Background and Aim
St Mary’s had been using its current Student Records system (SRS) called QL since 2005. The system was reaching end of life and thus support for it from the vendor (Unit 4) was expected to decline.
St Mary’s had been intending to replace its SRS for a number of years culminating in an Invitation to Tender being issued in January 2015 to a number of providers. Tender submissions were received by both Tribal and Capita in March of that year followed by on-site supplier demonstrations and scoring of the respective tenders. However, the procurement process did not proceed at that time.
Meanwhile, the SRS was old, cumbersome and time-consuming to adapt to emerging institutional requirements. In addition, the system had been extensively bespoked and there was one individual in the organisation who understood it sufficiently to make requested changes. The system was holding the university back from a number of much needed functional and efficiency improvements in student administration processes, data quality, reporting and analytics.
Therefore, a project was (re)initiated in 2017 to look at replacing the SRS.
Solution & Procurement
Initially the project took a dual approach to (i) evaluate the latest Unit 4 product – Unit 4 Student Management (U4SM) and (ii) Document St Mary’s SRS User Requirements, modelling the end-to-end student journey in order to understand the scope and resources required for a comprehensive implementation. As a result, it was decided to explore all SRS solutions.
Procurement options were identified as (a) competitive ITT using the APUC framework or (b) award to the number 1 ranked supplier (Tribal – SITS).
In June 2018 the decision to award the contract to Tribal was made by SMT & FRC and Board of Governors and funding approved. On 15th November 2018 a contract was signed with Tribal.
St Mary's has implemented a new Student Record System that supports the applicant and student lifecycle. The new system is market leader SITS (Strategic Information Technology Systems), also known as SITS E:Vision, from Tribal (also known as SITS E:Vision). The system is specifically designed for higher education providers to manage and improve every aspect of the student journey.
The project was delivered in a number of phases and releases as follows:
- Phase 1 (Admissions) went live on 21st October 2019 for direct applications and 22nd October for UCAS applications. All prospective students now have access to an Applicant Portal where they can manage their application to St Mary's. Agents are able to apply on behalf of the students they represent via the Agent Portal.
- Phase 2 Release 1 ((student enrolment, finance, and statutory reporting) was implemented on 5th August 2020.
- Release 2 (Exam scheduling, Assessment & Progression, Marks Schemes, Marks Entry and Automated compensation) was implemented on27th November 2020.
- Release 3 (Awards, Certificates, Transcripts and Graduation) was implemented on 27th November 2020.
- Release 4 (SITS upgrade from v9.7 to v9.9, plus Placements and PG Research) was implemented on the 14th and 17th December 2020.
- Release 5 (Curriculum Management) went live on 21st January 2021.
- Release 6 (Short Courses) was implemented on 18th February 2021.
Data was migrated from QL to SITS in a series of incremental waves aligned to the implementation of SITS functionality releases (as above) and/or use thereof as part of the annual business cycle.
The same approach was adopted for integrating SITS with various St Mary’s systems including: CRM, Active Directory (Staff then Students), ABYASSA, Celcat (Timetabling), Open Accounts, Accommodation (Students), Moodle, DDS (Students), ACT –Security, Talis, VSmart, Tableau, Target Connect, Attendance Monitoring and Personal Tutor Dashboard (SEAtS).
The SRS Project has closed as the delivery of the SITS minimal viable product (MVP) is now completed.
A SITS User Group has been established which will be responsible for reviewing and prioritising new and ongoing SITS issues and developments.
Additional SITS functionality and improvements will be delivered as part of a SITS improvement plan, a Capital Bid Budget for which has been submitted for the 2021/22 planning round.