An application service that provides a more seamless user experience, is mobile-friendly, processes payments securely, returns real-time accumulated data to the B.C. higher education system and has the ability to add on services like transcripts. That's the vision of the ApplyBC Steering Committee under a "co-operative autonomy" governance model.
BCcampus is well on the way to realizing this vision for ApplyBC. Last year Simon Fraser University joined ApplyBC as a full service participant, and the web application was re-developed to modernize and improve user experience. We're using the SFU experience as a model to invite more institutions into full-service capability.
"The advantage for students is a seamless application process. The advantage for institutions is a look and feel that integrates tightly with their own branding and their own student records system,” said Ian MacKinnon, Client Service Manager overseeing ApplyBC redevelopment. "Also, we are including PCI [Payment Card Industry] compliance. Rather than manually entering credit card payments into each system, a secure hosted payment provider handles application fees."
With the full-service modernization, applying to a university, college or institute through ApplyBC will no longer be a two-part form. To the SFU applicant, the process appears as a single process and the experience is smoother - and we're working to make it even more seamless. Applicants will still be able to apply to more than one institution without the need to re-enter their personal information and education history. In addition, we are working toward meeting the W3C accessibility guidelines to make ApplyBC easier to use for applicants with disabilities.
For the higher education system and for B.C. generally, the modernization of ApplyBC could contribute to the goal of open government. We're working with all institutions to implement automated feeds of applicant data with the goal of providing near-real-time updates of statistical data for all institutions. By developing open data access and reporting capabilities, the entire system will be able to make better-informed, more strategic decisions.
We're also working to improve data consistency by supporting the Postsecondary Education Standards Council (PESC) applicant data schema.
Ian MacKinnon and the cross-functional ApplyBC redevelopment team are working to bring all the current full-service institutions into the modern, integrated form for September 2013. These institutions are: Vancouver Island University, Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Justice Institute of BC, North Island College, Northern Lights College, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Northwest Community College and Selkirk College.
In addition, Capilano University is joining ApplyBC as a full service institution, which means BCcampus will be able to provide a redesigned application for all institutions using the Banner student information system.
In 2014, we expect to follow up with institutions that host their own application forms. We plan to work with them to implement standardized data exchange that will simplify processes for their applicants who use ApplyBC. This will also result in significantly better data reporting for the entire system.
For more information on the ApplyBC enhancement project, please see Ian MacKinnon.