Supporting Independent Providers in Australia to be TCSI compliant
In this article, we discuss how TCSI will enable intuitive, modern and streamlined reporting of student information.
- All tertiary education institutions in Australia are required to comply with new regulations – Transforming the Collection of Student Information (TCSI).
- Regulatory reporting is a burden for any size institution, particularly for smaller providers who have finite resources.
- Ellucian is a pilot partner for the TCSI scheme and we’ve been helping institutions to deliver more streamlined and flexible reporting.
All tertiary education institutions in Australia are now required to comply with new regulations, brought in to build a better solution facilitating the efficient collection of student information. The new reporting system is called Transforming the collection of Student Information – or TCSI. Ellucian is working with a number of institutions in the region to support their requirements in meeting the new reporting standard. In this piece, we talk through why TCSI was introduced and how it will enable intuitive, modern and streamlined reporting of student information for Australia’s tertiary education institutions.
What is TCSI and why was it developed?
TCSI (pronounced 'taxi') is a joint project that aims to transform how student information is collected. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department) and Services Australia, are working together with education providers and software developers to build a compatible solution that will provide a seamless experience for providers and students.
Once in place, the project will help education providers reduce duplication, improve data availability and resolve system deficiencies with a simpler and more intuitive data reporting system. TCSI also brings clear benefits for students, such as simplifying student claims, improving payment accuracy and helping maintain student payments to complete their studies.
TCSI replaces the Higher Education Provider Client Assistance Tool (HEPCAT) for all education providers and the Centrelink Academic Reassessment Transformation (CART) for universities. The new system will be used for all data previously reported via HEPCAT or Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS), including course, campus, student, completions, Commonwealth scholarships, PIR, University applications and offers, and staff data collections.
There are two interaction channels education providers can choose from to continue data submission and comply with reporting requirements. These include a Business-to-Government (B2G) channel and an online portal. The B2G channel is for providers using student management software to manage student information. TCSI introduces TCSI Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which enable interaction between the institution’s student management software and government software, enabling the performance of queries and data submissions. Ellucian is working with customers on an individual basis to ensure their student management software integrates the TCSI APIs seamlessly.
The alternative option is an online portal for education providers who do not currently use a student management software. The portal will be available for providers to upload data files such as a spreadsheet to support data submission and reporting needs from this group of providers.
Ellucian has been working closely with seven institutions in Australia - helping them get ready to meet the TCSI deadline of December 2020. Working with the Australian Governments’ HEIMS, Ellucian has proactively delivered the data collection, cleansing and reporting submissions required for phases one, two and three of TCSI, ensuring it is delivered ahead of schedule at every stage. As a pilot partner for the TCSI scheme, Ellucian has a key role in implementing the transformation of the collection of student information in the region. This includes continuing to invest in its technologies to ensure the solutions developed for customers are fit for the future.
The implementation of TCSI by Ellucian customers has been led by Dinil Wijesinghe (Senior Regional Business Specialist, Ellucian), part of a dedicated Australian team that focusses solely on customers in-region. Working closely with government, Dinil and his team are ensuring that Ellucian’s solution will always be compliant and up-to-date with regulatory changes, without the need for clumsy workarounds outside the system. Participation in the Australian Government’s TCSI working group as a product tester, as well as holding customer working groups and 121 customer consultations, has been the key to helping customers get ready for TCSI.
Dinil Wijesinghe comments: “We’ve been involved with TCSI from the beginning, working in partnership with government to product test prior to implementation. This has put us in a great position to guide our customers as they integrate TCSI into their own processes, and has enabled us to ensure our own software is adapted according to the needs of each of our customers.”
One size does not fit all
Prior to TCSI, each institution in Australia collected, managed and shared its student data in different ways. Whilst the end-result of the programme will be real-time data sharing of student information, the processes and software used by each institution will differ. By taking a 121 approach with customers, Ellucian has been able to support institutions in developing new processes as well as ensure the evolution of its products suit each of its customers.
Dinil comments: “Customer insight, feedback and measurement go hand-in-hand with the evolutionary nature of adapting our technology to best support TCSI and all other tertiary education requirements.”
Regulatory reporting is a burden for any size institution. Creating daily reports, collating student and course data sets for all mandatory external reporting bodies can become an administrative burden, particularly for smaller providers who have finite resources.
The Ellucian team put regional and customer requirements at the forefront of its SaaS student information system – Ellucian Quercus to help save time and effort for administrators.
“We understand that independent higher education providers have finite resources and keeping pace with change is ever more important,” Dinil explains. “Ellucian Quercus is designed to align closely with higher education policy. It provides one touch reporting capabilities for institutions to manage the TCSI reporting data efficiently, and the intuitive TCSI returns process provides more streamlined and flexible reporting.”
Collaborating for success
In addition to a focused approach, Ellucian arranged working groups to provide customers with an opportunity to talk through group challenges and concerns in moving to the new system. One of the key pressure points for Ellucian’s customers is the adoption of real-time data integration. Prior to TCSI, several institutions had not used real-time data reporting when sharing student information with the government and had reservations around the accuracy and security of the shared data. With extensive experience developing solutions for the cloud, Ellucian has been supporting these customers in moving to real-time data sharing and ensuring they have the correct processes in place to manage it effectively. Balancing solution adaption with well as balancing solution adaption with collaboration with the customer community is critical to ensuring these regulations are met as effectively for institutions.
Ashlee McCusker, Senior Director APAC at Ellucian, added: “Working in collaboration is vital to ensuring a project of this size is implemented effectively. This is the first time some of our customers have had to consider reporting student data in real-time and by hearing from their peers who were early adopters of cloud technologies, we’ve been able to help them navigate these changes in a safe space.
“From collaboration and 121 consultations through to regular discussions with regularity bodies, we’ve been focused on developing solutions that are not only TCSI compliant but drive institutional success – powered by intuitive student data management software and processes.”
Ellucian is hosting a webinar together with Independent Higher Education Australia and representatives from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (Australia) on 21 October 2020, 12:30pm to 1:30pm AEDT. To register your place, please email [email protected] for more info.