Student Attendance and Absences


All undergraduate students are encouraged to attend every class session. Even one absence can mean that the student might miss vital information. 

  • Individual instructors, course supervisors, and/or departments determine the policy concerning class attendance and absences. This policy should be clearly stated on the required course syllabus. 
  • Attendance policies should be discussed during class and throughout the semester as needed, but especially before the due dates of major assignments and before exams. Students with questions are encouraged to ask for clarification.
  • It is the responsibility of each student to know a course's attendance and absence policy.
  • If an issue arises, CLAS first uses the stated attendance and absence policy within the syllabus to help adjudicate a problem.

Absences related to SDS accommodations follow different policies and procedures than those below; visit the related website for more information.

Absences: Illness, Religious Obligations, Unavoidable Circumstances

University policy requires that students be permitted to make up examinations missed because of illness, mandatory religious obligations, and unavoidable circumstances.

  • The attendance policy must provide options for making up exams missed due to one of these excused absences.
  • Only exams are required to be made up under these circumstances; other assignments, quizzes, and related participation activities, such as group projects, are not covered by this policy. 

Instructors use their professional discretion when deciding whether or not to allow a student to make up missed work other than examinations because of the differing circumstances around such situations. Approaches will vary, depending on the course size, the absence policy stated on the syllabus, and other issues.

Short-term Illness

Students with the flu, colds, or other viruses are encouraged by the health care community to stay home and not to seek care since viruses spread quickly in public places. Student Health & Wellness no longer provides documentation to students for short-term illness. (Note: Information on long-term illness is in the next section.)

Because medical documentation generally is not available for short-term illnesses, instructors instead use an alternative strategy, such as these noted below. Other strategies also are allowed by the College.

  • There often is a correlation between students struggling in class with absences, especially on days that key assignments are due. Instructors should discuss the situation with a student individually, especially before an important due date, referring the student to available resources or suggesting other solutions. 
  • Some instructors, particularly those teaching larger numbers of students, give students a certain number of excused absences to be used when the student must miss class. After those absences are used, the student must provide documentation for an absence or is held to the consequence of missing class.
  • Some instructors organize makeup examination sessions in advance of any exams, allowing students who are approved to use this alternative test date. 

Long-term Illness

  • A student with a long-term illness should notify the instructor as soon as possible or ask a family member to do so.
  • A student with a long-term illness should provide a record of appointments or documentation from a health care provider, stating the student has been under the doctor's care. 
  • Students who visit Student Health & Wellness have access to their electronic medical records through MyChart. If a student has activated this service, they are able to print a summary of appointment dates and times from MyChart. Faculty who want documentation for a long-term illness generally accept a student's summary of visits as adequate documentation. A student's specific medical record should not be shared with an instructor for reasons related to the student's privacy and federal mandates.
  • A student who is absent for more than five days because of an emergency or a severe illness may request the UI Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, 319-384-4300,, notify each instructor about absence.
  • The CLAS Academic Programs and Student Development office, 120 Schaeffer Hall, also may be contacted so that the office can help facilitate the student’s needs. Please call 319-335-2633 if assistance is required.
  • Depending on the amount of work missed, it may be necessary for the student to drop courses or withdraw from the entire semester
  •  An Incomplete may be given by an instructor only when the amount of work not completed is small and the student is in good standing in the course.
  • Students who need ongoing academic accommodations for chronic conditions should apply for accommodations through Student Disability Services.

Mandatory Religious Obligations

A student with a mandatory religious obligation that interferes with examination times must provide documentation to verify this obligation before it occurs in order to be permitted to make up the examination. As soon as the obligation is known, the instructor should be notified.

Unavoidable Circumstances

An unavoidable circumstances is defined as an event beyond the student's control and often involve a serious and unexpected hospitalization, a family tragedy, or a related incident. Such circumstances do not include attendance at a wedding, a family vacation, obligations related to work, or other such matters.

Students should contact their instructors as soon as possible to notify them of the event. The student or a family member also may contact the UI Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, 319-384-4300, This office will notify the student’s instructors in the case of a serious emergency when the student will be away from class for longer than five days.

CLAS Academic Programs and Student Development, 120 Schaeffer Hall, 319-335-2633, also may be contacted to help facilitate the student’s needs. If you anticipate an extended absence, see Withdrawal of entire registration. An Incomplete may be given by an instructor only when the amount of work not completed is small and the student is in good standing in the course.

Absences: UI Authorized Activities

Students participating in authorized UI activities are expected to give each instructor a statement before the absence that is signed by a responsible UI official related to the event that specifies the dates and times the student will miss class.

Activities authorized by UI include participation in intercollegiate athletic teams, in the marching band and pep band, attendance at events scheduled by recognized University groups as well as participation in University field trips, service with the National Guard, and jury duty.

Activities related to employment, fraternities or sororities, or volunteer activities are not considered authorized activities.

Absences: Exam Conflicts

Some courses schedule midterm examinations outside of the regular class period and at times these conflict with a student's other classes or exams. The University has established policies to govern these situations as noted on the Office of the Registrar's website under Midterm Exam Policies.

A week for final examinations is set aside at the end of each semester, during which time no classes are held. With the exception of changes authorized by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum, all CLAS final exams or assessments must be given during this week, according to the schedule announced by the Registrar. Additional information may be found on the Office of the Registrar's website under Final Exam Policies.