It is interesting to look back at where the International Education industry has come from over the last 30 years.
Equator IT developed and started supplying College administration software in 1988.
Originally we supplied software to assist Colleges who ran VET courses, at the time generally they were called Business Colleges. Later we moved with the growth of the sector to support English Language (ELICOS) Colleges.
Initially we supplied software, BECAS, to Colleges who wanted to manage their data and look deeper than their cash book accounting and understand and calculate earned revenue that matched the cost of delivery. This meant calculating revenue by student by day for the period of the student’s enrolment. We developed this software specifically for a number of prudentially operated Colleges who which were growing their international enrolments and applied very sound business practices to the pre-paid fees collected. This proved to be an important design principle as within a few years overseas students fees were required to be placed in a designated trust account and accounted for separately. Equator IT was the first company that supplied software to operate a College Trust account for overseas students and calculate complex draw-downs for each student during the student enrolment.
The industry has moved on and designated trust accounts are now not required but a “special account” is still required for CRICOS students. Our updated system, eBECAS manages fees deposited into special account for students enrolled in a CRICOS registered course. The balance, deposits and withdrawals for CRICOS students are monitored by each CoE, and updated in Prisms.
Management of student fees remains an area of risk from a compliance perspective and not one that can be taken lightly. This is a complex process and one that is not easily managed by the ubiquitous spreadsheet.
As the industry and the systems that support it have matured, hosting the student management database locally has been replaced by online web hosted systems, with centralised and amalgamated reporting for multiple site College groups. This approach lessens the need for IT experts with increased security and integrated off-site backup and support.
Following our College customers requests, we have expanded the options we provide to manage students life-cycle in our software.
Initially we focused on providing revenue calculations that accounting packages could not provide. The revenue reports supported changes to starts, holidays and cancellation by agent, country, salespeople, course and course grouping. We expanded our system support to include timetabling, result entry and attendance.
Our current version of eBECAS provides support for colleges operating as a VET College, meeting government regulations including AVETMISS reporting for VET enrolments for domestic funded and unfunded programs for each state as well as NCVER AVETMISS reporting for VET CRICOS students. The system also offers the web service interface to the Federal government USI service to generate and confirm the Unique Student Identifier for VET qualifications.
Language classing over the years has changed and become more complex and sophisticated to reflect the requirements of the industry. eBECAS manages student enrolments starting any week, any length, and seamlessly allows for changes to start date and finish date and course length.
Based on our extensive experience in the industry, we know that classes run continuously at different levels and can be taught on different days and times with different teachers in different rooms at different levels. Classes can be subject based (e.g. speaking, listening, reading, comprehension etc) at different times and days and change weekly. Student can be allocated to different classes depending on their subject level (a different speaking class level compared to a different reading class level). Student can be placed in a different future class without effecting their current class allocation. Class history is stored for every student. Teachers can enter absences, assessments and results by class in the application or via their portal using a smart phone or tablet.
eBECAS offer a portal that provides students and teachers with access to their classes using their smart phone or tablet. Student can see their timetable, College news and activities, attendance percentage and absences, administration messages and diary notes as well as their student account.
Increasingly Colleges integrate their reporting with external tools. We provide access via API’s for integration with online applications, accounting packages and business intelligence reporting.
What should not be forgotten with this integration is how vital it is that there be one central source for all information, so that the latest and current information is always available – a single source of truth, that all staff from all departments access. This insures that all areas of the college have the most current changes and reference that information primarily from the shared system, even when they use external systems. External systems must always update the central system with the latest shared information.