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 the instructor 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 Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodations follow different policies and procedures than those below; visit the related website for more information.

Absence Form for Students

Students are encouraged to use this form to share the reasons for an absence with the instructor. The form also may be found on ICON under the Student Tools tab at the top of the page where course evaluations are located.

Absences: Illness, Religious Holy Day Obligations, Military Service Obligations, Unavoidable Circumstances

University policy requires that students be permitted to make up examinations missed because of illness, religious holy day obligations, military service obligations, including service-related medical appointments, or unavoidable circumstances.

  • The attendance policy must provide options for making up exams missed due to one of the above excused absences.
  • Note the expanded policy concerning makeup work and religious holy day obligations in the UI Operations Manual, outlined below.

  • Otherwise, 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 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 does not provide 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 permitted by the College.

  • There often is a correlation between a student struggling in class and the student's number of absences. Instructors are asked to discuss this situation with a student individually, especially before an important due date, referring the student of 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 make-up examination sessions in advance of any exams, allowing students who are approved by the instructor to use this alternative test date. Instructors are encouraged to use new test content for this second exam in order to be fair to all students.

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 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 on MyChart 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 a serious emergency or a severe illness may request the UI Service Center, 2700 UCC, 319-384-4300,, notify each instructor about absence.
  • CLAS Undergraduate Programs also may be contacted so that the office can help the student and discuss possible options. 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.

Religious Holy Day Obligations

The University Operations Manual states that the University shall make reasonable accommodations for students whose religious holy days coincide with classroom assignments.

  • Students who are unable to attend class where attendance is mandatory because of a religious holy day obligation must notify the course instructor during the first few days of the semester or session, but no later than the third week of the semester or session. If the absence must occur within the first three weeks of a semester or session, the student must give a one week notice of the absence.
  • Students who notify their instructors of a religious holy day conflict in a timely manner shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up the material or activities covered in their absence, including tests. Students who receive an exemption on religious grounds cannot be penalized for failing to attend class on the days exempted. The instructor may, however, appropriately respond if the student fails to satisfactorily complete any alternative assignment or examination.
  • Students with attendance conflicts may be required to notify an instructor in writing. An instructor who requires written notice must inform the class of this expectation in the class syllabus. An instructor may deny a student's request for an excused absence on the ground that the request was not made within a reasonable time period, that is, no later than the third week of class or one week before the absence if a conflict occurs before that time.

Military Service Obligations

Effective March 3, 2020, the University Operations Manual states that the University shall make reasonable accommodations for students who are absent from class due to U.S. veteran or U.S. service obligations.

  • Students absent from class or class-related requirements due to U.S. veteran or U.S. military service obligations (including military service–related medical appointments, military orders, and National Guard Service obligations) shall be excused without any grading adjustment or other penalty.
  • Instructors shall make reasonable accommodations to allow students to make up, without penalty, tests and assignments they missed because of veteran or military service obligations. Reasonable accommodations may include making up missed work following the service obligation; completing work in advance; completing an equivalent assignment; or waiver of the assignment without penalty.
  • In all instances, students bear the responsibility to communicate with their instructors about such veteran or military service obligations, to meet course expectations and requirements.

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.
  • If this is a serious emergency that will last longer than five days, the student or a family member also may contact the UI Service Center, 2700 UCC, 319-384-4300, This office will notify the student’s instructors of the absence.
  • CLAS Undergraduate Programs, 319-335-2633 or, also may be contacted to help facilitate the student’s needs and to discuss options. 
  • 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.

Absences: University-Sponsored Activities

The instructor of a student participating in a University-sponsored activity is sent a statement, usually by email, from the UI official in charge of the event before the absence occurs; this statement will include the specific date and time that the student will miss class. In these cases, students should be given extra time to submit assignments and be allowed to make up any missed exams. 

Activities sponsored 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, and jury duty.

Activities related to employment, internships, fraternities or sororities, or volunteer activities are not considered University-sponsored 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 off-cycle courses and changes authorized by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, all CLAS final exams or assessments must be given during this week and 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.