The Student Room Group

will having extenuating circumstances on my reference disadvantage me

i asked for my teacher to add to my reference that i experienced issues to do with mental health during secondary school which required hospitalisation and i thus came out of school with only a few gcses, i then took an intensive gcse course which only allowed for the taking of five subjects. i really only wanted for this to be added to my reference bc i wanted to inform the unis why i do not have as many gcses as the average student but i am now worried that i should not have this added as it may disadvantage me due to stuff i saw online. should i have my situation added to my reference or not ???
Hi, totally understand your concern over this, but it's the right thing to do to provide universities with information on your extenuating circumstances. It lets them have the context they need for why you may have less qualifications that usual and means they can make you aware of the student support services available ahead of commencing your studies. As far as I am aware there should be no reason that including these circumstances in your reference should disadvantage your application at all. Universities absolutely should not discriminate against your application based on you having a mental health condition that affected your studies.

I've been able to find some UCAS guidance on extenuating circumstances and one of the FAQs is titled "Will applicants be disadvantaged if there is no information included for section 2?" seeming to imply that some people are concerned extenuating circumstances provide an extra advantage to applicants. They confirm that this is not the case and that "information about personal circumstances is only ever used to help Universities and Colleges to better understand individuals’ contexts and support needs." You can view this here:

I really hope this has been reassuring, but if you're still concerned then I would encourage you to get in contact with the universities you have applied to just so you can get their admissions policies in writing. All the best to you with your applications!

- Matthew, Enquiry Team
It won’t disadvantage you in any way. I would always provide this kind of additional info.

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