Information Services

Helping hand for students: Improvements to coursework Extensions and Special Circumstances system

Even more enhancements have been added to the University of Edinburgh’s Extensions and Special Circumstances (ESC) system to support students with their coursework assignments.

Calendar with date circled
Enhancements to the ESC system will support students with their coursework

The changes will make it easier for students to apply, track and receive confirmation for assignment due date extensions, and will also save time for ESC Team and Student Disability Service staff. 

This has been carried out as part of a process of continuous improvements to the ESC service through collaborations between teams across the University. 

Faten Adam, ESC service owner, said: "The improvements delivered since launch have had a positive impact on ESC’s processes - saving us time that could be spent processing applications and engaging with schools and students to provide information on the application process." 

 The latest improvements come after a broad scale ESC project in 2021, which delivered: 

  • Ability for the ESC team to create and edit cases on behalf of students 

  • "Notes" functions for schools and the ESC team 

  • Ability to bulk remove old cases, ensuring the University meets GDPR requirements 

  • Training to help University Schools align with ESC systems 

Following the initial project’s closure, discussions between the project team and board about lessons learned were combined with 110 responses to a student survey and individual student feedback interviews to inform further enhancements to be completed during the 2021/22 academic year. 

These have now been delivered and have introduced a host of new tools and benefits which are creating better user experiences for students. 

Enhancements and bug fixes were delivered as continuous improvements incrementally over 13 releases. 

The latest primary development is the new Extra Time Adjustment (ETA) tool which, together with its guidance information, was developed in collaboration with students, the Student Disability Service and Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA). 

The ETA tool allows students with additional learning needs to apply for extra time, if necessary, for their assessments and replaces the previous need to submit a web form to the ESC team for approval. 

Immediate confirmation of new due date(s) is now available to students through this new tool, instead of the two-day turnaround time built-in to the old system. 

This tool also enables time saving for the ESC team and Student Disability Service, as well as more efficient reporting for schools. 

A new notifications system for students has also been created. This allows for better tracking of extension applications’ progress and provides students with useful advice on next steps, while protecting personal data. 

Support for the ESC service has also been bolstered to help it manage peak periods after the number of applications grew to exceed initial predictions.  

The ESC Team has been expanded considerably with new fixed and temporary staff brought in to deal with the increasing volume of applications, and the core team are being given continual training. 

To ensure the ESC service continues to operate effectively, resources for the ESC Team will continue to be reviewed and recommendations for future developments from analysis of consultations with the vast majority of UoE Schools and Deaneries are being collated.