Elite Athletes: Guidelines for Academic Flexibility

Elite Athletes: Guidelines for Academic Flexibility

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1. Introduction

Elite athletes are those students who receive support under the Elite Athlete Programme at Queen’s or hold a scholarship for one of the Queen’s Sports Academies or a Queen’s Sports Bursary.  Queen’s University recognises that combining high level sport and higher education can be difficult.  The University is fully supportive of elite athletes who manage themselves well and are proactive in organising their sport and their studies.

The University has therefore developed the following guidelines for academic flexibility to allow those students to combine their sporting responsibilities with their academic requirements.

These Guidelines apply to those deemed to be elite athletes and who are required to attend training or competition associated with their elite athlete status. The University recognises that elite athletes may not know whether they will be called to participate in a competition until relatively near the event. The University will endeavour to accommodate requests for academic flexibility however the timescales involved may limit what can reasonably be accommodated.

2. Assessment / Coursework Deadlines

Elite athletes will be able to request extensions to assessment deadlines, appropriate to their training or competition needs. Students should contact their School for information on the procedures on requesting an extension to assessment deadlines.

3. Examinations

Elite athletes will be able to request examination flexibility under special examination regulations if competing at national or international sporting events.  In such cases, the student must advise the Director of Education in their School and the University’s Examinations Office at the earliest opportunity.

4. Leave of Absence/Authorised Absence from Scheduled Classes

Elite athletes will be able to request a leave of absence if competing at national or international sporting events.  Where appropriate, elite athletes may also request absence from scheduled classes.  It should be noted that this will not be possible for some professionally accredited programmes which have attendance requirements.

5. Longer Study Period

Where appropriate, and on a case by case basis in agreement with their Director of Education, it may be possible for elite athletes to ‘stretch their studies’ over a longer period to accommodate training needs and major competitions.

6. Protocol

  1. Queen’s Sport will identify those students who meet the criteria throughout the year and inform the appropriate Director of Education.
  2. If a student does not receive support under the programmes listed above, they still may qualify for academic flexibility based on the level of competition they or their club is competing at as agreed by Queen's Sport and the Director of Academic and Student Affairs. This should be established before a Elite Athletes: Application for Academic Flexibility is submitted to the relevant Director of Education. Varsity sport is not automatically considered as ‘elite’ level and a decision to permit academic flexibility to students participating in varsity sport will be done on a case by case basis.
  3. It should be noted that those students who do not qualify for academic flexibility should be made aware that sporting activities are not normally acceptable as exceptional circumstances unless they are deemed to be at an ‘elite’ level as defined by Queen’s Sport in agreement with the Director of Academic and Student Affairs.
  4. Any request for academic flexibility must be made in good time by the student, endorsed by Queen’s Sport and accompanied by supporting evidence.  The student should submit the request to the Director of Education for decision.
  5. Students with academic flexibility will be expected to complete all elements of their programme and will not be given exemption from completing compulsory pieces of assessed work. 
  6. Students will be made aware that flexibility cannot be guaranteed at all times, depending on the requirements of their academic programme.  Students who have been granted academic flexibility will be required to sign a Code of Commitment stipulating that excellent academic standards must be maintained in order to retain their sporting status.  It will be within the remit of the Director of Academic and Student Affairs to withdraw academic flexibility if, on the advice of the Director of Education, the student’s studies are seen to be suffering.  Where academic flexibility is permitted, students cannot assume that this will be the case for future applications. Each application for flexibility will be treated in light of the circumstances as they present themselves on each occasion.
  7. Both the student and the University have a responsibility to ensure that elite athletes can compete at the highest level whilst also meeting the requirements of their academic programmes.