How Student Data Integration Delivers Competitive Advantage


The higher education market has changed dramatically over the past decade, with increasing competition among traditional, for-profit and online options. Demographics are also changing to include a growing percentage of remote and part-time students with unique needs and goals.

Given the growing number of choices available to them, many college-bound students now have a consumer-oriented mindset when it comes to selecting an institution. Colleges and universities must find ways to differentiate themselves through innovative services and program offerings.

The “student experience” has become a central feature of this competitive landscape, and technology is a critical component. Students expect to have online tools that allow them to track information, communicate and collaborate, and manage every aspect of college life. In many schools, the student information system forms the hub of this activity.

Early student information systems were typically dedicated to academic purposes, enabling the exchange of files and information between students and professors and the tracking of attendance, test scores and similar information. Missing from these applications was the ability to integrate other systems to create an end-to-end management and reporting platform. As needs and technology changed, student information systems began to evolve to meet a broader array of objectives:

  • Streamline administrative processes to increase staff efficiency
  • Give students access to a suite of self-service functions
  • Support academic advising, tracking and administration
  • Automate financial aid processing while maintaining regulatory compliance
  • Drive student recruitment and retention activities
  • Enhance engagement with alumni, donors and the community

To achieve these goals, colleges and universities need a unified view of student data that works with student information systems as well as legacy admissions and financial aid applications, scheduling software, content delivery solutions and a host of other systems. However, many schools continue to struggle with disjointed platforms and multiple data sources that are difficult if not impossible to integrate.

Extract, transform and load (ETL) capabilities allow data to be collected from a variety of sources, validated for accuracy and to prevent duplication, and uploaded directly into a centralized database. Paper-based data sources can be scanned and stored as images where appropriate or digitized through optical character recognition. When all student data is stored in one place it can be used to support a wide range of applications as well as provide detailed reporting and tracking. A “single version of the truth” helps ensure data integrity and speeds decision-making at all levels.

Of course, no two institutions are alike. Each school has a unique mix of applications, information sources and data requirements. An ETL solution must be customized and integrated with school’s application environment to ensure that data is accurate and delivered to the right place at the right time. Nevertheless, this effort can transform processes throughout the institution and help schools provide a more compelling student experience.

A coordinated information system that gives students all the resources they need for managing their activities can serve as a key differentiator in today’s higher-ed marketplace. Let us show you how you can consolidate and integrate your data resources to become more efficient and competitive.