Working in partnership for the past 13 months, Nevada's public colleges and universities today unveiled the first module of a new student information system that will replace our more than 20-year-old mainframe system.
The project, known as iNtegrate
, represents the largest information technology overhaul in the history of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
The vision statement for the Nevada System of Higher Education's new student information system iNtegrate pledges it "will transform how and when students communicate with the colleges and universities of the NSHE and how faculty and staff conduct the necessary business of meeting students' needs for accurate information, timely decisions, and informed choices that lead to student success." This vision, established by the NSHE Board of Regents on February 28, 2007 embodies the system's determination to improve services to its students all over the state.
On July 7, 2008, the iNtegrate project was launched with ambitious plans to implement new student modules for admissions, academic advising, financial aid, student financials and student records for the seven NSHE colleges and universities. The first admissions module was launched on Sept. 14, 2009, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Truckee Meadows Community College will start using the new admissions application for the first time on October 12, 2009. Both modules will be used by students applying for admissions in fall 2010.
UNLV and TMCC are pilot institutions for the overall project and will continue implementing the remaining student modules between now and fall 2010. The College of Southern Nevada (CSN), Great Basin College (GBC), Nevada State College (NSC), University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Western Nevada College (WNC) will implement these same modules starting in the fall of 2010. All seven institutions will have a full suite of new student modules in place by the fall of 2011.
The project is branded as iNtegrate to convey two important messages. One is about its intent to coordinate NSHE's information systems into a functioning, unified whole. The second is about its medium, using modern information technology designed to enable efficient and effective service. As the vision states, iNtegrate will transform communications, improve accuracy and timeliness, and will make real time information available to students, faculty and staff. It is the project's goal to have this major investment in resources produce overall service improvements for students attending our institutions.
With these new tools students will have 24/7 access to their academic information, the ability to plan and track progress toward their own education objectives, more online payment options and online access to financial aid information, checklists to assist them in successfully completing required administrative procedures, and enhanced communications and navigation in a modern and consistent Web-based environment.
NSHE students are accustomed to using the Internet to perform routine transactions like shopping for products and services, paying bills, searching and retrieving information, and confirming the status of various interactions with businesses, service organizations and even governments. The new iNtegrate student modules include features such as a shopping cart when building class schedules or searching course catalogs. The student modules are accessed through a student self-service portal, which brings together several resources and tools for student convenience.
Faculty and staff will have access to information to assist students with advising and in resolving problems. System and institution administrative offices will have new tools for reporting and analysis which will enable improvements in accessing data for decision making, in producing state and federal legislative reports and responding to inquiries, in tracking student progress from one NSHE institution to another, for planning future instructional requirements, and for projecting resource needs.
All in all, the level and quality of service to the students of institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education will improve dramatically. As one of our students commented when asked how important is it for NSHE to put forth the effort to make it easier for a student to move from one institution to another, the student replied, "I'm actually a transfer student from UNR and came to GBC, and I am planning on going back to UNR for a Masters. So it's very important to me. I know that my transfer was confusing coming back to a community college from a university. So it might be just as difficult to go from a college to a university again. It's very important for me that this might be more streamlined."
When seeking feedback about the new system from another student, the student recognized some of the efficiency to be gained with the new system, "I think it would be really great, particularly for the staff effort in keeping records. I used to work at the graduate school office and every communication that we sent to the students we printed out the email and scanned it into their file."
A community college student summed it up when he said, "It's just going to be so much less time consuming and just easy. You don't have to come up to the campus -- you can just do it all from home. And the fact that it is going to be 24/7 is going to help a lot too."
Improving services to our students, that's what iNtegrate is all about.
By the way, the project is on time and under budget.