A seamless student journey benefits both students and staff, and has a significant impact on the overall success of the academic institution.
In our latest article, we’ll explore the importance of an integrated Student Information System (SIS), and how it can help nurture synergy between admissions, marking and academic teams in universities.
Admissions and marketing teams in higher education institutions are usually who prospective students interact with first. These are the departments who deal with enquiries, process and evaluate applications, and help prospective students to navigate the application and enrollment processes.
Marking and admissions teams gather and store data and documentation relating to a student’s academic journey, from transcripts and test scores to personal statements and references. They also garner information about students’ interests, academic goals and how they engage with the recruitment process.
Student data is used to assess course eligibility and craft effective and personalised application journeys for individuals.
A student’s academic journey begins after enrollment, when academics and programme management teams ensure that individuals get the support they require throughout their time at the institution.
Programme management and administrative staff manage logistical aspects such as academic record keeping and scheduling. They also manage student registrations and academic policies.
Without a secure and integrated SIS, handing over tasks from admissions and marketing to academics and programme managers can come with challenges. There is the risk of data loss, which can jeopardise data privacy for individuals.
What’s more, miscommunication can arise when disparate systems don’t talk to each other, which can have an adverse impact on the student experience. A seamless handover, on the other hand, can provide students with a positive start to their studies and ensure a smooth allocation of crucial resources such as accommodation and financial aid.
An SIS that is both secure and integrated acts as a bridge between admissions, marketing, academics and programmes managers because it facilitates effective data sharing and communication.
In other words, it has the power to dismantle silos and enable collaboration. Let’s take a closer look at the seven primary benefits of an integrated SIS:
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1. Data continuity
An integrated SIS will centralise data, acting as a single source of information that multiple teams can access.
It can also act as the hub for all student data, from academic records and attendance to information pertaining to extracurricular activities. By centralising data in this way, the risk of duplication, inconsistencies and data loss is minimised.
Data updates are made in real-time, ensuring that everyone has up-to-date information.
An integrated SIS should also be able to integrate with other systems a university uses, including its Learning Management System (LMS), financial system and communication platforms, thus significantly improving data flow.
2. Personalised communication
Again, an integrated SIS serves as a single point of communication for staff, students and other stakeholders, enabling everyone to access and share important information.
The SIS will also use data analytics to personalise communication for students. For instance, it can send customised emails to students based on their programme, academic performance, attendance, and a range of other variables.
Real-time updates relating to events and deadlines can also be facilitated through the SIS, with students receiving automated notifications via email, SMS or however else they have opted to receive communication. Personalisation enhances the student experience and takes some pressure off staff who can focus on other tasks.
3. Efficient onboarding and enrollment
An integrated SIS can facilitate the enrollment process, minimising paperwork and lengthy queues. Enrollment documents can be stored digitally, which makes them easier to verify and also reduces the risk of documents getting lost. Payment gateways can also integrate with the SIS, making it easier for students to pay tuition and enrollment fees.
4. Streamlined financial aid management
The financial aid process can be arduous if facilitated manually, however an integrated SIS can automate the process. Students can apply online and the system automatically assesses their eligibility according to predefined criteria.
Students will also be able to track their financial aid applications and other updates online via the SIS. Many SIS systems can integrate with government databases and specific financial aid management systems too.
5. Personalised learning
Personalised learning can be supported by an institution’s integrated SIS. An SIS can build a profile for each student that includes not only their contact information and programme of study, but their performance data and learning preferences.
This information helps staff gain a better understanding of each student’s needs and motivations, allowing them to deliver personalised learning plans that resonate with students and improve outcomes.
A SIS can act as an early warning when it comes to poor attendance or attainment, with staff quickly able to identify students requiring intervention and who might be at risk of dropping out. Once an intervention has taken place, the SIS can track how effective it was, helping educators to improve their strategy and approach.
In terms of student retention, an SIS can also help students to plan and select the ‘best fit’ modules for their academic journey.
6. Data driven decision making
The data analytics processing that an integrated SIS can support helps educators to spot trends and patterns in admissions, enrollment, academic performance and a range of other areas. Most have a customised dashboard that allow users to access data about specific areas relating to their roles, such as enrollment rates.
Some of today’s SIS systems have the ability to harness the power of predictive analytics in order to forecast outcomes based on historical data sets. These insights can feed into strategy and decision making, with the aim of making the student and staff experience a positive one.
Ultimately, an integrated SIS can facilitate a smooth transition from admissions to enrollment - and beyond.
It has become an essential tool in today’s fast-paced and competitive higher education landscape, often serving as the missing link between departments. When used to its full potential, an SIS has the potential to dramatically improve the student experience as well as taking the administrative burden off staff.