I feel like this has rather taken over my life – not the amount of time it has taken but just that I feel (as it is pretty critical to the sector) that I have to drop everything to respond to its demands. It seems to be about the only thing I get to blog about at the moment …
That said I think we made some real progress on Monday in clarifying the requirements of the interfaces between student records systems and the UK Border Authority’s Sponsor Management System (SMS). I believe we are nearly there with the specification for the upload of data to the SMS. The discussion today picked that up that, as this is the first step in the process, a few additional reference fields would be required to allow data to be fed back into student records systems more easily.
The situation regarding an applicant holding multiple certificates of acceptance onto studies (CASs) was clarified. It was agreed that if an applicant decided to invoke the use of a CAS (in order to apply for a visa) then all other CASs for that individual for courses that overlapped the course for which the CAS was issued would be rendered obsolete. This would have the impact of alerting the other institutions that the applicant would not be joining them (since they had applied for their visa using a CAS that was allocated by another institution). The applicant may still have other valid CASs active if they have applied for consecutive courses (for example, if they have applied for a course prerequisite to another).
The three sets of data transfer were agreed – the initial upload of data to the sponsor management system, an extract of data relating to the CAS for upload into student records systems and an upload of data to report students who did not arrive at the institution. The CAS data extract is required to feed the CAS number back to the institution. The proposed extract will contain the applicant’s reference number (as allocated by the institution), the CAS number, the status of the CAS (active, used, obsolete, withdrawn), the date of change and the course code and description. A number of options were proposed – to extract the data where the CAS has changed between given dates, in a given batch uploaded and to extract the data since the last extract.
It was agreed that the one occasion when a bulk report on non-attending students would be required was after registration to report those students that had failed to register. This data would then be uploaded into the SMS.
There was consensus from the higher education representatives that a further interface to upload prepayment fee information was desirable. The thinking behind this was that, as electronic receipts are not regarded as acceptable evidence of payment of fees (even aligned with a bank statement), the institution could update the SMS to record any prepayment of fees. However, this interface was not in the original specification and so a decision on whether it will be included has been taken back.
It is hoped that the final policy matters will be addressed shortly so that the specifications can be signed off at the next meeting on 16 March. A session for suppliers and institutions running their own system will take place on the same day.