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Collectible Course Information: A Quick Look at UCAS’ Course Collect

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We’ve been working recently with a couple of our university clients on the brand spanking new UCAS Course Collect system. This is a data entry service, or if you prefer, a part of the UCAS website where you can key in courses information. It captures information for course marketing purposes and relevant stuff for the UCAS admissions system. It replaces the old netupdate / web-link for courses.

Course Collect Screen Shot

Course Collect Screen Shot

Like all new systems, Course Collect has had a few teething troubles from a university or college perspective. Getting used to a new system for keying is always a bit of a trial, and Course Collect gathers more data within a more structured information model, so it’s almost bound to be complex. We now have Programme > Subject Option >Course > Stage as the structure instead of the very flat one in netupdate. So there’s more flexibility in how the data is represented, but a greater demand for data on universities and colleges.

Data was migrated in May from the old netupdate service, so our early summer has been taken up with checking the data, amending errors on migration, and adding in new courses to be ready for Clearing and then the new season. And of course, we’re managing both 2013 and 2014 entry data.

Particular problematic areas were:

  • Some slight glitches in approving migrated data, especially where the migrated data was too large for the new field size. This took a few weeks to resolve.
  • Paging of lists limited to 15
  • Establishing how to get entry requirements information to appear in the right place in the new course finder tool on the UCAS website, which uses Course Collect data.
  • Complications around showing admissions tests and esoteric prerequisites
  • An annoying lack of Help in the Help system
  • A rather messy mess in the Entry Profiles area, which won’t be settled until early September
  • And at the moment it doesn’t want to work on my Chrome setup.

As we’re really XCRI-CAP people at heart, we continue to encourage UCAS to dispense with this old-fashioned ‘key everything in’ method of data collection and to adopt the XCRI-CAP information standard for bulk updating. To that end I’ve [ed: Alan that is] been doing some mapping of XCRI-CAP to UCAS Course Collect, and also having some thoughts about how a process of getting XCRI-CAP data into the UCAS system might be made to work.

Course Collect Bulk Update Process

Draft Course Collect Bulk Update Process

Our conclusion on Course Collect is ‘the jury’s still out’. Now that we’re down to maintaining the data and only adding in new courses occasionally, it might represent an improvement on the old services. However, my personal view is that we need some good quality management and reporting facilities, and a better workflow sub-system to bring this service up to ‘good’.

Written by benthamfish

July 31, 2013 at 4:21 pm