University of Dundee was founded in 1881, since then it has grown into a modern thriving university with 17,000 students, 3,000 staff, and 9 academic schools. The university has a strong research arm and won Scottish University of the Year 2016 & 2017 (The Times Good University Guide). They have a centralised timetabling office with 3 members of staff.
Dundee moved to a centralised timetabling approach in 2010/11. Initially, there was no data integration between its student records system – Tribal’s SITS-and its timetabling software, Syllabus Plus Enterprise. This meant two isolated datasets, a lot of duplicated work, and many errors in the resulting timetable.
Between 2012 and 2016, Dundee used a script developed in-house to get these business-critical applications talking. This enabled a one-time import of Modules, Programmes of Study (by School), Students and module selections (by School) from SITS to Syllabus Plus.
Producing a timetable from this data involved creating theoretical Student Sets based on Programmes of Study. But the vast number of possibilities meant that Dundee was catering for module combinations never picked in practice. The process was time-consuming, not responsive to subsequent changes, and the output was impossible to timetable. Constantly striving for improvement in its processes, Dundee was keen to ditch its unwieldy legacy scripts in place of new, reliable and supported solution.
Connect is an innovative integration platform that delivers seamless connections between the Scientia product suite and other software applications within an institution.
Connect ticked all the must-have boxes in Dundee’s wish list. They wanted a fully supported solution which would:
- Improve the quality of their data
- Be simple to implement than scripting, with a shallower learning curve
- Be easier to adapt to meet changing business processes
- Enable them to manage a single dataset
We set up a daily transfer of a dataset from SITS to Syllabus Plus which includes Current Students, Departments, Programme of Study and Staff (Tutors). Connect flags up any changes but it doesn’t delete any data, leaving the Timetabling Team in control. Taking the time to properly map data fields has drastically reduced duplication.
"It has given us benefits that we hadn't considered. We're now in a position where we can concoct tutorial allocations - small group allocations - and give those to the schools to publish. In previous years, we got the schools to do that. It's less work for more benefit all round."
Another unintended outcome is improved space utilisation through increased occupancy. “We need more robust analysis but we believe that we are now ale to schedule more classes within the same space – or make formerly poorly-used space available for ad-hoc bookings.” said Steve Boarder, Central Timetabling Team at Dundee.