Attendance and Engagement

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University teaching at postgraduate level is often less ‘hands on’ than you may be used to from your previous studies. A key outcome of university‐level education, and particularly postgraduate education, is that of student independence and initiative: we expect our graduates to possess the skills and confidence needed to find things out for themselves, rather than requiring significant and ongoing direction.

In the early stages of your programme we seek to accustom you to becoming proactive in directing your own learning, especially in seminars and tutorial sessions. You will then be increasingly challenged to make practical use of the independence, confidence and initiative you have developed. Through participation in discussions, and occasionally through giving presentations in tutorials, crits, tutorial‐like seminars, and studios, your progress as an independent learner will be demonstrated (and in some cases, evaluated). You will also be encouraged to engage in extra-curricular seminars and events, many of which will have a participatory element.

Your involvement in all such activities will play an important role in you taking ownership of your learning and academic development, and in many cases will be central to achieving the intended learning outcomes of our courses.

Where we monitor your attendance and engagement

Attendance monitoring varies across programmes and between undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. ECA, like other areas in the University, will take attendance/engagement registers at a range of events which may include:

  • small-group sessions such as tutorials, seminars, studios and crits;
  • submission of coursework;
  • attending a meeting with your Personal Tutor, Supervisor etc.

We monitor your engagement with your studies across a range of events and across the duration of your studies. If you do not attend or engage with your studies and start to miss these engagement points, we will follow this up with you.  Using these engagement points assists ECA in identifying where you may be experiencing difficulties and ensures that timely and appropriate intervention can be made to prevent non-attendance becoming a serious matter.

Avoid problems – Keep in contact with us

If you know you are going to miss a seminar/tutorial/studio then you must let us know (see below). You should outline the reason for not attending. If you have a valid reason for not attending, i.e. something out with your control such as illness, emergency care for a dependant etc., then we will mark you as exempt from attending.  Please contact us in advance – if this is not possible then contact us within 5 working days of the event. It is important to note that poor time-management is not a valid reason, so the following would not be accepted as valid reasons for being absent: you slept in; you had commitments to other work/paid employment, etc. 

Whilst we realise that not every student will have a 100% attendance record, we do expect you to engage with your studies throughout your time in Edinburgh. As outlined below, we will contact you if your attendance is lower than expected/required for the programme.

Who to contact about not attending:

  • For teaching events and assessment – email the Course Organiser/tutor and
  • If you are going to miss a number of classes or other programme level events (e.g. induction), then please email your Personal Tutor, and copy your email in to the ECA Student Support Office at
  • If you need to apply for an interruption to your studies (i.e. you need to be away for 2 weeks or more) then contact your Personal Tutor, and copy your email in to the ECA Student Support Office at

What happens if you don’t engage with your studies?

The Escalation Procedure is a formal, recorded structure of communications with a student who has a demonstrable lack of engagement with their studies, such as though attendance that falls below the agreed level of engagement required by the University.

You will enter the Escalation Procedure if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Your engagement level falls below 75%;
  • Your last positive engagement was more than 30 days ago;
  • You fail to respond to communications regarding non-engagement.

Ultimately, the Escalation Procedure can lead to exclusion for non-attendance. For Tier 4 sponsored students, exclusion immediately results in losing sponsorship by the University.

If we notice a pattern of non-engagement with your studies then our first response is normally pastoral in nature i.e. to make sure that things are OK. If your engagement continues to be poor, or if you fail to respond to communications regarding your non-engagement or attendance, then we will escalate as outlined below:

  • STAGE 1 – Informal email message. We will let you know that your engagement with your studies is below what is expected. This normally consists of attending less than 75% of all events where attendance is monitored and/or failing to confirm your attendance at the start of teaching. You will be given 5 working days to respond or to re-engage with your studies.
  • STAGE 2 – Formal warning. If you fail to re-engage with your studies and/or fail to respond to school communications, you will be considered to be at Stage 2. You will again be contacted and given a further 5 working days to respond or to re-engage.
  • STAGE 3 – At this point we deem your attendance/engagement to be inconsistent and of serious concern. Further investigations will be made to determine whether you are otherwise progressing with your programme, and it is likely that you will be invited to attend a meeting with the School to discuss your non-engagement.
  • FINAL STAGE –  If you have consistently missed engagement points (meeting your personal tutor/supervisor, tutorials, seminars, studio registers, submitting assessments, attending examinations, etc.) or your academic progress more widely is at a level deemed unacceptable, then ECA will consider your status using the ‘Procedure for Withdrawal and Exclusion from Studies’ policy and the Taught Assessment Regulations. 

If you reach this Final Stage, you will normally be referred to College (i.e. CAHSS) by your School (i.e. ECA). College will then invite you to a formal meeting, with one possible outcome being your exclusion based upon the issue of persistent non-engagement.

  • If you are a Tier 4 student, the University will report the decision to exclude you to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKV&I) Office, informing them that we have withdrawn your sponsorship. This is done within 10 working days of the date of decision to exclude.

Please note that all attendance and engagement communications will be sent via email to your University email account. It is your responsibility to check your email regularly and to respond to emails in a timely fashion. Not checking your email will not be considered a valid reason if you have entered the Escalation Procedure. This includes situations where you may be studying away from the University (e.g. study abroad, ERASMUS, work placements etc.).

What Happens If You Don’t Attend Any Classes At All?

If you are recorded as having 0% attendance in your teaching activities, and you have no contact with anyone at the University, you will be at risk of expulsion after 60 days. Your situation will be considered under an Accelerated Escalation Procedure, and will immediately progress to the next stage if no response has been received after 7 days, and no other contact has been made with the University.

International Students on a Tier 4 visa

As a Tier 4 student, the University of Edinburgh is the sponsor of your UK visa. The University has a number of legal duties to manage its sponsorship of your visa. These include:

  • Regularly monitoring your attendance/engagement on your programme;
  • Reporting to UKV&I if you suspend or withdraw from your studies, complete them early, fail to register, or are repeatedly absent to the point of being excluded from studies.

As a student with a Tier 4 visa sponsored by the University of Edinburgh, the terms of your visa require you to, (amongst others):

  • Ensure you have a correct and valid visa for studying at the University of Edinburgh, which, if a Tier 4 visa, requires that it is a visa sponsored by the University of Edinburgh;
  • Attend all of your University classes, lectures, tutorials, etc. where required. This includes participating in the requirements of your course including submitting assignments, attending meetings with tutors and attending examinations. If you cannot attend due to illness, for example, you must inform your School.

Please note that any email relating to your Tier 4 sponsorship, will be sent to your University email address – it is your responsibility to check this regularly.

Please familiarise yourself with your Visa responsibilities and restrictions by reading the following links:

Students with questions related to their Tier 4 visa should visit the Student Immigration Service website at: