Case study title: Online Enrolment at Kensington and Chelsea College Author’s name: Jeffery Rea, IT Manager
KCC is a general Further Education College historically focusing on adult students. We have a large number of part time courses and relatively few full time. KCC have had an online prospectus on our website linked into our student information system for some years now and we were one of the first colleges to achieve this (initially using Dolphin and now UNIT-e). We call this system KIPS – KCC Internet Prospectus System. All the course details are drawn directly from the student information system and displayed on our website. This minimises work as the data only needs to be entered once and ensures that the course details advertised to students match the courses when they come to enrol.
While in funding terms the college is medium sized, the number of student enrolments is equivalent to many much larger colleges so the administrative overhead in processing enrolments is relatively high compared to income and this makes any way in which this process can be streamlined particularly attractive.
Main body of content:
Online Enrolment Our first online enrolment system went live a couple of years ago and consisted of a web based form for students to enter their details and select courses from KIPS. The form was emailed internally and then students were called back to take their credit card details over the phone. This worked around the technical complexities of taking payments online, but more importantly, allowed a manual check on whether places were available and a conversation to confirm which fee should be paid. Most of our courses have three fees, the standard fee, a concessionary fee for students receiving benefits and a “full cost” overseas fee. This was a “pseudo” online enrolment system in that the transaction was not
actually completed online. However our research indicated that while a number of colleges appear to allow online enrolment, nearly all of them actually work in this way. Online Payment While this system was a benefit to students, it still involved administrative work, especially if students were not available to call back, so we needed to implement a full system which included online payment. However, over a year later, no more than a couple of colleges were doing genuine online enrolment. At least one had tried but withdrawn their system due to problems linking to curriculum and charging the correct fees. This was clearly going to be a challenge. There were three big issues to overcome: – – the technical one of taking payment online and linking this into KIPS and the details the student enters keeping an accurate count of places available, given that this is not just an online system, but students are simultaneously enrolling in person and by post assessing which fee the student should pay
Capita have an online enrolments system which we assessed last year, but agreed it was not suitable for our requirements: – KIPS was a mature system and giving us much more detailed control over which courses appeared on the website and how they were presented than the Capita system offered. We needed to do online fees assessment. We have a high proportion of students paying concessionary fees and it would have severely limited the benefits of the system if it could only cater for those students paying the full fee. We wanted to maximise the number of students who could enrol online, to free up resources at enrolment time. The Capita system requires students to go through a registration process on the website before they can enrol, including setting up a password which they then have to remember. We felt that this presented too much of a barrier. In our system, students are asked to provide their student number for matching with their existing record if they have one, but are not forced.
So we opted to develop our own, building on...