120.2 Student Absences from Class

Created by: Stephanie Ferguson on 02/05/1999
Category: 1 - Academic Affairs; 20 - Responsibility
Originator: Academic Policies Committee
Current File: 120.2
Adoption Date: 05/02/2008
Reviewed for Currency: 05/02/2008
Replaces File: 120.2
Date of Origin: 09/11/1995
Classification: Faculty
In Archive? 0

120.2 Student Absences from Class


A. Background

Exercising their historical freedom and responsibility to set individualized class attendance policies for each of their courses, faculty employ a broad spectrum of policies governing students' absences from class and their options for making up work that is missed. Differences among courses and instructors may lead to confusion or misunderstanding on the part of students unless the policy for each course is clearly stated.


B. Policy

Each faculty member is expected to establish a policy governing student absences, both "excused" and "unexcused," and to publish this policy in the course syllabus each term. Unless the instructor announces otherwise, the policy stated in the university catalogue will be in effect.


C. Guidelines

1. The absence policy should state clearly the total number of absences allowed in the course and the penalty that will be imposed if the student exceeds the number allowed.

2. The policy should clarify what distinction, if any, the instructor makes between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. Professors who distinguish among reasons for absences should note the remaining guidelines listed below.

3. In the commonly accepted meaning, "excused" absences are those occurring when a student is ill; when other circumstances beyond a student's control prevent class attendance; when a student attends a required extracurricular activity, such as a field trip; or when a student is officially representing Furman in a scheduled activity, such as a musical performance, a scientific conference, or an intercollegiate athletic event.

4. Students who miss class with an excused absence should not be unfairly penalized for the work missed, but they are fully responsible for such work. Furthermore, if an instructor has established an attendance policy that limits the total number of absences allowed, excused absences do count against that limit.

5. The course syllabus should specify in detail the instructor's policy concerning a student's ability to make up work because of an excused absence. For example, if the policy is that a test can be made up only if taken earlier than the scheduled date and only with five class days' advance notice, then this fact should be clearly stated in the syllabus.

6. The student's role in the case of an anticipated excused absence is to notify the professor well in advance of the absence, to support the request with appropriate documentation, and to assume the full responsibility for making up work that is missed, in the manner specified in the course syllabus. The student must also keep count of total absences in the course in order to avoid earning an "F" for excessive absences, if that is the policy in a particular course.

7. The following procedures have been used in recent years to govern the documentation of excused absences: For short-term illnesses, a student should show the professor a note from the infirmary. For more serious illnesses requiring hospitalization or travel home, a university nurse or the Associate Academic Dean will obtain medical documentation and send a written statement to each of the student's professors. Absences due to a death in the family, religious observance, or other factors beyond the student's control will also be verified by the Associate Academic Dean.

8. When a faculty or staff member sponsors an event for which the participating students' absences are requested to be excused, the sponsor should record the request through the office of the Associate Academic Dean at least one week before the scheduled event, if possible. After this documentation is recorded in that office, the sponsor will be responsible for photocopying the request form and distributing it to the participating students, who will in turn give it to their course instructors at the time they inquire about arrangements to make up work that will be missed.

9. Rescheduling of a final exam for any reason, by either a student or a professor, must be approved in advance by the Associate Academic Dean. (See the "Examinations" sections of the university catalogue. Note that no special permission is needed if a faculty member wishes to allow a student to take an examination with students in another section of the same course.) A student's request to reschedule a final exam will be considered only in the case of serious illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control.