New system won't jade Swinburne students

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Victoria's Swinburne University of Technology will roll out a new student management system over the next 18 months, in a multimillion dollar project with New Zealand's Jade Software Corporation.

Swinburne CIO Richard Constantine said the rollout of the JADE Student Management System (SMS) would be based on "functional milestones" over the next year and a half, and would make student administration a lot smoother.

Servicing Swinburne's 45,000+ students across six campuses, Constantine said the current, inhouse-developed system was around 12 years old.

He said it was becoming increasingly difficult and costly to expand and update the current system, it lacked the ability to easily consolidate student information and, "The return on investment is not as good as it would be for a new system."

Swinburne vice chancellor, Professor Ian Young, said in a statement: "The JADE SMS will mean Swinburne reaps the benefits of having one system that caters for our requirements as a multi-campus, dual sector university and our students will benefit from the convenience, speed and ease of having one system that manages the whole of student-life cycle from enrolment to graduation."

Constantine said of the new system: "It's a lot more holistic in terms of the management of students... modules can be built-in so each student can be handled case-by-case. And from a student point of view, they can do things like online enrolment."

JADE SMS runs on a Microsoft Windows or XP environment on an Intel platform. Constantine said the university had worked closely with JADE to develop a "sophisticated architectural environment with firewalls and securities in place." Jade Software is currently used in several higher education facilities in New Zealand and processes over 117,500 students per year across New Zealand, according to the release.

Constantine talked up the student self-service aspects of JADE SMS. He said that because the Microsoft operating system linked easily to other technologies, the university was "enthusiastic" about adding new features for staff and students. He said in future Swinburne would look at online as well as text message results, timetables, contacts, calendars and possibly coursework eventually.

In terms of security, Constantine said, "We had lots of questions at the start because every day you read about Microsoft security problems." But he said Swinburne went with the software giant because the universal applicability of the Windows platform, as well as the host of technologies that are proven to work with the software, such as VoIP.

"We have an excellent relationship with Microsoft and will work with them, Jade and our own staff on security issues as they arise," he said.

Constantine said the new system will run concurrently with the old during most of its implementation "we're employing good risk-management measures - although there's the added cost with duplication, it does pay off if things go wrong."

The new system is also equipped, in compliance with government regulations, to interface with external systems such as Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), Department of Education Science and Training (DEST), Australian Taxation Office, Office of Training and Tertiary Education (OTTE), Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).


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