Otago upgrades student admin

Otago University is upgrading its student administration system to allow online enrolment and to better cope with growing student numbers.

Otago University is upgrading its student administration system to allow online enrolment and to better cope with growing student numbers.

The Dunedin-based institution is to upgrade from its legacy RDB database system to Oracle 9i, as part of a $2.5 million student administration project.

IS director Martin Anderson says Otago presently uses a Digital Equipment-supplied RDB database, a system which was subsequently sold to Oracle.

The university's student administration system was developed inhouse, he says, and has been progressively upgraded over the years, with the current aim of having a "high-end web-based front-end".

"There's a lot of synergy between RDB and Oracle's 9i database. Our intention is to progressively migrate to it," Anderson says.

The institution is in the middle of a two- or three-year student administration programme, which will also see the adoption of Oracle's 9i application server and developer suite of products to expand online services to its 18,000 students and 6000 faculty members. The current system allows students to view their curriculum and exam results and update personal data online, but does not offer enrolment. By the end of 2004, Anderson says, improvements will allow online enrolment and changes to study courses.

Otago University declines to reveal the cost of the Oracle component, but says the student administration programme will cost up to $2.5 million. This includes the university's own development costs and buying associated hardware and software, including a cluster of HP Alpha servers.

On peak days more than 5000 students access the administration system, though with student numbers expected to double over two years, Otago University says it needed a more scalable database. Oracle 9i was also chosen because it allows the seamless transfer of files to and from other internal systems and external agencies such as government departments and other universities.

This, Anderson says, will become increasingly important as the university moves ahead with its plans to share a new web-based library management system with three other New Zealand university libraries.

As part of the student administration upgrade, Otago University reports it has "made a significant commitment" to the Crystal Enterprise environment.

Anderson says Crystal Decisions software will be used in administration and other systems to improve their data reporting abilities.

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