Please note that as of September 1, 2023, all petition submissions will require documentation. This includes the Verification of Illness form for medically related absences, with the exception of one term-work petition per term if specific requirements are met.
Engineering students will no longer be able to declare their absence on ACORN. Please refer to the "Self-Declaration of Illness" section below for more information.
Sometimes, things don't 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 Registrar's Office.
What is a Term-Work 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 fulfil 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
If you are unavoidably absent and miss term work (e.g. test, quiz, assignment, lab), discuss the matter with your instructor immediately. If necessary, submit a term-work petition.
All term-work petitions must be submitted through the online petition system, which is accessible through the Engineering Portal.
Term-Work Petition Deadlines
The deadline to submit a term-work petition and the accompanying supporting documentation, if needed, is seven days after the missed or affected term work.
Petition and Appeal Documentation
Official Supporting Documentation Requirements
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 the 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 the Faculty receives is the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form.*
A doctor’s note that simply states that the “student cannot write” is insufficient. The Verification of Student Illness or Injury form asks specific questions the Faculty needs 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 your Instructor will provide accommodation. The Faculty takes the severity, duration and date of the illness into consideration when making a decision regarding a petition.
With regards to petitions, the U of T Verification of Illness or Injury Form is the only official method to document and verify an illness or injury. The form must be completed by a member of one of the following groups of medical practitioners: physician, surgeon, nurse, dentist and/or clinical psychologist.
For non-medical emergencies, a student may submit alternate documentation to support their petition. If a student plans to submit supporting documentation for a non-medical emergency, the documentation should appear on the writer’s official letterhead, include contact information and official stamp (if available). The document should include the following:
- The student’s full name.
- The writer’s relationship to the student (e.g. pastor).
- The relevant circumstances or events, severity and how they interfered with the student’s capacity to attend to academic work (e.g. mild, moderate, serious, severe).
- That the writer has direct first-hand knowledge of the circumstances, rather than second-hand knowledge reported by the student.
- Relevant dates (i.e. when the writer has had contact with the student).
- The student’s signature to indicate they gave the writer permission to share the information in the document with the Faculty and permission to allow the Faculty to verify the information with the writer.
Self-Declaration of Illness
Within U of T Engineering, undergraduate students are able to file one term-work petition per term without documentation (i.e., self-declare their own illness) through the Engineering Portal under the following restrictions:
- A petition supported by a self-declaration of illness (i.e., without medical documentation) may not cover a period of longer than three calendar days.
- Any missed term work valued at 15% or greater will require students to provide a completed and signed Verification of Illness (VOI) form.
- A student may not self-declare an illness if they miss an exam. All final exam petitions require supporting documentation.
- A student may only self-declare their absence once per term.
How to Submit a Self-Declaration of Illness Term-Work Petition
To submit a term-work petition where you self-report an illness, select the “Self-declaration of illness” option under “Term-work petition – Reason.” Term-work petitions are submitted through the Engineering Portal.
Engineering students are no longer able to self-declare their absence through the ACORN Absence Declaration Tool. Please note that Engineering students taking courses from the Faculty of Arts & Science must use the Engineering Portal to self-declare an illness.
If you have any questions regarding the Self-Declaration of Illness, please consult your undergraduate office, Academic Advisor or the Office of the Registrar.
Potential Petition Outcomes
Most petitions can be dealt with promptly provided the petition is complete and includes all relevant information and/or documentation. Should a petition require broader consultation, it could take several weeks.
Accommodations for term-work petitions vary. Decisions and accommodation plans are communicated to students through the Engineering Portal.
If the decision includes accommodation, the Course Coordinator/Instructor will select the most appropriate accommodation and communicate it to the student prior to the next major assessment and before the final exam. Should a student have concerns about an accommodation, they should discuss the matter with the Course Coordinator/Instructor.
While instructors are mindful of your requests for specific accommodations, the requests are granted or denied on the appropriateness of standard practice.
The details of a student’s petition — description and documentation — are only visible to the student’s Academic Advisor. However, if a need-to-know is demonstrated, the Academic Advisor may share additional information with the Course Coordinator/Instructor. If a student has privacy concerns, they are encouraged to discuss them with their Academic Advisor prior to submitting a petition.
There is no formal appeal process for term-work petitions. If a student strongly disagrees with the decision or has a serious concern regarding the type of accommodation provided the student must discuss their concerns with their Academic Advisor immediately upon receiving the decision/accommodation.
The Academic Advisor will listen to the student’s concern and explain why a particular decision or accommodation was made. To arrive at the best possible decision and accommodation, the student’s Academic Advisor will consult with their associate chair, course instructor, and the Registrar’s Office.
If you have additional questions regarding term-work petitions, you're encouraged to consult your Academic Advisor.