One seamless system supports student growth

UTS uses StudyLink Connect to manage applications from submission to enrolment

When the UTS International Student Recruitment Office was advised its IT vendor would no longer support its admissions management system, it needed to quickly find another solution. That solution, now called UTS iAMS (International Admissions Management System), is based entirely on the StudyLink platform.

The team had been using StudyLink Connect to manage agent and direct applications for five years, integrating that data into its admissions system. So they asked StudyLink if it was possible to create a complete management system.

“We had already found Connect made it easier for applicants, and also easier for us to manage issues such as incomplete applications,” recalls Tze Ay, then Director – International for UTS, and now with QUT. “We knew exactly what we wanted in a complete admission system, the functionalities required, and after exploring three or four options we decided StudyLink offered the best fit.”

She says one of the key differences was that StudyLink understood the international student recruitment process.

“StudyLink is not your typical IT vendor, because they really do understand international education. They understand the need for change, and they are responsive. It’s not just about the system – it’s about working with people with integrity.”

Nikki Ekanayake, Manager, International Recruitment, was responsible for working with StudyLink and the UTS IT Department on the system migration. She agrees the StudyLink solution was the closest match, given that while there were modifications to be made, StudyLink were able to support their requirements.

“The data migration process was complex, because there were so many aspects to the data and it was measured in terrabytes. StudyLink did a trial to estimate how long it would take, and I think we were quite successful in making that work – I can see now the staff members don’t feel like anything is missing so the process has been seamless for them.”

The migration happened over a long weekend, and the new system was live in October 2013. All past data was available in the new system, so there was no need to refer between the two to keep the processes going.

“Importantly, we could also minimise the changes in workflow. StudyLink designed the system to match our internal precedents, so staff didn’t have to suddenly learn a new way of doing things,” says Nikki.

She says StudyLink were “great, extremely hard working and responsive” to work with. Initially there were some issues with the capacity of the new system, so StudyLink supported a move to Amazon Web Services for cloud hosting and since then it has been much faster.

“The staff are happy, they find it easy to navigate, the look and feel of the system is better, it’s more modern, and it’s also faster in doing certain things such as issuing letters of offer,” says Nikki.

“Working with UTS was a fantastic opportunity to show that the StudyLink Connect platform was flexible and powerful enough to create a customised international admissions workflow solution to meet the challenges faced by an international admissions team,” says Jason Howard, CEO of StudyLink.

“We work with a number of universities where StudyLink Connect enhances their existing admissions system to make it work better. For UTS we showed we can also deliver a complete admissions processing system – from submitted application to confirmed enrolment. Tze Ay, Nikki and the rest of the UTS team were great to work with and we’re proud to have helped them process more than 10,000 applications since the solution went live in October last year.”

Since implementing the system, the international student market has picked up and the team is handled almost 30% more applications compared with the previous spring.

“The system hasn’t had any problem with dealing with the extra applications,” says Nikki.

Tze Ay says she found the perspective StudyLink brought to the project very reassuring. “It’s really important for us to get the management reports we need, and to do that we need to capture the right data. I think that between the expertise of my team, and Nikki as project manager, along with Jason and StudyLink’s background in international education, we knew we were in safe hands. If we had to change any functionalities, StudyLink would respond.”

They both agree they’d recommend the system. “It’s helping us manage the volume, and that’s what we ultimately hoped it would do,” says Tze Ay.

UTS iAMS at a glance

StudyLink developed a flexible, full-featured online system that could handle applications from submission to confirmed enrolment – all online. This was the first time StudyLink launched a complete system on this scale.

Key success factors included:

  • Involving UTS IT department from the beginning
  • Willingness to modify functionality and capabilities to suit growing demands
  • Planning ahead to ensure data migration went smoothly for a seamless start