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.
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.
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 Office of the Registrar.
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.
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 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(s) 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.
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.
*See note at top of the page.
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.
*See note at top of the page.
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.
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.