The Country Universities Centre (CUC) is a community owned network of regional study hubs across NSW. The centres offer campus-like facilities to any student studying at an Australian university. The centres typically offer high speed internet (100 Mbps symmetrical), video- conferencing facilities, computers and printing; as well as tutorial spaces, and areas for social collaboration. Beyond the facilities, the CUC staff offer students’ academic, administrative and pastoral support. They also advocate events for the centres that promote educationally meaningful activities to encourage student engagement.
The concept was initiated in the small NSW town of Cooma in 2013 by the local community, supported by a local business, Snowy Hydro, and the Cooma Monaro Shire Council. Following the success of the Cooma centre, the model was expanded to a further two locations in 2018, and five new locations in 2019. The Country Universities Centres’ rapid growth required a flexible database solution that could meet the increasing demands of the client while securely recording and storing sensitive student information. Across the network, student numbers were approximately doubling each semester and the range of courses and affiliated universities growing at the same rate.
The Database Requirements
Our Centres operate over eight different locations, with six centre managers collecting and entering student data. Our students are enrolled with 35 different universities, studying more than 300 unique courses.
Our student data included: student contact details, student equity characteristics, university enrolments. In addition to this, we also track tutorial and workshop bookings, swipe card details and library book loans.
Earlier databases using Access were slow with the data entry, difficult to pull reports, and problematic to use across a number of sites. It also created delays in reporting data, where significant validation and consolidation was required between the different locations.
WDCI/RIO Education were approached to construct a student data management system that would achieve the following:
- A platform that was accessible across many different locations, and able to grow with the network;
- Easy entry of data, customised to our student registration process;
- A platform that was flexible to our broad range of students and enrolments;
- Real time reporting of student data for a range of needs and
- A secure method of storing data.
Before choosing WDCI and RIO Education for this project we investigated a number of database options, including customised Microsoft databases, three different customer relations management systems, two learning management systems and a bespoke cloud- based system. WDCI presented an insightful understanding of our requirements, a competitive quote and an efficient time line for delivery.
Database Construction and Rollout
The WDCI database team were ideal partners to collaborate with on this project. The development team were very professional, quick to answer any queries, and communicated clearly at each step of the development process. The team has clearly had training in project management and follows the best practice guidelines of the PMBOK. All our queries, unusual requests, and questions around areas that were unclear were answered rapidly and effectively. Additionally, they were all a really nice group of people to work with.
Our database is now operating across all CUC locations, with student information from nearly 600 students being entered across the semester. The data entry process is easy to understand, integrated with our website and easy to learn.
Our data reporting has been set up for the ranges of reporting that we use regularly, including government reporting, monthly meetings and research.
We have been incredibly happy with the result, which was delivered on time, on budget, and tailored to our specific needs and requirements. The CUC would happily recommend WDCI and RIO Education to anyone considering a student database.