SUNStudent
Welcome to Stellenbosch University


​​

FA​​Q​​s 


Gen​​​e​​​ral

Our current Adabas Natural in-house-designed Student Information System (SIS), which had been developed continuously since 1989, reached the end of its lifecycle. The system technology is out of date, programming skills are scarce, and key development and support staff are due to retire.

Strategically, we must broaden access through increased flexibility in our operations. This includes also being able to administer non-traditional courses and programmes, semesters and quarters, hybrid learning, etc. In addition, we require accurate, real-time data presented via user-friendly analytics and dashboards to make better-informed, effective institutional decisions.

This project is not limited to one organisational environment only but is an institution-wide initiative.
The project supports five of SU's six core strategic themes that will take the University forward into the next century. These are as follows:
  • A thriving Stellenbosch University
    During the external evaluation of the Registrar’s Division (RD) in 2017, the review panel observed that the Student Information System project (as it was called at the time) was probably one of the most critical factors in achieving the strategic priorities of not only the RD, but of the institution as a whole. The SUNStudent project (as it has since been named) will ensure the delivery of a fit-for-purpose system, which will bring about profound and sustainable change and regeneration in all facets of the administration of the student lifecycle - from recruitment to graduation and beyond. The system will also enable improved reporting on student data. A student administration and information system that is agile, adaptive and responsive will go a long way towards seeing SU thrive.
  • A transformative student experience
    The system will provide a unique, personalised student experience by delivering comprehensive, premium-quality support services and guidance to our student community, and enabling accurate, timeous and appropriate communication to targeted student cohorts.
  • Purposeful partnerships and inclusive networks
    The system will help enhance and expand engagement opportunities for, and strengthen SU's ties with, our substantial alumni communities.
  • Networked and collaborative teaching and learning
    The project will support the digital strategy as a basis for digital fluency. It will also ensure the continuous renewal of the University’s academic programmes through a systematic process with clearly assigned roles and responsibilities for the various role-players.
  • Employer of choice
    The system will help enhance the well-being of our staff by creating an enabling environment for greater efficiency and increased productivity. This will add to their sense of purpose and value in the institution, as they contribute to SU’s value of excellence.
All personnel in supporting and academic functions who interact with students, utilise student information and/or perform academic administrative tasks or processes.
It covers the following student information capabilities:
Admissions - Curriculum management - Catalogue - Residence management - Prospective students - Financial aid -
Student accounts/fees - Student loan repayments - Registration - Academic record maintenance - Co-curricular information - Exam concessions (e.g. additional writing time) - Postgraduate management - Programme progression of students -
Readmissions (assessment of students to continue studies) - Student assessment/marks capturing - Thesis management - HEMIS - SUNi - Mentoring/academic support - Elections - Scheduling of venues and allocation of classes -
Society and sport club management - Textbook orders - Exam management - Summer/winter schools - Degree audits and graduation - Dining-hall meal booking management - Official reporting - Disciplinary action
Although the systems renewal project originally started in 2013, implementation of SUNStudent started in May 2018, with a planned completion date of the end of 2021. View the timeline here .
Please refer to the "Project management" tab on the SUNStudent website.
Project capabilities will go live as and when the activity is required to start in the course of an academic year.
For the blueprint phase of the project, we need you to attend workshops and provide input as and when required. Please make use of this opportunity to ask questions, voice any concerns and provide feedback.
Various channels will be used to communicate. These include the SUNStudent website, the e-newsletters to personnel, and focused messages on the institutional website.
Please send an e-mail to sunstudent@sun.ac.za . Your request will be referred to the Project Management Committee (PMC) for attention, and escalation if required.
It means that the SUNStudent software application or system is not hosted on-campus in SU's data centres, but in so-called "cloud" data centres, which are operated by companies such as Microsoft. Furthermore, Serosoft provides the SUNStudent system as a service, meaning they are responsible for its reliable operation, backups, continuity of operations, and responsiveness. SU pays for this service instead of depending on SU's IT Division to run and operate the system.
At this stage, it is not clear whether and in what way roles will be affected. It is envisaged that the system will bring efficiencies that will enable staff to work smarter, not harder. The real impact of this will only become visible after implementation and will not be the same across the institution. It will be up to the specific environment to assess the impact of new functionalities in the system on existing job descriptions, and to make the necessary adjustments accordingly.
A "super-user" is the SU person who must be contacted first should you encounter any problem, want to suggest new or optimised ways of working, or need training.
This is not known at this stage, as it is too early in the process.
The risk of downtime is mitigated by having redundant network routes to and from the (primary and secondary) data centres where SUNStudent is hosted, and by eliminating single points of failure between the data centres and the campuses.
The application is device-agnostic, which means the system can be accessed from any device with internet access. Each user's access to capabilities and data (whether on a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone) will be managed by their assigned role. ​



​​

Blueprint P​hase ​

See hyperlink to blueprint process.
The functionality of the Serosoft Academia system and SU's requirements for a particular business capability are noted down in a capability blueprint document completed by Serosoft. Once SU has received the blueprint from Serosoft, the University reviews it, agrees with Serosoft on any required changes, and signs it off. Serosoft will then use this document to configure our system.
It is a dedicated workshop where Serosoft demonstrates their current system as set up for their other clients, after which detailed discussions take place for SU to understand the Serosoft process, and Serosoft to understand the SU process. The question "why?" will be asked a lot.
Any personnel/students who are involved in the capabilities can/will be nominated to attend the workshops. Involvement includes being the initiator of activities for a capability, receiving data from other people's activities, or initiating another process/activity down the line.
You will be afforded the opportunity to help build a new system that will take SU into the future by providing new ways of working, explaining processes and why they are necessary, and forming a better understanding of other processes/capabilities that you are not involved with on a day-to-day basis.
Serosoft collects all SU's requirements and map them to their existing system to provide us with the "blueprint" of what our system will look like in terms of functionality. The outcome will be a blueprint document, which SU must then review for accuracy.
A blueprint document sets out SU process flows and requirements for each capability.
For each capability, a functional subject matter expert (SME) will be identified, who will manage the process of getting the blueprint document completed and approved. The SMEs will identify other stakeholders to help them complete the document.
The capability owner will sign off the document. This would normally be a senior or chief director at SU.
These role-players are currently being identified and approved.
These are incorporated into the blueprint documents, and are escalated via the capability owner to the relevant person or structure for review and sign-off.
The capability owner
All effort will be made to fast-track escalations/decisions so as not to delay the project. ​






Training

Training will be a very important aspect of this project and will be scheduled according to project deliverables. Detailed communication in this regard will follow in due course.

​​

Support

Capacity challenges should be highlighted to your direct manager, or make use of the SUNStudent e-mail address to bring any support requirements to our attention.


Other Systems and Integrations

The most important intersections are student fees, bursaries and loans. Both projects have integration workstreams and teams who are identifying, analysing, designing and implementing the integrations that will be required.

The project team is busy identifying these systems to confirm their data requirements, how often these systems require student information (immediately, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc.), and how this data is received (automatically, manual download/upload by users between systems, etc.). ​


Terminologies

Please refer to the "Terminology" tab on the website. ​




Terminol​​og​​ies


The goal of the workshops is to discuss current business processes and simultaneously compare them to the best internationally accepted practices Academia (the new SIS) offers.
The Blueprint workshop discussions will culminate in a Blueprint document, that includes SU process flows and requirements for each one of the​ capabilities.
A bucket consists of various capabilities.
A bursary is a grant, especially one awarded to a student to enable him/her to study at university or college. A bursary may be awarded on various eligibility criteria, such as academic achievement, sporting excellence, financial neediness, or race or gender-specific measures. Bursaries are normally awarded by a university, or sometimes by companies and institutions. Bursaries and scholarships are synonymous in many ways, and are tools used to assist students financially. In some cases, a bursary is awarded on the condition that a student works or gives of his/her time to meet the bursary requirements.
Business capability is an expression of a business function or business area, i.e. “Recruitment", “Admissions", “Curriculum Management", etc. It answers the question: What does the institution need to be successful in that area?
A CRP or Conference Room Pilot is a demonstration of the configured and customized Academia software which complies with the signed-off blueprint documents. Selected business use cases are demonstrated to the Accountable and Responsible stakeholders of a capability to showcase the preparedness of the overall software. The CRP is a confidence-building measure that indicates to the stakeholders that the software is ready for User Acceptance Testing and Training.
Financial aid is money given to a student to cover academic or non-academic expenses. Financial aid includes grants, bursaries, scholarships, loans, rebates and discounts. Sometimes, financial aid is offered to cover out-of-pocket expenses that are not part of the cost of study, but are linked to work done while at university. Examples include travel costs relating to participation in conferences and events, research-related expenses such as patent costs, etc. ​
This is the official date on which SUNStudent will be available for access to the general user base for a set of capabilities. This is the last step of a project phase. In the case of SUNStudent there will be more than one go-live date, as different sets of capabilities are released.​
This is the date when the CRP, UAT and Train the Trainer steps for each phase’s capability have been completed and signed off by all the relevant stakeholders. Between this date and the go-live date all activities are geared towards getting the production system ready. ​
SUNStudent is a project that aims to optimise/automate multiple capabilities for the university. Capabilities have been grouped into three project implementation phases for go live based on the annual student lifecycle. Each project implementation phase will have a series of implementation steps that will lead to a go-live date for a specific set of capabilities. Some of the steps that forms part of a project phase include:
  • Blueprint workshops
  • Blueprint documentation
  • Blueprint sign-offs
  • Customisation/configuration of the base software
  • Integration development
  • Data migration
  • Conference Room Pilot (CRP)
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) & Training
  • Go-live​