At some point all systems need reviewing to see if they're fit for purpose, and our student information system is no exception. Written in-house based on Oracle, we went live with it in 1996, and it has continued to grow and develop. However, we are finding it hard to keep up with the development work needed - especially statutory things and government initiatives. The KIS, HEAR, UKBA have all taken significant amounts of our valuable developer time, as well as making required changes to HESA and UCAS. Time which we would much rather be spent on developing the system and improving our services to students.
So, we have a number of options ranging from do nothing, to putting in a package solution, or hugely increasing our developer resource to rewrite our current system in modern technology and continue to develop it. At the moment we're developing a vision of what we want our system to be - not just what do we have now, but what sort of system do we need for the future.For example, one that is flexible, supports internationalisation, is mobile and provides good self service facilities to students.
At the moment we're on a fact finding mission, and the last couple of days have been spent visiting two other institutions to look at how they have implemented different packages. A lot of time on trains (both were in Scotland and we visited 7 different railway stations!), but immensely useful, and I'm grateful to everyone who gave up their time to talk to us. We're very aware that we don't want to base our decision just on technical issues, although they are important, but what we want to do is choose something that our users feel satisfies all of their needs, so we took representatives from our main student areas and academic departments as well. Only a couple more visits, and we 'll be looking to make some recommendations by May. Whatever the outcome, and whatever we do, a big project is on its way!