Jasper 'ready for prime time'

Waikato University is confident its new Jasper student administration system can cope with peak recruitment later this month.

Waikato University is confident its new Jasper student administration system can cope with peak recruitment later this month.

The Jade-based system fully replaced a Sears system, when that was turned off in January. That follows a phased implementation of Jasper since September.

University IT services director Derek Postlewaight says Jasper has undergone “stress testing” to cope with more than 100 online enrolment applications at a time.

“We are confident we can get Jasper through peak processing next week,” he says.

By the end of the month, the system is expected to have coped with 4000 further student enrolments, on top of 8000 Waikato had received by early February.

Testing uncovered some undisclosed “inconsistencies”, but Postlewaight says those have been ironed out.

Waikato University spent more than three years seeking a new student management system, finally choosing Jasper in November 2001, after coming close to choosing a PeopleSoft-based system early in 2000.

Postlewaight won’t disclose its price, but says the system will leave “change out of $5 million” and be on or under budget.

Jasper was originally jointly developed by Christchurch-based Aoraki and that city’s polytechnic. It is also used at Manukau and Otago polytechnics but Waikato is the first university customer.

Postlewaight says his and the Jade development team have worked well in adapting it to a university environment, estimating some 15% to 20% of the code will have been changed.

Five Jade and university staffers worked on the project full-time, as part of a core of 15 to 20 and a maximum of 100 involved at some stage.

“Jasper has a much nicer user interface than Sears, with a sophisticated rules engine to handle admissions and degree regulations that validate degree choices. That’s done the moment you enter anything,” he says.

By the end of the year, new features will be added to offer better administration of international student applications, and deal with post-graduate and higher degrees.

“It always was a phased implementation; incremental and risk-averse. This is not in the same league of other student administrations but it more than makes up for it in functionality and usability,” Postlewaight says.

He says Audit New Zealand provided some quality assurance.

Postlewaight says the implementation is “nothing but good news”, with the university receiving contacts from other institutions looking at adopting it.

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