National Student Survey|

Formal Warnings


Royal Holloway expects you to fully engage with your academic studies. The academic formal warning procedure ensures that concerns about your performance or engagement are raised in enough time for you to take appropriate action to improve.

The academic formal warning procedure can be found in the College's  Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Research Degree Regulations|.

The following guidelines should provide you with a clear understanding of the formal warning procedure in relation to your programme of study and its significance. It is useful to read  all of these guidelines in conjunction with  the  Formal Warning Procedure Flowchart|.

What is an academic formal warning?

An academic formal warning is the first stage of a process which could lead to the termination of your registration at the College.  It provides an opportunity for your department/school to raise any concerns they have about your attendance of classes, submission of work, standard of work or academic results, and for you to raise any concerns of your own in relation to your studies. Any formal warning you receive is normally permanent and will remain active on your student record until the end of your degree programme and as a permanent part of your student record even after completion of your studies

What is a non-academic formal warning?

Non-academic formal warnings are issued through a different procedure. These can relate to unpaid fees or disciplinary issues and, like academic formal warnings, could lead to your registration at the College being terminated. To find out more about this procedure, please read the  Student Disciplinary Regulations|  or contact Support and Advisory Services (supportandadvisory@rhul.ac.uk, tel: +44 (0) 1784 443394 or 443955) for more information or advice.

Academic and non-academic formal warnings are completely separate processes. 

This means that:

  • one process does not affect the other
  • you can receive up to two formal warning letters from each process
  • your registration can be terminated through either process

Attendance

The College expects you to attend all classes necessary for your studies, attend meetings and other activities as required by your department/school(s). For PGR students, this may include supervisory meetings and training events. Although there is an expectation that you attend all classes/ activities, each department/school has their own levels of minimum acceptable attendance which will trigger the formal warning process. These will be outlined in the Student Handbook for your programme of study. More information on attendance and notification of absence can be found  here|.

Submission of Work

The College expects you to submit all necessary work (both formative and summative) by the deadline set and to an appropriate standard. If you cannot complete an assignment or other work, or know that you will not be able to submit it on time, it is your responsibility to speak with your department/school and provide a satisfactory explanation.  This applies equally to research students who may be required to produce drafts of their work to the required standard  for supervisors at agreed times.

Academic Results

The College expects you to make at least a reasonable attempt in your assessments or other work. If you are concerned about your work or academic results it is your responsibility to ask your Personal Advisor or supervisor for advice. Additional academic support is available to students through their department/school, or through the Educational Support Office.

Taking Action

If you are finding it difficult to attend classes or complete  assessments or other required work by the deadline set,  it is your responsibility to  let your department/school know|  and provide them with a satisfactory explanation.

Before a formal warning is given,  if there is concern about your standard of attendance, submission of work, quality of work or academic results,  you may be invited to an informal meeting with a member of academic staff in your department/school . You should take any meeting invitation seriously; it is an opportunity to seek advice and assistance, particularly if you are having problems. At the meeting, the department/school’s expectations of you will be made clear and the formal disciplinary process relating to your programme of study will be outlined to you.

Help and Advice

Royal Holloway is a friendly and caring community, offering an extremely high level of student welfare support to help you get the most out of your time here.  We understand that there are a large number of factors that can negatively influence your attendance, submission of work, standard of work or academic results, but there are also many places where you can get advice and guidance. Please follow this link to the College’s  Student Welfare  pages for more details.

If you are having other problems that are causing you to miss classes or impact on your academic work, you should talk to your Personal Adviser, Year Tutor, Supervisor or Director of Graduate Studies or another member of academic staff, or visit the  Support and Advisory Services or  Students’ Union| before they result in a formal warning. 

The  Education and Welfare Office| at the Students’ Union is able to provide support and advice before, during and after a formal warning process has commenced (+44 (0) 1784  276700).

Understand the procedure

The formal warning procedure can lead to the termination of your registration at the College. It is therefore important that you read and understand the Formal Warnings section of the  Academic Regulations| which apply to your programme of study , these guidance pages and the  Formal Warning Procedure Flowchart|.

Your Head(s) of Department/School can issue you with up to  two formal warnings for your programme of study by letter and/or email. If your Head of Department/School is your Personal Adviser or Supervisor, it may be more appropriate for a different member of academic staff to issue your formal warning and monitor your progress.

Along with the formal warning letter, your department/school may supply a list of dates of absences (including those that led to your formal warning), copies of correspondence in which warnings, both formal and informal, have been given, notes of meetings between you and the department/school,  a list of any outstanding work and work not completed to a satisfactory standard.

At each formal warning you will be offered the opportunity to submit a written response and/or to meet with your Head(s) of Department/School to discuss their reasons for the warning. 

You will be given a set period of time to show immediate and sustained improvement before further disciplinary action is taken if you fail to meet the necessary requirements stated in the letter. This will either be a second formal warning or the termination of your registration if a second warning has already been issued.

Be proactive

You should take the warning seriously; if you don’t meet with your department/ school or make the necessary immediate and sustained improvements  your registration at the College can be terminated on academic grounds.

Respond to the formal warning letter

You will be given the opportunity to submit a written response including relevant documentary evidence of any issues which you feel should be taken into account. 

You will also be given the opportunity to meet with the Head(s) of Department /School to discuss their reasons for the warning. You will have the option to take another student or member of staff of the College to the meeting with you.

Demonstrate improvement

You should show immediate and sustained improvement and do what is asked of you in the warning letter, within the period of time given (normally over at least four weeks after the formal warning letter, or three weeks in the case of courses taught over only one term). Your department/school may decide to issue a second formal warning or request for your registration to be terminated sooner if you fail to meet the conditions or fail to make immediate improvements which would prevent you from meeting the full conditions of your warning.

Sustain improvement

Your improvement should be immediate and sustained throughout the period of time given in the formal warning letter. You must also make sure that you maintain these improved standards after the period stated as disciplinary action can be resumed at any point during the rest of your studies. 

Ask for help

The Education and Welfare Office| at the Students’ Union is able to provide support and advice before, during and after a formal warning process has commenced (+44 (0) 1784  276700).

You may also find it helpful meet with a member of your department (e.g. your Personal Tutor, the Academic Coordinator, Programme Director, Director of Graduate Studies) in order to discuss the reasons behind your formal warning.

If after two formal warnings you have not shown enough improvement, your department/school may ask for your registration to be terminated on academic grounds (unless you give them sufficient evidence of extenuating circumstances)

Also, if you have received a formal warning during your studies and fail to progress to the next stage of your taught programme or qualify for the award, the Sub-board of Examiners may recommend to the College Board of Examiners that your registration be terminated without offering an opportunity to resit or repeat.

Your Head(s) of Department/ School will write to you and the Academic Registrar explaining their decision and grounds for it. If the Academic Registrar agrees that your registration should be terminated, s/he will present the case to the Vice-Principal (Education) who will make a final decision based on the particular circumstances.  

If the Vice-Principal (Education) determines that your registration should be terminated, the Academic Registrar or nominee will write to you to confirm this decision. They will also tell you that you have the right to submit an appeal against this decision by a certain date, and direct you to the relevant appeals| procedure in the  Academic Regulations| which apply to your programme of study.

FAQ's

Are formal warnings permanent? 

If you receive a formal warning, this will remain active on your student record until the end of your programme of study and kept on your file forever, carried forward from year to year until the end of your programme of study. They will remain active if you change to another programme at the same level where credits are carried over (e.g. from BSc Physics with Music to BSc Physics). Warnings will not be carried over from a lower to a higher level degree programme, e.g. warnings issued during undergraduate studies will not be carried over to a postgraduate taught programme of study.

I've received a warning about one particular course. Is that still a formal warning?

If you receive a formal warning because of poor performance or attendance on one particular course, this will relate to your  whole programme of study  and registration with the College,  as individual courses are integral to each programme of study.

Alternatively, your department may have issued you with an informal  warning about your performance on an individual course where continued poor performance may lead to you failing the course. This may impact on progression or qualifying for an award. If this is the case, this warning will not automatically lead to the termination of your registration, but should be taken very seriously as failure to demonstrate an improvement could lead to a formal warning for your programme being issued.

The warning letter should make clear whether it should be considered a formal or informal warning. If you are in doubt, you should seek advice from the person who sent the letter at the earliest opportunity.

Why have I received a first formal warning?

Your first formal warning may be a result of failure to:

  • attend enough lectures or seminars;
  • submit formative or summative work on time (or not submit the work at all);
  • produce work of a satisfactory standard (e.g. when a member of staff in the department/school does not believe that a reasonable attempt has been made in your coursework or exams or doctoral work is not of the required standard).

The formal warning letter will tell you whether you have failed to meet all or some of these requirements.

Why have I received a second formal warning?

If you fail to meet the conditions of your first formal warning (which may have been issued in a previous academic year), or initially meet them but do not sustain your improvement, your department/school will have no alternative but to send you a second formal warning.

What happens if I ignore a formal warning letter?

If you do not meet with your department/school, or make the necessary improvements listed in the formal warning letters, they can either issue a second formal warning or request the termination of your registration with the College on academic grounds.  

What if my poor performance is due to extra-curricular activities?

You must manage your time so that any paid employment, voluntary work or other activities fit into the times when you are not required to be in a class. Remember that the  Academic Regulations|  specify that full-time students should not undertake more than 20 hours of paid work per week during term time, and that no student should undertake paid work which may conflict with his/her student responsibilities. Therefore, extra-curricular activities are  not an acceptable excuse for an unsatisfactory standard of attendance, submission of work, standard of work or academic results.

What if I am on a joint degree programme?

If you are on a joint or combined honours programme, both Heads of Department(s)/School(s) will approve a formal warning. Therefore, any formal warning received will relate to and affect your whole programme of study.

What if I have extenuating circumstances?

In situations where you have experienced adequately documented severe difficulties, the College will make every effort to support and counsel you as to the best course of action. 

Sometimes, even though your unsatisfactory attendance, submission of work or results can be explained by an acceptable reason, these may fall so much that you cannot meet the learning outcomes of your programme of study. In such cases the formal warning process may continue or alternatively you may be advised to interrupt your studies until your personal circumstances have improved and you are able to fully engage with and benefit  from your studies. 

You should take any such advice seriously as it will have your best academic interests in mind. 

If you are having other problems that are causing you to miss classes or impact on your academic work, you can talk to your Personal Adviser, Year Tutor, another member of academic staff, or visit the  Support and Advisory Services or  Students’ Union| at any time.

Can I receive a warning for poor attendance even if I've submitted all my work?

Formal warnings are given if your records of attendance, submission of work, standard of work or  academic results are unsatisfactory. Therefore, even if you submit all of your work and receive good results your registration can still be terminated if you fail to attend sufficient  lectures and seminars and meet the minimum attendance requirements set by your department/school.

Can my registration be terminated after only one formal warning?

Through the  academic formal warning procedure, your registration will only be terminated after two formal warnings have been given. However, if the College Board of Examiners decides that your academic performance has been consistently inadequate, there is no evidence of sufficient improvement and that you have failed to meet the requirements to progress or for an award to be made, they can approve the termination of your registration even though only one first formal warning has been issued. In such opportunities you will not be offered the opportunity to resit or repeat.

Can a formal warning be withdrawn?

Your Head(s) of Department/ School may decide to formally withdraw their warning if you submit a satisfactory and adequately documented explanation for their concerns over your performance. Your Head(s) of Department/School will  write to you to confirm this decision.

Royal Holloway, University of London logo|
16/04/2014
Formal Warnings

It is useful to read all of these guidelines in conjunction with the Formal Warning Procedure Flowchart|

Regulations

Undergraduate Regulations|

Postgraduate Taught Regulations|

Research Degree Regulations|