I think this would be a good way of getting students in the habit of addressing issues individually. Each part of the assignment could be broken down into issues that can be "checked off" as they are completed.
This also would allow a single starter repo to be used for several mini-projects. In our case,
nyan and a bunch of other tiny scripts that do not really warrant their own assignments (which would really, really fill the organization with hundreds of repos instead of just the one per student.)
In fact, a generic way to add the same set of issues (perhaps from a JSON file) to a number of repos would be amazing. I wonder if a commandline utility making use of the GitHub API would accomplish this?