Programs and Assessment for Elite Athletes - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 3.50.06a Academic Adjustments – Policy.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Academic Programs – sequence of study leading to the award of a qualification such as an undergraduate degree or diploma, and/or postgraduate coursework qualification.

AIS - Australian Institute of Sport

EAFU - Elite Athlete Friendly University

Elite athlete - is a student who is identified and recognised by one of the following organisations as an elite athlete representing Australia, or a State or Territory of Australia –

  • Australian Institute of Sport
  • National senior squad members from Sport Australia supported sports
  • State Institutes or Academies of Sport
  • AFL Players Association
  • Australian Cricketers' Association
  • Rugby Union Players' Association
  • Rugby League Professionals' Association
  • Australian Professional Footballers' Association

Athletes who fall outside the above are to apply directly to the Academic Registrar for consideration (see section 5.2)

Reasonable adjustment – for these procedures, a reasonable adjustment is a change to a course or program which may alter, within reason, the specific activities but retains the essential learning objectives for the course or program.

Supporting documentation - documentation provided by a student as part of an application to provide evidence for their claim.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to elite athletes representing Australia, or a State or Territory of Australia.

4. Procedures Statement

The procedures outlined below form one strategy to enable elite athletes who have training, competitive and/or practice commitments an opportunity to obtain tertiary qualifications.

5. Applying for Elite Athlete Consideration

The University of Queensland is endorsed by Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission) as an Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) which means that UQ supports the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) Guiding Principles for Implementation of the National Network of Elite Athlete Friendly Universities.

5.1 Sports Australia provides the University with a list of elite athletes from the AIS and other academies of sport prior to the start of each semester. These athletes automatically qualify and are approved as elite athletes.

5.2 Students who do not fall within the standard definition of elite athlete as set out in section 2 of this procedure may apply in writing for consideration to the Academic Registrar, together with supporting documentation. Supporting documentation is to be in the form of letters by:

  • Sporting authorities
  • Coaches or managers
  • Membership to sporting institutions
  • Evidence of training/sporting commitments for the relevant semester

5.3 The Academic Registrar will review applications and will notify the student whether the application has been approved or otherwise. UQ’s appointed EAFU liaison will act as a representative from the Sport Australia to investigate, verify and make a recommendation to the University if required.

5.4 Approval for elite athlete status is only valid for the current semester and students are required to re-apply for consideration for each subsequent semester of study.

5.5 Approved elite athlete status will be noted on SI-net with a Positive Service Indicator with the acronym EAC (Elite Athlete Consideration) for the relevant semester.

5.6 The student is notified of approval by letter which the student is required to produce to the school or faculty when seeking reasonable adjustments.

6. Administrative Procedures – Reasonable Adjustments

6.1 Enrolment

The University has in place policies to assist all students to complete their program in the minimum time including PPL 3.50.03a Credit for Previous Studies and Recognised Prior Learning – Policy. For elite athletes, additional adjustments might be required at certain times. Adjustments might include –

  • for those programs which allow part time study. When continuous enrolment is compulsory an arrangement will need to be negotiated;
  • where choice exists in the timetable, ability to negotiate lecture, tutorial and practical timetables;
  • extension to the time to complete a program of study;
  • the University may make provision for students to defer enrolment for major sporting events (eg in an Olympic Games year) for up to two years;
  • completion of some studies as a cross-institutional student or exchange student at an approved interstate or overseas university; or
  •  provision of summer study alternatives or where programs with multiple modes of delivery are available to undertake studies via distance mode.

6.2 Assessment

The University has procedures in place to cater for elite athletes who are prevented from sitting an examination because of sporting commitments at an elite level. As set out in the University's Academic Adjustments Policy (PPL 3.50.06), reasonable adjustments may be granted for special circumstances or incomplete results may be recorded to the limit specified in PPL 3.10.12 Finalisation of Grades.

Reasonable adjustments might include –

  • negotiating alternative assessment deadlines;
  • deferred examinations;
  • sitting the examinations off campus under examination conditions;
  • where appropriate, waiving of minimum attendance requirements at lectures, tutorials or practicals.

6.3 Timing of requests

The nature and extent of commitments to elite activity can be unpredictable and outside a student’s control. A student is expected to plan for known commitments well in advance. Students are required to seek assistance as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome, as the timing of requests may have an impact on the University’s capacity to provide assistance.

Students wishing to access any of the provisions provided in this procedure should approach the course coordinator providing documentation of sporting/training commitments to support their request. In the case of end of semester examinations, students should submit an application to sit off-campus, in accordance with section 5.6 of PPL 3.10.11 Examinations – Procedures.

Students must be formally recognised by the University as an elite athlete before being able to take advantage of the provisions in this procedure. Elite athlete status may not be applied retrospectively and will only apply to reasonable adjustments for the courses in which the student is currently enrolled.

6.4 Determination of special arrangements

Course Coordinators should consider all requests for assistance in the first instance once a student's elite athlete status has been verified.

In determining reasonable adjustments the following procedures will be observed:

a)   the status is reviewed on a semester-by-semester basis;

b)   requests for reasonable adjustments are normally lodged no later than one month prior to the commencement of the semester;

c)   faculties will consider the student's academic program and recommend if any adjustments are necessary;

(i)         For these procedures, an adjustment is reasonable if it balances the interests of all parties affected. Judgements about what is reasonable for a particular student, or a group of students, may change over time.

(ii)        In assessing whether a particular adjustment for a student is reasonable, regard should be had to all the relevant circumstances and interests, including the following:

  • The student’s circumstances;

  • The views of the student;

  • The effect of the adjustment on the student, including the effect on the student’s:

    1. ability to achieve learning outcomes; and

    2. ability to participate in courses or programs; and

    3. independence;

  • the effect of the proposed adjustment on anyone else affected, including the University, staff and other students;

  • the costs and benefits of making the adjustment.

A detailed assessment, which might include an independent expert assessment, may be required in order to determine what adjustments are necessary for a student. The type and extent of the adjustments may vary depending on the individual requirements of the student and other relevant circumstances. Multiple adjustments may be required and may include multiple activities. Adjustments may not be required for a student in some circumstances.

(iii)       In assessing whether an adjustment to the course or program in which the student is enrolled, or proposes to be enrolled, is reasonable, the University is entitled to maintain the academic requirements of the course or program, and other requirements or components that are inherent in or essential to its nature.


d)   in cases where students are dissatisfied with the proposed adjustments, the Academic Registrar will be responsible for reviewing the arrangements between the student and the school.

6.5 Other considerations

In observing these procedures the following matters can be considered:

  • The reasonable adjustments set out in this procedure are not intended to be prescriptive but to assist those responsible to achieve a measure of consistency. It must be recognised that each student's needs are individual. Not all needs sit comfortably into a set of predefined categories.
  • Timely consultation will be an important element of the process. For example, in consultation with the lecturer in charge of the particular course it may be determined that a reasonable adjustment, such as an extra assignment, may be more appropriate and as intellectually rigorous, as an examination with reasonable adjustments.
Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson
Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson