Setting the Scene: 

Self-certification is the process by which students record their absence from a mandatory class and gives their reason for this absence. An academic then approves the absence if appropriate.

There were a number of problems with the original self-certification process:

  • Manual process with material variously emailed, scanned, printed, and filed
  • No golden copy of a completed and approved self-certification form
  • Incomplete and inaccurate forms submitted
  • Records incomplete and held in a number of repositories
  • Time consuming at both Registry and School level
  • Inconsistent process across the Schools
  • Significant backlogs of certifications commonplace
  • Reporting and monitoring was after the event

At the time of this project, approximately 350 self-certifications were lodged per academic week. Around 10% were rejected as incomplete or the student, if emailing the form, had either omitted to attach the form to their email or the attachment could not be opened.



The overall objective was to design a self-certification process that was significantly more efficient and effective for students and staff

Specifically, the team was charged to:

  • Automate the process (if appropriate)
  • Eliminate the potential for backlogs to develop
  • Deliver instantaneous reporting and monitoring
  • Create a consistent process across all Schools
  • Free up staff resources


What we did: 

The Lean Team meet, at a series of meetings, with all School administration staff involved with self-certification, together with representatives of Registry and Student Support Services. A small number of academics were interviewed and the views of Deans and various Vice-Principals were also sought. The later in regard, in particular, to the need for self-certification in the first place.

After creating a current state process map, we worked with the staff to develop a new, more lean, process which was then implemented.

High-level current state process maps showing variation across the Schools



High-level map of proposed new process

Self Certs (part 2) Absence Reporting



Process Improvements

The self-certification form is now digital and available on the intranet, and links with other University systems

Quantitative Benefits

An estimated 5 FTE (~£124,000) was freed up annually

Qualitative Benefits

Real-time monitoring of student absence by relevant staff across the University, which means prompt intervention/assistance where required

Consistency of the process across all schools