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16/05/2013. Per Zettervall Randy Bruce Igor Drvodelić Geir Andersen Elaine Wenn. System Modernization. Agenda. 10.45-11.45 Presentations from Sweden (Swedish Council for Higher Education) Canada ( BCCampus ) Croatia (Agency for Science and Higher Education) Norway ( Samordna Opptak )

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system modernization

Per Zettervall

Randy Bruce

Igor Drvodelić

Geir Andersen

Elaine Wenn

System Modernization

System modernization

  • 10.45-11.45 Presentations from
    • Sweden (Swedish Council for Higher Education)
    • Canada (BCCampus)
    • Croatia (Agency for Science and Higher Education)
    • Norway (SamordnaOpptak)
    • Australia (Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre)
    • Oman (HigherEducationAdmissionCentre)
  • 11.45-12.10 Discussions in smaller groups
  • 12.10-12.30 Round-up, conclusions

System modernization

the presentations and topics
The presentations and topics
  • Ca 10 min presentation from each of the contributing orginizations
  • Example of topics:
    • How much is invested every year in your system?
    • What issues/functionality are you focusing on developing now and in the future?
    • With which organizations/companies etc do you exchange data? In which format?
    • Is the demand for exchanging data, tighter integration etc increasing? I f so, who is pushing this development forward?
    • Do laws and regulations in your country support data exchange with others?
    • How do you handle Service Operations, are you thinking about moving data to the cloud?

System modernization

more topics
More topics….
  • Do you provide services to exchange transcripts (and/or documents such as e-portfolios)?
  • Do you provide convenient ways to grant access ( e g high school students applying in February, but their final transcrips will not be available until July.
  • Are you planning/offering a service for applicants to attach scanned images /documents to accompany their application? i. e. a document repository.

System modernization

sweden and nya
Sweden and NyA

A very short introduction to the swedish admission system and to the hottest topics of today

System modernization

the system at a glance
The system at a glance
  • NyA– the National Admission System
  • Developed by Swedish universities and university colleges in cooperation with UHR
  • Used spring term 2007 for the first time
  • Now used by 36 universities and university colleges on a contract basis with UHR
  • Used for admission to study programmesand courses at first and second cycle level (bachelor’s and master’s level)
  • The fee for each HEI is based on the amount of applicants that they have

System modernization

the application process and transcripts
The Application process and transcripts
  • Application deadline for the autumn term: 15th of April
  • High School transcripts available in June
    • Transcripts/data are uploaded by the schools and we load them into the admission system
  • 1st selection round takes place in (early) July
    • Applicants need to answer by 31st of July
  • 2nd selection round takes place in August
  • Between 15th of April and June, admission officers handle applicants with older transcripts, foreign transcripts etc
  • Since all newer high school transcripts are handled automatically, evaluated automatically etc, there is enough time

System modernization

  • Yearly, about 1,8 million € (2.2 million $) spent on further development, new functionality
  • About 4 million € (5.1 million $) spent on maintaining the system
  • About 1,6 million € (2.1 million $) spent on Service Operations
  • …a lot of money but costs are shared between HEI…
  • …complex regulations = a complex and expensive system…
  • …covers virtually all kinds of admissions (single subject courses, study programmes, summer terms, admission to higher levels etc )

System modernization

what s on the table right now
What´s on the table right now?
  • A brand new national student records system, Ladok3, is being developed right now and discussions are ongoing what functionality should be in which system.
  • The need for (mostly foreign) applicants to be able to attach scanned documents to their application.
  • Improvements of the application web site regarding accessibility
  • New system/database for High School certificates
  • Automated tests, improved logging
  • System stability issues
  • New regulations, more complexity added

System modernization

data exchange
Data exchange

School Qualifications database

Student Records System

Scholastic Aptitude Test

Postal Service

Tax Agency

Study Support

Student Records System etc

Admission System

Statistics Sweden

System modernization

the law problems and possibilities
The law, problems and possibilities
  • The Admission system has its own law regarding what information can be shared with others, with whom it might be shared and for what purposes
  • The above can be changed by the government, but it takes time
  • Privacy Protection Law requires that applicants approves that their information can be handled electronically

System modernization

service operations and the cloud
Service operations and “The cloud”
  • Service Operations are outsourced to CGI
  • We are using “cloud components” like Google Maps, some text parts in the CMS is handled as a cloud service.
  • However, we are moving away from cloud solutions because:
    • We cannot stress test solutions like Google Maps
    • Support issues, problems needs to be addressed quickly
    • It is essential to have full control
  • But then again, regarding Service Operations, it is of course possible that our provider has such services “behind their walls”

System modernization

systems modernization


Systems Modernization
  • IAAO 2013
  • Randy Bruce
functions under development consideration
Functions under development/consideration
  • Transcript exchange
  • BC Post-secondary
  • BC High School
  • Pan-Canadian/USA
  • Federated Identity
  • Personal data exchange
  • BC School records
  • BC Financial assistance
  • Supplementary documents
  • Increased reporting
  • Generally, ApplyBC is the driver of change
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Incremental improvement
  • Herding cats
  • Keep at it
  • 2 years to add cell phone #s
  • Software release approach
  • Hard to maintain standardization
agency for science and higher education

Agency for Science and Higher Education

Flexible web application design

  • Current state
  • Challenges
  • Proposed design
  • Software stack
  • Features
  • Data interchange
current state
Current state
  • Most of our budget (~130.000 €) is spent on system maintenance
  • Changes can be done only by the outsourcing company that developed the system (source code)
  • Changes required by HEI often cannot be implemented fast enough
  • The system is shared with the organization responsible for the national high school leaving examination
  • We are not able to monitor all changes in the system
  • We are not sure if the statisticalreports are completely correct
f eatures we want to change
Featureswe want to change
  • Temporary rankings – candidates can see ranking for every study program from the start of theapplication process
  • Applications are possible from December to July for thefirst round of theenrollment – because high school final exams and study programs are applied to simultaneously
  • Sending user information by SMS
  • The high schoolelectronic identity is used for authentication and authorization
  • We are in theprocess of implementing applications to masterprograms
  • Shared nature of the system makes changes difficult
  • Small budget
  • Developmentof thenew system in-house
  • Applications have to adapt to HEI’s needs
  • Changes can happen between two enrollment turns
  • Implementation deadline can be shorter then 1 year
proposed design
Proposed design
  • Problems
    • Each page represents only the current state
    • Changes require page refreshing or synchronization (AJAX)
    • Problems with maintaing an active session
    • Heavy load on server
  • Design based on desktop interfaces
  • Separation of features into applications
software stack
Software stack
  • Separation of layers
    • Presentation
    • Application logic
    • Database
  • Abstract layers in between
    • Separate internal structure from interface
  • Individual features are organized into „applications”
  • Adding new features means adding new „applications”
  • Any change made in component A does not effect component B (feature decoupling)
  • Easy access control granulation(users are given access only to the features they require)
data interchange
Data interchange
  • All communication between layers conducted through JavaScript Object Notation


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the norwegian ucas

The Norwegian UCAS

System improvement

technical debt
Technical debt
  • The NUCAS IT-system has been developed over a period of nearly 20 years by different developers using partly different programming languages, different and partly insufficient standards of documentation, different philosophies, and with changing demands from central authorities and lawmakers.
  • The result has been a well functioning system. But it has reached its performance peak, and is now very costly and nerve-wrecking to modify. We do not dare to feed it any more new features.
so 3 0
SO 3.0
  • To meet this challenge we will over a period of three years get extra funding (5 million USD in total) from the government, and add to this by internal reallocations of resources, to lay the foundations for a better system.
  • Change in basic architecture
  • Modification of the data model
  • New applications portal
  • New access control system
  • New documentation system
  • Deciding which old applications to keep
  • Integration with existing system (?)

Insert title here

Insert subtitle here

Systems Modernisation

Elaine Wenn

Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre

May 2013

  • Unincorporated association acting as an agency for its member institutions
  • Administers applications and offers on behalf of Victorian tertiary institutions
  • Calculates the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) for Year 12 school leavers (47,000)
from simple beginnings
From simple beginnings ....
  • Established in 1966 as a universities admissions committee with two tasks
    • A single application process for the 3 universities
    • Provide a common scoring formula for Year 12 results
To .....
  • 65 institutions
    • 12 universities
    • 12 TAFE institutions (training and further education)
    • 14 private providers
    • 14 associate institutions
    • 3000 courses
    • Certificate/Diploma/Degree
    • 83,000 applicants
    • Year 12 (59%) and non Year 12 (41%)
... and
  • Tertiary admission tests
  • Scholarships
  • Special Entry and Access Scheme
  • Mid Year admissions
  • Information services and publications
    • Exclusively online applications and selection services
  • 120,000 registrants
evolution of systems
Evolution of systems
  • A divergent state
  • Incremental growth
  • Back office and online applications
  • Multiple “point solutions” and data sources
  • Numerous technologies platforms interfaces
  • Same data stored in multiple locations
  • Extensive use of text files for data storage
tipping point
Tipping point
  • IT systems stretched to operational limit
  • Aging hardware – high maintenance
  • Expensive licences
  • Inefficient and error prone
  • Heavy reliance on knowledge of individual IT staff
  • Systems not integrated with each other
  • Unable to meet future needs
  • Significant risk

3-tier Web Architecture


Front-Office (Internet)

HTML (“thin client”) user interface








Application Server (program logic components)



Single Database and Server OS standard

System Integration Middleware

  • Continue co-location
    • New hardware and licences
    • Additional staff dedicated to database/systems administration
  • Outsource IT infrastructure and management
    • Easier to budget, hardware does not suffer aging
    • No risk in loss of expertise
    • Higher set up costs
    • Less “control” by VTAC
    • Vendor stability/continuity
  • Chose ‘cloud’ solution which
    • Reduced the number of specialty licenses
    • Services able to be scaled both up and down
    • Met Australian security of data requirements
    • Provided state of the art disaster recovery solution
    • Allowed trialing with a testing environment first
    • Enabled concurrent redevelopment of software
    • Was affordable
current solution
Current solution
  • Red Hat enterprise Linux on virtual servers
    • Web tier
    • Application tier
  • MySQL cluster DB on physical servers
  • Multi-level firewall and DOS protection
  • NAS and SAN storage
  • Backup daily/weekly/monthly
  • DR environment in Sydney (hot backup)
  • Testing environment scaled ver of production
  • Timing of delivery
  • Getting accustomed to lack of direct control
  • Enforcing new programming architecture
  • Integration of redeveloped and legacy code
  • Continuing federated systems until port complete
  • Synchronising new and old systems
  • Turning off old systems
other modernisations
Other modernisations
  • Use of social media
  • Apps and mobile devices, tablets
  • Shift from hardcopy publication of course information to online
  • Electronic submission of applicant documentation?
  • Electronic results transfer – beyond Australia?