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How Special Extensions of Time Can #ProtectYourGPA

Blog by Sianna Madigan | UNE Life Student Engagement Coordinator 

Studying for a tertiary qualification is no mean feat, and for many, it is a venture which spans years. Bearing this in mind, it is completely normal to experience periods of disruption or hardship throughout the course of study – seasoned students will tell you it can’t always be smooth sailing! Although life may have its ups and downs your grades don’t necessarily need to follow suit as there are many ways to safeguard them. One golden piece of advice to remember is that if you find yourself in a tricky situation during assessment season,  there are Special Assessment options available to you. One of those options is a Special Extensions of Time (SET). So here’s a rundown of what to know and expect if you find yourself struggling to get your assessment in on time.

So, what exactly is a Special Extension of Time (SET)?

A Special Extension of Time, otherwise known as SET, is substantial time granted to you to complete assessments, without penalty and beyond your original due date. With a SET you can request an extension up to a whole trimester and one year for Pracs. The UNE website states that “If approved, a Special Extension of Time means that you may have a substantial extension granted beyond the end of the teaching period or beyond what your Academic School considers a normal extension, to complete your assessment items.” For example, if you find yourself unwell for a period of time or maybe you’ve had to take on extra carer responsibilities as a result of covid, then you can apply for a SET so that you can submit your assessments when you are well and able.

This is also an example of how special extensions of time can help you to protect your GPA (grade point average).

For smaller extensions of time, for example, you have a cold and need an extra week to work on your assessment then you should follow the extension procedure outlined in your unit information, but for more substantial extensions (i.e. more than 2 or 3 weeks) you will require a SET.

What circumstances should I apply for a SET?

There are many reasons why students may request a special assessment. With COVID continuing to disrupt our study and life, UNE is granting special assessments to students who are experiencing any of the following:

  • contracting COVID-19,
  • increased carer commitments for family members resulting from COVID-19 diagnosis,
  • mandated self-isolation,
  • transitioned from on-campus to online learning,
  • been required to relocate from your usual study location or have circumstances that impact your study (e.g. home-schooling, caring for children) as a result of COVID-19 restrictions,
  • employment in an essential industry and have experienced increased or a change in work commitments due to COVID-19,
  • lost employment and needed to seek alternate employment or apply for government subsidies (this includes self-employed and affected business owners).

Other reasons may be due to other illnesses, injuries, or disruptions from distressing personal/ environmental / or global events.

I’ve realised I need a SET; how do I apply?

Advocacy and Welfare can help you with applying for special assessment extensions!

  • Don’t wait until the last minute! When it comes to SET applications, the sooner the better. Bear in mind that the application needs to be submitted 5 working days after the start of the exam period so it’s best to get your application done ASAP!
  • Contact us at or 02 6773 3116 if you need assistance with the application process or are not sure if a SET is the right option for you and we can provide advice on the best way to proceed.
  •  Gather supporting documentation (medical certificates; counselor’s reports; police reports; court documents) to back up your request. SET applications submitted without supporting documents will not be considered.
  • Create a draft application and email it to Advocacy & Welfare. Your draft should include your unit and assessment information, as well as the reason you have for applying (i.e. illness, special circumstances) and the amount of time you are requesting. As part of this, you need to.
  • Contact your unit coordinator so they are aware that you will be applying for a SET.
  • Be responsive. If an advocate from Advocacy & Welfare gets back to you with amendments to your draft, or to request additional information or documents be sure that you are prompt with your responses!
  • Submit! Once you have finalised your application with an advocate, they will then advise you on how to go about officially submitting your request.

What other options are there if I can’t submit an assessment?

As mentioned above, there can be a variety of support options for students who may be struggling to submit assessments. The first place to start is to follow your school’s extension process or contact your unit coordinator to see if you need to apply for a special assessment option.

Here are some options:

  • Special Consideration when MarkingYou may apply to have your situation considered when marking. This is worth up to a maximum of 3% added to the total mark for your unit. Please use the Special Consideration form to apply.
  • Deferred examsYou may request to sit your exam again or have it deferred to a later date. Please complete the Deferred Exam form for this option.
  • Special Extension of Time (SET)You may request an extension – up to a whole trimester (one year for Pracs). Please submit the Special Extension of Time form to apply.
  • Inability to attend Intensive Schools and Alternative AssessmentsAttendance is expected, however, if you have been prevented from attending a mandatory intensive school on campus in Trimester 1 2022 due to COVID-19 impact at the time the intensive school was scheduled, you may apply for a Deferred Intensive School. If approved, you will be invited to attend the Intensive School the next time the unit is offered or, where possible and appropriate, alternative arrangements may be made on a case-by-case basis. Please submit the Special Extension of Time form to apply.

So, what does all this have to do with my GPA?

Special assessments can help you to protect your GPA (grade point average). One of the best things you can do to #ProtectYourGPA while studying is to be aware of the resources available to you and not be afraid to access them. Special Extensions of Time are extremely useful and can help you to minimise the impact of adversity on your study so that you can better maintain a consistent level of achievement. By the time you’re gearing up to apply for grad jobs, you’ll be thanking yourself for all the extra steps you took to #ProtectYourGPA!

Reach out to our team at Advocacy and Welfare if you’re not sure where to begin or would like to know more about your options when applying for a special assessment! We’re here to help! 

The team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! Contact them here.
Student Success also has confidential counseling for students, you can find them here.
Lifeline is also a 24/7 hotline and you can call them on 13 11 14