Student blog by Emma Smith, Arts, English and Languages Student
Hello! My name is Emma. I’m a second year student in Arts, English and Languages and I’m here to take you through the new Exceptional Circumstances process.
It’s getting to that time of year again when exams and deadlines are looming, so being aware of all the info might seem overwhelming at first but it will definitely help you out! Even if you don’t think you will need it now, being aware of the process and how it has changed is super important.
1. The Assessment Hub
So, the Assessment Hub is pretty much as it says on the tin, a ‘hub’ or place you can go with everything you might need to know about assessments. Guidelines for Exceptional Circumstances are found here too.
The Assessment Hub directs you to the portal which is where you actually need to submit your Exceptional Circumstances. To get to the Assessment Hub use this link.
2. The New Portal
Previously, a form was filled out and then sent to a designated email address. In the case of flexibility with deadlines agreements, an email was sent to the module convenor. I’ve done both of these before and many of you may have at some point too.
Now, everything has been put into one handy portal for you to use. The portal itself is easy enough to find; it should be linked on the assignments tab of your Canvas page, but you should go through the Hub to get there. It’ worth noting, the Queens Portal is the ‘service portal’, so don’t panic and think you’re in the wrong place!
3. How to Use the Portal
Before, there was only one form to fill out on which you listed all of the affected modules. Now, a new request is required for each module! So make sure you add all that are being impacted. You add each assessment or module impacted as a ‘service request’ on the portal, and must explain what type of assignment it is (exam, essay, coursework etc.), how it has been affected, and provide each relevant deadline.
4. Fit to Sit
One of the most important things to understand is Queen’s ‘Fit to Sit’ process. In simple terms, this means if you submit a piece of coursework or sit an exam, you are declaring yourself fit to do so and this cannot be changed retrospectively. In other words, if something is affecting your ability to sit an exam or complete course work, an Exceptional Circumstances form should be completed on the portal, at least 3 days before the deadline, and no work submitted.
5. The Rules
Now, while the process has changed, the ‘rules’ haven’t. You can still self-certify for up to 7 days (meaning you don’t need a doctor’s note or other evidence – just explain the situation on the form). Then, if you require longer to complete or need to defer the assignment, you should submit the appropriate evidence (this will have to be approved).
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the guidelines of what is considered Exceptional Circumstances. Not everything is considered ‘exceptional’.
6. Long Term Conditions
If you suffer from a long term condition like: a specific learning difficulty, a chronic illness, or a mental health condition; this process will be slightly different for you.
If you have an Individual Student Support Arrangement (ISSA) for any of the above, you cannot use Exceptional Circumstances because of the impact of the conditions which your ISSA covers.
However, if you have ‘flexibility with deadlines’ as part of your ISSA, the portal allows you to make a ‘Disability and Wellbeing request’. This may appear confusing and convoluted on first sight, but the Portal will prompt you with questions.
Every module and each assignment within that module all have to be logged separately to ensure you add absolutely everything.
Top Tip: make sure you ‘save and continue’ after every step. This might seem obvious, but you may think you have completed everything when in fact the request hasn’t actually been submitted. You don’t want to have to go back and do everything again.
One last thing worth saying; if you do have a long term health condition, disability or specific learning difficulty, and have not disclosed this to anyone in the University, please don’t suffer in silence! I didn’t even know that ISSAs existed but they can provide support and reasonable adjustments to meet individual needs and will help you to achieve at your full potential.