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Exceptional Circumstances (EC) and ISSA

Students sitting at a bench in Queen's quadrangle
Exceptional Circumstances and ISSA
Simplifying how students can apply for mitigations in exams and assessment

At Queen's University, we work hard to help our students be happy and productive, but sometimes they can experience serious personal difficulties which affect their studies and assessments.

Project Overview

At Queen's University we work hard to help our students be happy and productive, but sometimes they can experience serious personal difficulties which affect their studies and assessments.  While the University has had a procedure in place to assist students whose progress may be impacted by adverse circumstances, applications have increased significantly in recent years, leading to a growing administrative burden on staff.  A lack of standardisation across Schools also resulted in an inconsistent experience for students, at what could already be a stressful time for them.

In collaboration with colleagues in Education and Student Services who implemented a new exceptional circumstances procedure and Assessment Support Hub for students, the Digital Transformation Team has developed digital processes to simplify how students can apply for adjustments and mitigations.   The team engaged with over 350 staff across Faculties and Directorates throughout the project design, development, testing and launch.

Working with business partners, Codec, the project team have delivered the following innovative improvements:

    • A centralised portal that staff and students can access using their Queen’s credentials.
    • The ability for students to submit requests and upload evidence and for staff to review and approve requests online.
    • Automated notifications updating students of the progress of their request or informing them of any actions required.
    • A dashboard providing authorised staff with real-time data.

The new processes for exceptional circumstances and ISSA-related adjustments were launched across the University in September 2023.  As well as streamlining tasks for staff and students, the new system provides a central location for handling requests, allowing students to easily upload any evidence and see the status of their application.

The project team's hard work and commitment have undoubtedly elevated our ability to serve our students and enhance their experience. Dr Giuseppe Trombino
Chair of the Exceptional Circumstances Committee for SEEECS


  • Establishing consistency to how requests for adjustments and mitigations on assessments are requested from schools.
  • Delivering a seamless experience for students providing them with access to information and support when they need it.
  • Enabling real-time analysis of exceptional circumstances requests through dashboards and reports, allowing for enhanced decision making.
  • Automated channeling of application data at each review or approval stage.


  1. Project management documentation

  2. An online portal for the submission and tracking of service requests including:
    Access via Multi-Factor Authentication
    Application form
    Self-service portal
    Progress tracker
    Integration with Qsis using APIs
  3. Handover documentation including:
    Documented processes
    User guides
    Training resources



Students can apply for exceptional circumstances or ISSA-related adjustments online via the new Queen's Portal and will receive notifications and emails updating them on the status of their application.

The new EC system will assist administrative staff in managing the substantial surge in applications witnessed over the past few years, thereby alleviating the mounting burden on them. This in turn will provide students with quicker responses in the processing of their applications, ensuring they are provided with greater certainty regarding the status of their applications.