A decision taken by the Staff-Student Committee of the School of Medicine requires medical students to have an official correspondence between their physician and a medical professional within the School of Medicine in order to be eligible for extenuating circumstances in relation to assessment.

The University Observer understands that this decision will represent a new policy for the School of Medicine.

This contrasts with the policy held for students of other disciplines, in which a letter from a student’s personal physician confirming that they are ill is sufficient for them to be eligible for extenuating circumstances.

A medical student told The University Observer: “To be eligible for extenuating circumstances, they will have to ask their physician or their GP to write a note on their behalf that is a communication between two health professionals.

“That’s a departure from the norm, first of all, but it’s also a vast contrast from what other colleges and other schools within UCD require.”

The student expressed his belief that this generates a disparity between medical students and students of other disciplines: “Another way of looking at it is that medical students are being held to a higher standard.”

“For Engineering students who want a sick note, that’s decided by their GP. But now for medical students that require a sick note, the validity of that is going to be decided by the people in charge.”

The student stated that he feels that the decision was taken in light of the fact that a number of medical students are related to members of the medical profession and thereby can easily acquire a sick note where they seek extenuating circumstances: “A lot of medical students have parents or uncles or aunts, a lot of which are medical professionals, so it’s very easy in a lot of cases for medical students to get sick notes.”

However, a spokesperson for the university claimed: “There has been no change to the Extenuating Circumstances Policy approved by Academic Council on 10 December 2009. The UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science does not require specific medical notes from doctors. All medical certificates will be accepted and considered by the Examination Board. The Programme Board merely clarified that it regards a doctor’s note as a communication between health professionals and therefore should be of a professional standard. This will be communicated to students, as is normal practice.”