CityU revamps the information system for student administration

Catherine Ng

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Plans to re-engineer the information system for student administration at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) were introduced by the University’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) at a forum on 7 August.

Project 4Y has been designed in anticipation of the new 4-year degree programme and provides an opportunity to upgrade the existing student information system, according to Dr Jerry Yu Jer-tsang, CityU’s CIO. Dr Yu spoke to a full house of academic and administrative staff.

He outlined several major administrative issues that would need to be addressed in view of the new curriculum. These issues include student information management, admissions, curriculum advising, and the double cohort transition.

Under Project 4Y, CityU is collaborating with the Hong Kong Institute of Education and Lingnan University with a grant awarded by the University Grants Committee Restructuring and Collaboration Fund.

Dr Yu said various aspects of CityU’s existing information system, set up in 1997, could be improved, citing curriculum, co-curricular activities, internationalization and analytics as examples.

In particular, the system had to be enhanced to keep track of the students’ progression through the new curriculum structure, facilitate departmental management of study choices and verify participation in qualified co-curriculum activities, Dr Yu said.

These changes were needed because students will be allowed concurrent enrolments in multiple programmes, including majors and minors, and will be encouraged to participate in co-curriculum activities as a core part of their learning.

In addition, given the greater emphasis on internationalization, the system had to be upgraded to support recruitment of non-local students, Dr Yu added. “The system will be required to handle data items relating to non-local students’ personal particulars, credit transfer and articulation, and exchange activities,” he said.

The system would also have to be sophisticated enough to facilitate analysis and reporting of student portfolios. This would be achieved by incorporating a set of data that measures student profiles, learning experiences, learning outcomes, and employment or further studies.

A consultant had been commissioned by CityU to undertake a review of this area, Dr Yu said.

As for admissions, critical questions arise concerning how higher education institutions will admit students in view of the new senior secondary curriculum. The Government plans to introduce this new curriculum in 2009.

“The new selection criteria will involve ways to quantify and assess students’ learning experiences and profiles,” Dr Yu said. “A web-based portfolio can be a possible technology to address those needs. But discussion must be held among higher education institutions, the Government and schools to agree on the format, storage and distribution of the student portfolios.”

Since most stakeholders are still relatively unfamiliar with the new 4-year degree structure, Dr Yu said, an online platform, one that could be updated easily, had been proposed. Such an online curriculum would provide the support that students and parents need.

At the CIO forum, concern over the timeline for introducing the revamped system was raised. In response, Dr Yu said Project 4Y was at the planning stage and was expected to take about two years to complete. By that time, the major architecture will have incorporated all major aspects necessary for handling the transitional years between the 3-year and 4-year systems from 2009 to 2016.

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