U of T has temporarily suspended the need for a Verification of Illness including a doctor’s note or medical certificates for medically related absences. However, documentation is still required for absences due to non-medical reasons.
We continue to ask members of our community to please remain home if they are ill. If you are unable to attend class or complete an assessment due to an illness, you must report your absence through the Student Absence Declaration Tool on ACORN. Please note that as of January 2, 2023, the maximum absence period you can declare on ACORN will change from fourteen to seven days in the future.
Please also refer to the Procedures in the Event of Confirmed/Symptomatic Case or Exposure to COVID-19 page from U of T’s Environmental Health & Safety and the Provincial Self-Assessment.
Sometimes, things do not go as planned. A petition is your formal request for an exception to a Faculty or University rule, regulation or deadline.
While the information below is considered informal and unofficial, you are encouraged to review it if you are unfamiliar with petitions. Official information can be found in the Academic Regulations chapter of the Academic Calendar. If you have any questions that are not addressed here, please contact the Office of the Registrar.
What is a Petition?
A petition is your formal request for an exception to a Faculty or University rule, regulation or deadline. The University of Toronto acknowledges that students sometimes encounter unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances that can severely interfere with their ability to fulfill their academic obligations.
Through the petition process, you may seek a resolution for the academic consequences that may have resulted from extenuating circumstances. However, you are expected to make every effort to complete term work and examinations. Petitions that arise from a failure to prioritize academic responsibilities or carelessness will not be granted.
Some examples of reasons you may consider submitting a petition:
- Severe personal illness
- Illness or death of a close family member
- Personal or family crisis
- Other extenuating circumstances
You may petition for exemption from a specific Faculty regulation. However, you must provide sufficient reasoning why the regulation should be waived or altered. It is highly recommended you consult your academic advisor before you submit a petition for special consideration.
Petitions for special consideration should be submitted through the Engineering Portal. Decisions regarding petitions, once decided, will appear in the Portal.
Special consideration: There is no deadline for petitions for special consideration. However, you should submit a petition for special consideration in a timely manner.
Academic and Personal Advising
If you are having difficulty with a course, you are encouraged to speak with your professor or instructor. However, if your difficulties continue, or if they are out of the scope of what your professor can assist with, please consult with your Academic Advisor.
You should not hesitate to speak with an Advisor to obtain clarification on any rules or regulations in the Academic Calendar. An Advisor can refer you to special services that may assist you with academic, personal or financial difficulties. Students in their first year of studies should contact their first-year Advisor; all other students should contact the academic Advisor in their respective departments. Consultations with Advisors are confidential. You are encouraged to contact your Advisor at the first sign of a problem that could potentially affect your studies.
Weighing the Potential Costs and Benefits of Submitting a Petition
When making a decision about your final exams because of medical or personal difficulty, consider the following:
- How well do you feel at the time of the exam
- Whether or not you can obtain official documentation that confirms your severe illness or circumstance
- How prepared do you feel at the end of the session versus attempting to retain the knowledge for a possible later exam date
It’s important to remember that the petition process is intended to assist students who are experiencing a severe illness or set of circumstances. Minor illnesses, such as a cold, are not considered severe enough to require accommodation.
Petition and Appeal Documentation
Official Supporting Documentation Requirements
If you are submitting a petition or an appeal, you must submit official supporting documentation to support your case. The official documentation is both a formal Faculty requirement and a necessary tool that assists the Faculty in making a decision. Your official supporting documentation must outline your situation and the dates you were affected. Strong documentation typically equals a stronger petition or appeal case.
Types of Documentation
The supporting documentation you need to attach to your petition or appeal must be relevant to your situation. For example, if you were in a traffic accident, you should submit a police accident report; if someone in your family passed away, you must submit a copy of the death certificate or funeral notice.
The most common piece of supporting documentation that the Faculty receives is the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form (formerly the U of T Medical Certificate).
A doctor’s note, which simply states that the “student cannot write” is insufficient. The Verification of Student Illness or Injury form asks specific questions the Faculty needs to be answered to gain a better understanding of the severity of your illness. If possible, please have your doctor complete the form at the time of your visit. A verification that indicates the doctor was told of your illness after the fact is typically insufficient.
Please note the successful submission of a completed U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form does not necessarily mean the Undergraduate Assessment Committee will provide accommodation. The Committee takes the severity, duration and date of the illness into consideration when making a decision regarding a petition.
Potential petition outcomes
While the Undergraduate Assessment Committee is mindful of your requests for a specific accommodation, the request is granted or denied on the appropriateness of standard practice.
If your petition is denied, you have thirty days to submit an official appeal to the Faculty. Typically, an appeal will include additional information that was not submitted with the original petition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Petitions
What documentation do I need for a petition?
Any documentation that can verify the facts of your case. Medical documentation will only be accepted on the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury form (formerly the U of T Medical Certificate). If you are seeing a physician, please download and print the form for your doctor to complete. If you did not have your doctor complete the form on your original visit, please return and have the doctor complete it.
Other documentation may also be relevant depending on the situation. The more “professional” the individual providing the documentation, the stronger your case will be. Someone unrelated to you and bound by professional standards of ethics is in a better position to provide formal documentation than a relative or friend. If you have any questions about what might be useful, consult the Office of the Registrar.
Why can’t I appear in person to argue my own case?
The Faculty reviews hundreds of petitions a year. The Undergraduate Assessment Committee uses written materials to consider petitions in order to expedite the process and to create a record of activities. If the Academic Appeals Board requests a hearing for your appeal, you will be asked to appear to answer questions about your case.
How long does it take to get a decision?
Even with the large number of petition requests the Faculty receives each session, most are dealt with promptly. The simplest petitions, such as those for missed exams that are accompanied by appropriate documentation, are answered almost immediately. Others take a little longer, but the vast majority of petitions are answered in a very timely way. The Faculty makes a firm endeavour to deal with all petitions within 90 days of receiving the petition and all documentation from the student. If a response seems to be taking a long time, you can follow up with the Office of the Registrar.
How will I receive notice that my petition request has been decided?
Decisions for petitions for special consideration and final examinations will appear on the Engineering Portal. You will receive an email advising that a decision has been rendered. If you have difficulties navigating the Engineering Portal please visit the Office of the Registrar.
I’ve received a petition decision but I don’t understand what it means. Who can help?
Petition decisions will state if an accommodation was offered. If you require additional information about your petition circumstances, please see your undergraduate academic advisor. For help understanding remedies and petition procedures, please see the Office of the Registrar.
Will the Undergraduate Assessment Committee “give me more marks?”
There is no approved accommodation that awards higher final marks. If the Undergraduate Assessment Committee grants an assessed mark, your final mark may change according to an assessed mark formula. All other final exam remedies involve non-grade symbols. While the Committee invites you to state the desired outcome for your petition and takes your request under consideration, it grants remedies based on appropriateness and standard practice.