Published by Jason Howard
It’s universally understood that regulatory environments are struggling to keep pace with the rapid rate of technological change. From social media to eCigarettes, by the time new laws are approved the product has evolved again.
However, the inverse is also true: when regulations do change, underlying business systems need to adapt quickly to comply. Otherwise, what is perceived as ‘additional red tape’ will reduce productivity, create frustration – and increase the likelihood of manual error.
Even changes that may be perceived as ‘minor’ by Government, such as the imminent update to the ESOS (Education Services for Overseas Students) Act, can be challenging to implement. From October 1, education providers will be required to enter additional information into the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) – including the details of the individual agent employee involved in each international student enrolment.
When regulations do change, underlying business systems need to adapt quickly to comply
That may seem fair enough. More data will help the Australian government control the quality and potential risks within its growing international education sector. However, in practice, meeting this requirement may not be so simple.
More than half of Australia’s international higher ed student applications are already made through the StudyLink Connect portal – 80% of which are submitted by agents. This makes StudyLink the largest aggregator of agent-generated applications into the country.
We know agent businesses vary from smaller operators to large, sophisticated and often complex organisations. And in those larger businesses, a number of different people will be involved in every student application – from counselling to admissions and finance. Identifying, capturing and manually entering individual agent details – from their name and email address right down to their migration agent registration details – will be time consuming.
Adaptability has long been identified as a core competitive advantage – and never more so in today’s increasingly global, uncertain and complex environment. And that’s why legacy ERP systems are increasingly seen as a hindrance.
Fortunately, as the StudyLink platform is cloud-hosted and we operate in an agile environment, we can respond quickly. And we’re already adapting our data entry systems to make it as simple and efficient as possible for our higher education provider clients to comply with the revised ESOS Act.
In the longer term, we recognise the potential of capturing additional data on a secure portal like StudyLink. It can help institutions make more educated decisions about their agent network, and provide greater transparency between all the key players in this ecosystem: agents, education providers, international students and government.
Given the scale at which we already operate, securely sharing international student application data for more than half Australia’s universities, integrating our platform with PRISIMS would also potentially improve the process further. By automating the transfer of required data, we can reduce the risk of manual entry or double handling and save admissions teams valuable time.
ESOS Act information is used to make important, potentially life-changing decisions about whether to grant prospective international students their visa, and how to assess individual institution risk. And that means the integrity and accuracy of this data is of utmost importance.
That’s why we are keen to work with everyone in the higher education sector to capture data as efficiently and accurately as possible. The new ESOS Act requirements have certainly not taken us by surprise – and nor will future regulatory changes which, like the pace of technological change itself, are inevitable.