Studying at university can be very different from school, sixth form or college. Your term time will be different and as will your classes. Whether attendance is mandatory or not will also vary. You classes will be divided into lectures and seminars. You will also have study sessions and inductions each year. Failure to attend mandatory sessions could have implications on your progression towards your degree so it is important to understand what is mandatory and what is not.
Attendance for your main classes – seminars and lectures – is mandatory. As you approach your exams or assignment deadlines, some lecturers may decide to make some sessions drop in sessions meaning attendance is not compulsory. Likewise, induction days and some study workshops may be mandatory however, this will likely depend on your individual institution.
To get more of an understanding about university attendance and why it is so important, continue to read through the rest of this article.
Table of Contents
Do universities care about attendance?
Most universities do care about attendance. Universities generally associate good attendance with good academic performance and therefore, strongly encourage students to attend all of their seminars and lectures.
Despite this, universities deem the quality of your work and your grades most important over your attendance. Therefore, as long as you are achieving high grades, they may show less concern over your attendance compared to someone who is achieving low grades.
Many universities will have an attendance threshold by which students must reach. Likewise, module tutors may use a register to log and monitor the attendance of students each seminar and lecture.
If you are applying to a university and want to know whether your GCSE or A-Level attendance is important, check out this helpful Think Student article.
Is attendance important at university?
Yes. Your attendance at university is quite important. Universities believe that the better your attendance, the better your academic performance will be. This is because you will have accessed all the information given to you in lectures and seminars.
Having a good attendance demonstrated your commitment to your course and shows you are a dedicated student. Having a poor attendance however, means you may have missed important information in your taught sessions.
Therefore, you may have gaps in your notes which could cause you to underperform in your exams, coursework or assignments. This is especially the case in a subject like English.
Putting academic reasons aside, attending your lectures and seminars will enable you to socialise with people on your course. It will also offer a distraction if you are suffering with homesickness.
Why is attendance so important?
There are many reasons why attending your mandatory classes at university is important.
Firstly, it is important you attend your classes for academic reasons. Most of your notes will come from your discussions in seminars and listening to your module tutors during lectures.
Therefore, by not attending you will miss any vital information regarding your assignment deadlines or exams for example.
Also, attending your classes means you are in a different environment. You will be able to socialise with others on your course which may also help with any homesickness.
Within your classes, you will have the opportunity to ask anything and get support with your work, a lot of which will be independent work. Therefore, this contact time with your course group and lecturers is crucial.
Check out this helpful Prospects article about getting the most out of lectures and seminars.
What happens if your attendance is below 80% at university?
Universities generally expect your attendance to be above 80%. If your attendance drops below 70%, this is usually when universities become concerned.
At some universities, if your attendance drops below 70%, you may be sent an email raising concerns. This may regard just one module or your course as a whole.
Alternatively, if your attendance drops to about 70% or less, you may be called in for a meeting. This would be with your course leader, the relevant module tutors and your personal academic tutor. During the meeting, you will discuss your attendance and the impact it is having or may have on your assignments, coursework or examinations.
If your attendance is severely low, some universities hold he right to terminate your registration on the course, meaning you can no longer continue to study at the university. You can find this information in your universities attendance policy.
Reasons why your university attendance may be low
There are many reasons why students have low attendance.
Firstly, there are medical reasons such as an illness or health care appointments. It is important that you inform your university if you have any medical conditions that could impact on your study and attendance in class. They will then be able to support you appropriately.
Another reason is for studying. Many students may choose to miss a class around the time of their assignment deadlines or when approaching an examination. Although this is not advised or encouraged by universities, some students decide to use the time for independent work or revision.
Some universities ask students to sign an academic register at the beginning of each class. Therefore, if you forget to sign this, you will be marked down as absent. If this happens, you should get in touch with your lecturer as they may change this.
Finally, students may miss classes because of poor mental health such as anxiety. Moving to university is a big step and therefore, you may be struggling with homesickness or have anxiety from being in lecture halls. If this is the case, you should speak to your university as they will have the relevant support staff to help.
It is important to inform your lecturers of any absent in advance if possible or as soon after you missed the class as you can. Some universities will give you a week after the absent to log it with your lecturers and possibly the have it approved.
Where to get support with your university attendance?
If you need support with your attendance, your first point of call should be your personal academic tutor. You are usually assigned a tutor in your first year who will continue to support you throughout your course.
Your academic tutor will support you with all areas of your study including your attendance. They will also be able to direct you to further support staff such as a counsellor.
Next, you should speak to your lecturers. This includes your module tutor if your attendance is low in a specific module, or your course leader if your attendance is low across your entire course.
All universities will have specialist support staff. You will be able to access these professionals independently or through your personal academic tutor free of charge. They can help with your mental health, homesickness, disabilities or medical conditions, financial issues or general issues such as timetabling or how to be more organised.
For more information on the support you can access as an undergraduate student, check out this helpful UCAS article.
Attendance is important but sometimes a low attendance is unavoidable. Many students find that their attendance is lowest in their first year. This is mainly due to the struggles of adjusting to university, such as dealing with homesickness and anxiety. However, universities understand this and have lots of support available for students. Therefore, do not struggle in silence. Talk to your lecturers and the support staff available at your university.