Registrar’s office bursts bubble sheets

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By Stephen Huebl

Bubble-sheet course selection forms will be a thing of the past within the next few years, as Ryerson adopts a high-tech system that will let students select courses and apply for scholarships online.

Ryerson’s new Student Information System will eventually make a number of services available on the web, including admissions and registration, student records, fees and financial aid.

“This is a massive undertaking,” said registrar Keith Alnwick. “It is the key project for the registrar’s office for the next five years.”

The multi-million dollar project will allow students to make their course selections online, and to do online degree audits. The degree audits will show students their academic standing, and which courses they need to graduate.

“The plan is to merge the degree audit with the course selection,” said assistant registrar Ken Scullion. “It’s a slightly more personalized approach, taking into consideration failed courses or transfer credits.”

For example, students will also include online scholarship and award applications.

Scullion envisions “one-stop shopping” for students, who will be able to access all vital student information online.

“I think it will be great for the majority of students,” said Grace Osabukle, a fourth-year nursing student. “I only come to school for class then I go home, so the more services I can access from home, the better.”

Ryan Hader, a third-year aerospace engineering student, agrees. “It’s the way of the future to have everything accessible on the Internet,” he said. “If they use this new system to its full potential I think it can have a great impact on students.”

The new system will also allow the registrar’s office to easily access and sort information.

Scullion said the new system would give faculty greater access to student records and achievements, allowing instructors to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Alnwick said Ryerson needs a new system to provide greater, faster access to the planning information database. The old system, which was put in place in 1984, has simply become obsolete.

“It performed wonderfully for us, but the time has come for it to be replaced,” Alnwick, adding that the new system will be the single biggest system change Ryerson has seen and will affect the entire university community.

A committee is in the process of selecting one of three short-listed products. Half of the universities in Ontario are already using one of these systems, Alnwick said.

Until a product is chosen, it is impossible to tell what the new system will look like when fully implemented, which could take three on four years.

Alnwick expects the coming years to be some of the most demanding for the registrar’s office, as they will face both the challenges of the new system and the double cohort.

“The double cohort won’t directly affect the implementation of the new system, but we would have preferred that the two didn’t coincide,” he said.

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