Student Absence Declaration

Information for students

In January 2018, the Student Declaration of Absence Form was introduced in select courses to replace sick notes for absences of three days or fewer that result in missed or late academic requirements.

The Student Declaration of Absence Form functions the same as a sick note. Your instructor makes the decision on whether they will arrange alternate coursework, tests, etc.

You must check with your instructor(s) or refer to your faculty, college, school, instructor-specific, or course-specific syllabi and guidelines, and work-integrated learning handbook policies to see if the self-declaration of absence option is available to you.

The submission of the form does not provide an automatic exemption from any academic requirements that were missed or late during an absence. Any alternate coursework arrangements for missed or late academic requirements are at the discretion of individual course instructor(s).

Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin versions of the Student Declaration of Absence Form are available for student reference only. Only the English version of the Student Declaration of Absence form will be accepted by instructors.

Please note the School of Journalism at the University of King's College has a separate Student Declaration of Absence Form.

Using the form

If you experience a short-term absence that is no longer than three consecutive days, you must:

  • Notify your instructor by phone or email prior to the academic deadline or scheduled time, and;
  • Download and complete the Student Declaration Form.
  • Submit it online through Brightspace (if this option is offered in your course), by email, or in-person within three days following your last day of absence.
  • This flowchart provides instructions on how and when to use the Student Declaration of Absence Form.

When the form doesn’t apply

  • If your instructor hasn’t authorized it for use in their course. Check with them at the start of the term!
  • Students with pre-existing accessibility plans that already allow for coursework deferrals or deadline extensions,
  • If your absence hasn’t caused a missed or late academic requirement.
  • In the Faculties of Dentistry, Medicine, the Schulich School of Law and the College of Pharmacy, which have separate regulations to cover short- and long-term absences. Students are to refer to their current academic calendars for specific regulations or policies on missed or late academic requirements.
  • The Faculty of Engineering has a separate Student Absence Reporting system. Please visit for details and to submit a request
  • If you are absent for four consecutive days or more. Instead, you should contact your instructor and refer to the long-term absence section of the academic regulation for Missed or Late Academic Requirements Due to Student Absence
  • If your absence means you are missing a final exam. Instead, you should refer to the academic regulation for Requests for an Alternative Final Examination Time.
  • If you are missing final courseworkfieldwork, co-op work terms and internships, and skill labs.
  • If this is the third time your absence is causing you to miss an academic requirement. You can submit a maximum of two separate Student Declaration of Absence forms per course during a term. (Note: Faculty, College, School, instructor or course-specific guidelines may set a lower maximum.)
  • If you have recurring short-term or long-term absences, you are strongly encouraged to meet your Faculty, Declared Major Advisor or your Faculty Program Coordinator.

More about Student Declaration of Absence Forms

Moving away from sick notes

Many health-care providers are starting to withdraw or restrict situations in which they will issue sick notes or medical certificates, as they are often unable to verify the severity of a physical or mental health condition for most short-term absences.

In 2017, Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness managed nearly 2,000 appointments just to acquire sick notes for short-term absences — the vast majority of which occurred after the illness had occurred and, thus, the clinician was unable to verify the severity of the physical or mental health condition.

The move to eliminate sick notes for short-term absences aligns Dalhousie with best practices among Canada’s U15. Nearly all of the U15 group of leading universities do not accept sick notes for short-term illnesses. Five currently have a self-reporting tool similar to the one being implemented at Dalhousie.

Self‐declaration of short‐term absences strengthens student accountability and communication with instructors regarding missed or late academic requirements. It empowers students by instilling a sense of trust that they will act ethically and in accordance with academic responsibility and personal integrity for their absences.

Consultations & approvals

This change is the result of a two-year consultation and research process that included all Faculty Councils, the Deans Council, the DSU executive and many more groups across the university.

This process was piloted with Dal’s Faculty of Computer Science during the fall/winter terms of 2016-17. There were no increases in absences and no complaints received from faculty.

Other universities who have implemented a self-reporting process have not seen a significant increase in reported short-term absences.

The policy regarding self-declaration of short-term absences was approved by the Dalhousie Senate on September 25, 2017, and was implemented in January 2018.

Tracking and sharing of forms

  • Forms will only be used for administrative purposes within Dalhousie;
  • Forms will be kept for a minimum of one year from the date a Faculty member or instructor makes a decision based on the form, after which they will be securely destroyed;
  • Forms may be shared with other instructors, Faculty members, and Faculty administrators within a student’s Faculty, College or School to maximize support of students in successful completion of academic requirements;
  • Forms fall under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Act.