Enhancing Academic Accommodations with the new Declaration of absence form

Information Technology
Digital campus transformation plan
Two people's hands over a form and holding a pen
On September 8, 2023, the new Declaration of absence form was launched.

This new solution, based on the existing Academic Accommodations portal (Ventus), was developed to allow students to declare an absence from an evaluation (quiz, assignment, midterm, exam) and provide supporting documentation, as necessary.  

While this initiative aimed to help students, it also supported professors and faculties by:  

  • Increasing visibility into student requests to better support them in times of need and to ensure students complete their course requirements.  

  • Standardizing and streamlining the notification and review process, especially between faculties with different workflows.  

  • Reducing the administrative burden related to tracking current and prior requests.  

While the project appeared to have a straightforward core concept, it posed a significant challenge due to an extremely tight timeline of just four months. This constraint provided limited flexibility for accomplishing several critical project phases, such as final requirement gathering, obtaining necessary approvals, solution development, testing, and the production launch, all of which needed to be completed by September 2023. Furthermore, the complexity was amplified by variations in declaration notification and approval workflows at various organizational levels. 

Enhancing the student experience  

The introduction of the centralized online Declaration of Absence form represents a significant advancement in enhancing the student experience and aligning with changes to Academic Regulation A-8.6 and all pillars from the Digital Campus Transformation Plan (DCTP). 

This form embodies the principle of agility (DCTP Agile 3.5) by allowing students to easily declare absences from evaluations, promoting flexibility and responsive academic accommodations. It contributes to optimizing the IT ecosystem and digital student learning experience (DCTP Connect 3.5), ensuring seamless access to resources and fostering a connected and streamlined learning environment. Moreover, it enhances engagement with students, professors, and employees during business-led technology projects (DCTP Connect 3.6), promoting collaboration, understanding, and better project outcomes. Additionally, by capturing and organizing absence data, this form plays a pivotal role in developing a framework and platform for data integration across the institution (DCTP Impact 1.1), facilitating operational and strategic decision-making. In line with sustainability goals, it automates, standardizes, and simplifies service delivery processes (ITSM) (DCTP Sustain 1.4), retiring faculty-specific forms to reduce complexity and enhance efficiency. In essence, the new Declaration of Absence form embodies the DCTP pillars, making our institution more agile, connected, impactful, and sustainable while enhancing the overall student experience. 

The successful completion of this project can be attributed to the contributions of key individuals, including Véronic Tardif (University experience Manager), Zachary Read (project lead) and Alain St-Amant (project sponsor). Additionally, the project's achievements were made possible by the dedication and collaborative efforts of numerous employees across various faculties and services, with a special mention to Lee-Anne Hupé (operation processes analyst), Louis-Philippe Basque (Talisma), as well as programmer analysts Rodrigo Moura and Nabil Slimani. Let’s also not forget the IT Security team, IT Architecture team, and the Access to Information and Privacy Office (AIPO), who made this project possible.     

Véronic Tardif profile picture

“This project gave students easy access to a single form, regardless of their faculty. It's a huge improvement, and the IT team achieved it in record time - what a job!”

Véronic Tardif

— Manager, University experience