursework submissions and processing Authorised Absences for International Students.

Introduction to Tier 4

The University of Birmingham has over 10,000 overseas students, the majority of whom are studying here on a Tier 4 visa. In order for an International Student (non-EEA/EU citizens) to study here in the UK they will require an appropriate visa to allow them to enter the UK, reside in the UK, and study here for the duration of their proposed course.

The UK operates a points-based immigration system and the cornerstone to this system is the principle of sponsorship. Tier 4 is one of the 5 points-based immigration routes into the UK. The majority of our students come to the UK on a Tier 4 student visa which allows then to study on a full-time basis here at the University of Birmingham.

This is subject to certain conditions, as well as the University of Birmingham formally sponsoring their studies. For the purposes of Tier 4 this means that the University takes responsibility for their time in the UK as our Tier 4 student.

As part of its sponsorship obligations regular checks are carried out to ensure that the College is meeting its obligations under UK law. The consequences of not meeting these responsibilities could mean the university’s ability to sponsor Tier 4 students is revoked with severe consequences for the university’s finances and reputation.

Our Sponsorship Duties

As a Tier 4 Sponsor we have multiple duties to maintain, these can be divided into two main categories: reporting duties and record keeping duties.

The reporting duties require us to report certain information about Tier 4 students to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) including:

  • where a student has had a change in circumstances. These include when they change course, take a leave of absence, withdraw from their studies, or complete their studies early.
  • where we believe a Tier 4 student is breaching the conditions of their visa, for example, working over the permitted allowance, or is not a genuine student.
  • where a student does not arrive and begin their course as expected.

Collectively as a university, all staff should be aware of and follow policies and procedures agreed by the University and their Colleges. This ensures that the University remains compliant with our duties as a Tier 4 Sponsor at all times.

The record keeping duties require us to keep records of your attendance across a set number of Contact Points throughout the academic year to evidence to the Home Office and UKVI that you are engaging in your studies as per your visa requirements. Forms of evidence of engagement include:

  • Attendance at any scheduled teaching session
  • Coursework submissions
  • Exam attendance
  • Dissertation Supervision Meetings

How am I being monitored?

Student attendance is monitored primarily through registers you will sign at your teaching sessions, the submission of coursework, dissertations, or exams, and one-to-one meetings with Academic Staff.

For more information on the reasons behind attendance monitoring, please visit the Student Attendance Team's Handbook page.

How does the University protect my data?

For more information on how the University protects your data, please see the University's Data Protection policy.

As a postgraduate International Student, how can I evidence my academic engagement to meet my visa requirements when I'm not being taught anything?

After the conclusion of your scheuled teaching, there are a number of other forms of evidence that can be used to demonstrate your ongoing academic engagement. The most common are:

  • Coursework submissions
  • Exam Attendance
  • Dissertation Supervision Meetings

If you are concerned that you will not be able to evidence yor ongoing academic engagement through any of the above, then you should contact the CAL Student Attendance Team (calsat@contacts.bham.ac.uk) to discuss other options available to you.

I am completing my dissertation in my home country/away from campus. What should I do?

If you need to continue work on your dissertation away from campus then you should usually submit an Authorised Absence application.

An exception to this is if you are studying on a twenty-four (24) month full-time Masters programme in which case you do not need to submit an authorised absence application in the vacation period between your first and second year.

When completing the authorised absence online request form you must give ‘Dissertation – writing up in home country’ as the reason. Although you are not required to provide evidence when using this reason, academic engagement with your supervisor must continue during the period of absence.

As part of your application your dissertation arrangements will need to be confirmed and so you should discuss and agree these arrangements with your supervisor before completing your application.

The College’s Student Attendance Team will contact your supervisor to inform them that you are a Tier 4 student and will be completing your dissertation in your home country over the summer period via the Authorised Absence process and that they will need to provide evidence of your academic engagement with them where possible.

Reasonable Diligence

What if my attendance doesn’t increase?

The purpose of the Reasonable Diligence is to support students to engage as effectively as possible with their studies and to ensure they attain their full academic potential. If your attendance rate has indicated that you may be experiencing difficulties with this it will be continually reviewed to best support you. Students who are provided with an action plan should endeavour to attend all of their teaching, to submit Declarations of Absence where absence is unavoidable and to meet any other requirements of their action plan.

However, the most important thing that you can do is to keep communicating with your Wellbeing Officer, Personal Academic Tutor and the CAL Student Attendance Team; if your attendance continues to decrease without a satisfactory explanation then you may be removed from your programme of study so it is important that we are aware of difficulties that you are experiencing and able to best support you to address them.

Will low attendance affect my ability to graduate?

The College reviews attendance rates at given points throughout the academic year, and will reach out to students who are not meeting the required standards of attendance.

You must make every effort to attend as many of your scheduled teaching sessions where possible and to inform the Student Attendance Team and your seminar leader or lecturer of any unavoidable absences as soon as possible.

Your attendance will not affect your ability to graduate unless you are progressed significantly through the Reasonable Diligence process. You will be informed of this process, the support available to you, and the potential consequences, throughout the process.

I have been invited to attend a Making the Most of Your Studies Session. What should I do?

If you have been formally invited to a Making the Most of Your Studies as a part of Reasonable Diligence procedures then you should make every effort to attend the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to provide support to students whose attendance gives cause for concern and to offer an opportunity to access the most appropriate services that the University provides.

If you cannot attend on the date of the event itself or would prefer a one to one meeting instead of attending Making the Most of Your Studies you should contact the CAL Student Attendance Team (calsat@contacts.bham.ac.uk) and a one-to-one meeting will be arranged for you as soon as possible. Please be aware that you must do this with 5 working days of receiving the invitation. If you otherwise fail to attend Making the Most of Your Studies you may be progressed immediately to the next Stage of Reasonable Diligence.

I received an email saying I have not been attending, but I have! What do I do?

The purpose of the Reasonable Diligence is to support students to engage as effectively as possible with their studies and to ensure they attain their full academic potential. If your attendance rate has indicated that you may be experiencing difficulties with this it will be continually reviewed to best support you. Students who are provided with an action plan should endeavour to attend all of their teaching, to submit Declarations of Absence where absence is unavoidable and to meet any other requirements of their action plan.

However, the most important thing that you can do is to keep communicating with your Wellbeing Officer, Personal Academic Tutor and the CAL Student Attendance Team; if your attendance continues to decrease without a satisfactory explanation then you may be removed from your programme of study so it is important that we are aware of difficulties that you are experiencing and able to best support you to address them.  

 

Wellbeing

I am having problems outside of University, who can I talk to?

Your School's Wellbeing Officer will be able to guide you through personal issues by offering direct support or pointing you in the direction of other services.

You can find more information on this on the CAL Wellbeing Canvas pages.

I am finding it hard to attend due to personal reasons, who can I talk to?

Your School's Wellbeing Officer will be able to guide you through personal issues by offering direct support or pointing you in the direction of other services. They will also be able to make recommendations that may help you to improve your attendance or find alternative solutions.

You can find more information on this on the CAL Wellbeing Canvas pages.

I am having difficulties due to a disability, who can I talk to?

Your School's Wellbeing Officer will be able to discuss your disability with you, and offer direct support or point you in the direction of other services.

You can find more information on this on the CAL Wellbeing Canvas pages.

I wish to apply for extenuating circumstances or an extension. What should I do?

If you would like to apply for extenuating circumstances, please contact the Wellbeing Officer within your School. There is no need to share this information with the Student Attendance Team as Wellbeing will prevent extenuating circumstances from impacting on your attendance or the Reasonable Diligence process where appropriate.

You can find more information on this on the CAL Wellbeing Canvas pages.

International Students

I need to leave the country, who should I tell?

If you need to leave the country during term time, you must submit an Authorised Absence form to the relevant e-mail address. This process can take up to ten working days to complete, so please submit the form as soon as you have all the details you need to complete it. Further information, including up-to-date information about Authorised Absences due to Covid-19, and a link to the form can be found on Registry's Authorised Absence page.

You should also notify your Personal Academic Tutor that you will be out of the country.

If you are leaving the country during vacation times (i.e. leaving after the 5pm on the final day of term and returning before the first day of the next term), then you do not need to submit an Authorised Absence.

I am having visa issues, who can help me?

If you are experiencing difficulties with your visa, please contact the International Student Team (IST).

I am having language difficulties, who can help me?

If you are experiencing language difficulties, please contact the International Student Team (IST).

 

Colleges

Professional Services