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November 22, 2011 / Mark Arts

The impact of increased student mobility on Student Information Systems

itelligence it.education

The introduction of the bachelor master structure in Europe (as a result of the Bologna treaty) and the need for international students (for financial reasons) leads to increased student mobility.

This applies to students who choose to complete their bachelor and master degrees in two different institutions and to increased international mobility.

In the past the main type of international students was exchange students participating in Erasmus exchange programs. Surely this type of mobility should be supported by a Student Information System but it is not the group of students which this post is about.

Full time international students’ mobility

 This post deals with international student mobility for full time students. European universities and colleges see increased numbers of international applicants. For example at Maastricht University more than 50% of all applicants are from abroad. This requires administrative processes and systems that support the admission process. UCAS in the UK concluded that the current system in theUK “is complex, lacks transparency for many applicants and is inefficient and cumbersome”.

Students becoming more consumer-aware

In the EU there are three types of applicants: from the same country as the institution, from other EU countries or from outside the EU. This makes the admission processes and workflow far more complicated than they were in the past. Applicants demand a quick and clear admission process and apply to many different institutions. It is important for institutions to admit or deny applicants as quickly as possible. Students are now becoming more consumer-aware, and the survey (Degrees of Change, carried out by Berkshire Consultancy) suggests that universities have still to adjust to the idea of students as customers. Increased financial pressures on universities and colleges lead to reduced budgets for support processes… “Nine out of 10 deputy vice chancellors in the UK expected to see closures in the higher education system in the next 10 years.” Not only in the EU but also in the US and Asia “the fees domestic students pay are capped, as are government contributions made on their behalf. With international students, universities can name their price.”

Higher numbers of international applicants with complicated admission procedures vs. budget cuts for support staff and departments

When selecting a Student Information System (or Student records system) CIOs and other decision makers have evaluate both sides: Higher numbers of international applicants with complicated admission procedures vs. budget cuts for support staff and departments.  The new system has to support the application processes and reduce the effort at the same time while also meeting high student expectations.

5 things to consider when selecting a Student Information Systems

When selecting a Student Information Systems make sure to consider these five recommendations:

  1. Does the system support all types of students and all types of programs? Modern integrated systems support all types and therefore reduce the need for separate systems.
  2. Do the processes (speed and complexity) match student expectations? This is more related to your processes than systems…
  3. Is the online application form combined with online submission of documents?
  4. Is the workflow to evaluate applications flexible enough to accommodate the wide variety of steps that have to be taken? i.e. visa requirements, diploma evaluation, housing, scholarships, etc.
  5. Is the financial process fully integrated? E.g. online payments, deposits, government guarantees for international students, etc.

Specialized systems exist for all types of students and programs; make sure to consider the integrated process as a whole.

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