University of Gibraltar is building an institution for student success

Ellucian Quercus technology is part of the foundation

The University of Gibraltar is an exciting addition to the higher education community in Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Its first cohort of students enrolled in September 2015.

When university leaders first set out to design a modern campus and superior student experience, their slate was essentially blank. While this was a daunting challenge, Vice-Chancellor Daniella Tilbury also equated it with freedom. “This freedom,” said Tilbury, “enables us to convene cutting-edge thinking, attract talent, and trigger innovation—which will inject dynamism and vitality into our society.”

Good technology is critical to freedom. It provides mobility, agility to innovate, new learning and research tools, expanded access, choice—all priorities for the University of Gibraltar. With this in mind, the institution was diligent in its efforts to find and implement technology systems capable of supporting its vision for student and institutional success.

Finding the right technology partner

One of the university’s first priorities was choosing the right student information system (SIS). Their requirements:

  1. meet immediate functional needs while also offering a scalable, extensible platform to accommodate future growth and change
  2. provide a cost-effective model—built on rapid deployment, easy configurability, and an agile cloud-based infrastructure that lowers costs and delivers innovation without
  3. utilise best practices in higher education technology
  4. deliver a superior student experience

After exploring the market, the university chose to partner with Ellucian and to deploy the Ellucian Quercus student information system. Not only did Quercus fill their requirements, it came with access to the world’s largest team of experts in higher education technology.

“Because the software is modular, we could prioritise the modules critical to launch while simultaneously developing a holistic, long-term strategy.”
Christian Celecia, Head of Information and Communication Technology

Meeting both immediate and future needs

As a new institution, the University of Gibraltar needed an easy, intuitive information management system to ensure a positive constituent experience from day one. At the same time, they needed to lay a solid foundation for future growth and innovation.

The university is meeting both needs with Ellucian Quercus—taking advantage of pre-configured workflows built on best practices, flexible rules, and the ability to expand and scale functionality at their own pace.

“We had a relatively small window of time between procuring Quercus in June 2015 and going live with enrolment by September 2015,” said Christian Celecia, head of information and communications technology (ICT). “Because the software is modular, we could prioritise the modules critical to launch while simultaneously developing a holistic, long-term strategy.”

Implementation timeline

  • Implementation began: Early August, 2015
  • Deployed Registration, Fees and Student Records in Live: Late September, 2015 (within six weeks)
  • Deployed Exams and Case Manager: January, 2016
  • Deployed all online services (Apply Online, Accept Offer, Confirm Place): By end of February, 2016
  • Total duration: seven months (with one month break in between

Implementing a cost-effective model

The University of Gibraltar has an information and communications technology team of just three people and a limited budget for infrastructure. In researching the SIS market, they found that Ellucian Quercus offered the most value at a manageable cost.

“Many of the systems we investigated were geared toward larger institutions,” said Celecia. “We didn’t want to pay for unnecessary or irrelevant functionality. Nor did we have the resources to support larger-scale solutions. When we also factored in the cost savings from not having to buy, maintain, and upgrade our own technology infrastructure, Quercus became the clear choice.”

Other factors driving cost-effectiveness include Ellucian’s rapid deployment model; easy, flexible configurations; and a cloud platform that delivers continuous innovation with minimal disruption.

Taking advantage of best practices

Without legacy systems to contend with, the university was able to draw from international best practices, as well as Ellucian’s own experience implementing thousands of student information systems for higher education.

“We looked carefully at what has worked for other universities around the world and how to replicate that success,” said Celecia. “It helped that Ellucian had considerable experience in the market.”

Like all Ellucian technology, Quercus has best practices for higher education built in, giving ICT a head start on tailoring the system to meet its own practical and strategic needs.

The university also took advantage of the opportunity to consider the big picture—assessing campus-wide system and workflow needs and building integrated solutions. ICT held formal meetings with departmental staff and faculty to understand the specific reports each expected and has maintained communications during implementation.

Prior to the September enrolment period, the university’s ICT staff received intensive on-site training from Ellucian, and they are now overseeing training and change across the institution.

“Based in Gibraltar, we initially felt very much on our own,” said Celecia. “But from day one Ellucian was in constant touch, moving the project forward, and making sure we hit key milestones on time.”

Delivering a superior student experience

Ellucian Quercus is a cloud-hosted system, providing students with information and services on demand through any browser or mobile device. It offers a simple user interface and seamless experience as students apply, register for courses, progress through the curriculum, get examination results, graduate and become members of the alumni community.

Quercus captures data at every stage of the student lifecycle, which enables the university to manage and deepen relationships, as well as improve academic success. It supports students pursuing full degrees, taking short courses for professional development, or interacting with the university at any level.

Knowledge is the key to success

The motto of the University of Gibraltar is ‘Scientia est Clavis ad Successum,’ which means knowledge is the key to success. Creating a learning environment that fosters student success takes not only academic but practical knowledge as well. Ellucian Quercus ensures that students, and the faculty and staff who support them, have reliable access to the administrative knowledge they need when they need it, so they can focus on what matters—education.