The University of South Carolina hopes to attract students by renovating dorms, hiring more professors, and starting an extended summer semester and an online program to complete bachelor’s degrees. But what many students will encounter first is the school’s computer system, which also is undergoing a makeover.
The enhancements, called Self Service Carolina, will give students a hub they can personalize for admissions, class registration, financial aid, and housing. The upgrade also allows for an easier early-warning system to spot students having academic problems and alert an adviser.
“We view this as part of a competitive advantage for USC,” said Bill Hogue, the school’s vice president for information technology. “If things are clunky, unattractive, not intuitive, difficult to use on the front end of an experience of the USC, then we risk losing some of our best and brightest students. People look for any reason to make a choice [of a college].”
Self Service Carolina is part of a six-year, $75 million overhaul of the school’s 1970s-era software. The school wants to create an easy-to-use, more secure system that will serve all eight USC campuses and the new online school, Palmetto College.
“We don’t want to make people go through 14 screens to get to a piece of information,” Hogue said.
The work, which started in 2010, is being paid for by technology fees that students pay and general university money. Hogue said the school should see savings from reduced staffing and lower operating costs. USC has contracted with Fairfax, Va.-based Ellucian for its Banner software that is used at the universities of North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, as well as Wofford College, College of Charleston, and The Citadel.
“We’re basically doing a gut rehab of all of the USC’s primary administrative systems,” Hogue said.
He said Self Service Carolina, which will replace the current VIP system, will offer one stop where “students can access all the services they need, figuring out where you are in meeting your degree requirements and what your account balances are for your Carolina Card, how much your folks still owe on your tuition, what your grades were last semester.”
(Next page: More details about the project—as well as a $2 million upgrade in cyber security)