SAS Project Manager, University of Victoria
UVic gets an A in reporting with SAS® Business Intelligence
Public post-secondary education in Canada is the responsibility of governments of individual provinces and territories, which contribute the majority of funding to academic institutions. The remainder of funding comes from tuition fees, the federal government and research grants. While universities across the country produce myriad reports that support faculty and administration decision making, they must also provide governments with regular reports on statistics, such as full-time equivalent enrollment, to ensure each school is hitting its target and is allocated the appropriate level of funding for each academic year.
The University of Victoria (UVic), one of Canada's leading universities, is a rich and supportive learning community for students and faculty alike. Based in British Columbia, it is widely recognized for leadership in research, inspired teaching and community engagement. UVic provides innovative programs and real-life learning experiences and is consistently ranked among the top comprehensive universities in Canada.
The Institutional Planning and Analysis department at UVic is responsible for internal and external business intelligence reporting and analysis, which includes, among other things: providing full-time equivalent enrollment and other vital statistics to the government; reports on enrollment and departmental funding; classroom utilization; applicant and admission behavior; student demographics; and managing student grade point average cutoffs.
In recent years, UVic replaced its old mainframe-based reporting system – which produced an abundance of paper reports and required extensive manual processes – with an Oracle-based information system. To meet its reporting and analysis requirements, the university turned to a Web-based business intelligence (BI) platform from SAS that acts as an information hub to access and integrate departmental data from across areas like HR, finance and student records.
Along with addressing a variety of analysis and reporting requirements, the SAS Business Intelligence solution provides self-service capabilities to a variety of information consumers and integrates with the Microsoft Office suite of tools. The team also wanted a platform it could add forecasting and predictive analytics to in the future.
“These were the major selling points for us. And, of course, it’s got the SAS statistical engine under the hood,” says Cheryl Sivertson, SAS Program Manager, Institutional Planning and Analysis, University of Victoria. “One of the things that we wanted to be able to do, with whatever product we picked, was lay a foundation to capture record-level data with which to eventually do more complicated analytics and reporting.”
An indicator of success will be how many more people use the system. To be able to help multiple areas of the university is a huge benefit to the institution. As we build more infrastructure over the long term, we're going to be able to offer more diverse reporting and answer more complicated questions.
With the SAS solution, information clients at the university can now access reports through the portal and even drill down to greater levels of detail. Sivertson says, “That's something that they didn't have in their hands before. They had to make a request or physically come to our office and go through big paper reports. Now they can look at information at a high level, in detail, group data by various categories, or look at it by faculty.“In many cases people are asked by faculty deans and chairs to be accountable for the resources that are allocated to them. Sometimes they’re asked to increase their enrollment. Certain faculties have recruitment targets, so the ability to know things like where their students are coming from, what courses they are taking, how many students in their faculty actually get credentials and what the percentage of students is that start in a certain faculty, but end up getting credentials from another faculty, is critical.”
Sivertson says her department is working in phases to build the reports it produced on the old mainframe environment, but feedback on the ease of use and quality output is already very positive.
“An indicator of success will be how many more people use the system,” explains Sivertson. “To be able to help multiple areas of the university is a huge benefit to the institution. As we build more infrastructure over the long term, we're going to be able to offer more diverse reporting and answer more complicated questions.
“The department has plans to create a BI dashboard, which will allow executives to monitor and manage the school’s key performance indicators through a simple user interface,” Sivertson continues. “The better the information in people’s hands, the better decisions they can make. When we're ready to perform predictive modeling and forecasting, we’ll be able to answer questions that provide more value to the institution and its students.
“In the future, I would like us to answer questions about student funding related to retention or graduation rates, to construct reports on faculty workloads and how are we delivering our courses and correlating that to student success. To answer those kinds of questions is exciting.”
UVic required a reporting and analysis system that would access and integrate departmental data and replace its old mainframe-based reports, while giving information consumers to ability to easily access Web-based reports to support institutional decisions.
SAS® Business Intelligence
With the SAS solution, information clients at the university can now access reports through a Web-based portal and drill down to greater levels of detail. They can look at information at a high level, in detail, group data by various categories, or look at it by faculty.