Arts Educational Schools (ArtsEd) is a performing arts college catering to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as children from Year 7 to 13. Although operating on the same site the two age groups have very different IT needs for day-to-day school administration. The Year 7 to 13 age group was catered for by UK-standard off-the-shelf school administration software. The higher education part of the college has to conform to the UK Higher Education Standards Authority (HESA) rules. HESA calls it an Alternative Provider (AP) as it offers degree-level courses outside a university setting.
HESA requires reports to be submitted annually, and in the near future, every few months. The reports have to be in a prescribed format which cannot practically be produced by hand. HESA has a basic tool for creating AP reports, requiring manual copying and pasting. Although software was available that could be used for the college administration, none catered for AP institutions out of the box. This software was also aimed at larger institutions with larger, more diverse needs, and as a result was complex and expensive. In some cases, conforming to HESA requirements was possible, but would require some bespoke configuration of the software and thus more expense.
As an interim solution, ArtsEd higher education record keeping was done mostly using Microsoft Excel, where much of the time manual copying from and and pasting to other documents was used.
This method of document creation takes a lot of time, and is error-prone.
ArtsEd had an online system for applying to the college. This created Excel spreadsheets which staff used to manage 3,000 to 4,000 applicants every year and their auditions. Unfortunately it was not clear which was the latest spreadsheet.
HESA were moving to reports being needed on a more frequent basis. The demands of
administering the college were increasing, and their online application system was showing its age.
So again ArtsEd looked at available software solutions. None met their needs and/or was affordable.
Simply Digital proposed and developed a single integrated system that would handle the complete student lifecycle from application to alumni following HESA standards throughout. In addition, the system would have the flexibility to accommodate other regulatory requirements with a minimum of effort.
The system went live in July 2019.
Candidate students create accounts and apply online using a web browser. They receive feedback on the status of their application and personal audition details automatically in the web browser, as the application proceeds without any extra data entry.
Successful candidate enrolment can be performed in bulk and takes less than a minute to set in motion. Enrolled students get automatically assigned to course modules. Overall grades are instantly calculated from individual assessment grades.
Simple HESA-compliant data entry avoids the need for looking up the correct code, and guards against most errors.
No more searching around for the latest spreadsheet and potentially working on the wrong document.
HESA report creation used to take two months. Now it takes 10 minutes and automatic analysis shows where corrections are needed before submitting to HESA.
Careful attention to the user interface means that very little training or referral to manuals is required. As one of our clients said, “I don’t need to look at the manual. It’s obvious how to use it.”
Security is built-in. No one gets access without logging in securely.