ScotlandCSS conference

8On June 1st I attended the ScotlandCSS conference. This was a first ever edition of this event with 11 speakers and very interesting talks. The event was divided into four blocks which included three talks per block and were followed by the Discussion Track. I have found this structure very functional as there was a good chance to talk to the speakers or ask some questions.

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SSP New Developments

The Student Systems Partnership (SSP) Team has recently developed and successfully applied to live the following three projects:

SAC018 UKBA Data Recording – Overseas students can study in the UK after being granted a visa under Tier 4 of the Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency) points based system. This main aim of this project was to improve the way University holds data for Tier 4 students by bringing information from disparate systems into EUCLID to allow effective reporting on, and monitoring of Tier 4 students.

Other improvements were made so that CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) requests for students extending their studies are generated in EUCLD rather than keyed manually. Tier 4 data is now presented in one place within EUCLID for review by Registry staff at Census points. Copies of passport and visa documents can be stored and accessed from EUCLID.

The software has been successfully used during the last week (20th – 24th October) the Tier Four Census 2014-2015 academic session. The census details of around 5,500 students were collected and stored within the SITS database.

SAC019 Direct Admissions Review – The purpose of the project was to review Direct Admissions Processes across the university with a particular focus on PG and VS applicants looking at the process from the decision to submit an application to the point of decision. The new Direct Admissions application uses the same framework as the one developed as a part of the first SSP Agile project Paperless Admissions. From the technical side the following technologies or improvements have been added to the SITS:

PD4ML – is a powerful PDF generating tool that uses HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as page layout and content definition format. The software has been installed on the SITS server and is used to generate the PDF version of the offer letter so it can be printed on the student request. The technology has been also successfully used in the Student Self Service to print documents such as Certificate of Matriculation, Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), Certificate of Student Status (for Council Tax Exemption)

E: Vision SSO Single Sign On enhancement – a MD5 encryption method of the single sign on links has been replaced with more secure AES Advanced Encryption Standard (32 character key)

SAC033 Tier 4 Engagement Monitoring – The aim of this project was to meet the requirement by UKVI to be able to report on engagement for all Tier 4 Students by September 2014. As a part of this project the following functionality have been delivered:

  • Exposure of engagement points from other sources within EUCLID
  • Bulk creation of engagement points within EUCLID
  • Auto-scheduling of engagement points per student within EUCLID
  • Facility for administrators / academics to record engagements within EUCLID
  • Upload of engagement points from spreadsheets into EUCLID from an external source

From the technological point of view the following solutions have been used:

  • Creation of the JSON object from the .csv file
  • Validation of the JSON objects using the JSON schema
  • Creation of csv files from the html tables

SITS Technical Working Group and STUTALK User Group Meetings

The SITS Technical Working Group and STUTALK User Group meetings take place every six months. Every time meetings are held in different locations and are organized by different Universities. The last meeting took place on the 22nd and 23rd of May and was hosted by the University of Bristol. We had two representatives from the Student System Partnership Team (SSP) – Tomasz Pogoda and Jon Martin.
The purpose of the Technical Working Group meeting was to discuss issues related to the SITS software updates, new features of the latest software version 8.7.1, de-suported components and the Document Manager tool.
On the STUTALK User Group Meeting we had a chance to discuss – What are institutions using STUTALK for and what they have done in terms of the STUTALK implementation. Also a new features and the road map were presented by the Tribal.

On both meetings there was a number of presentations delivered. There were three presentations delivered by Tribal:

Email Configuration, troubleshooting and attachments – In this presentation a new email features which will be available from version 8.7.1 have been presented.
E:Vision, HTML5, Accessibility & Responsive Design– Tribal The overview of new features related to the Mobile strategy, responsive design and HTML5 has been presented.
STUTALK 2.0 – in this presentation the features of the new version of STUTALK have been presented.

There was one presentation delivered by the Kings College London:

STUTALK and mobile timetabling – presentation given by Kings College London.

We also had a chance to share our recent experience with Bootstrap/Jquery/CSS stylesheet within our SITS configuration. The  topic of our presentation was: Improving the e:Vision user Interface using JQuery and Bootstrap.
We have recived a very positive feedback and most of the institutions were highly interested in our experience.

The presentation slides BootstrapTWG_Edinburgh_University and minutes from both meetings STUTALK User Group Meeting  Technical Working User Group Meeting