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Edith Cowan University adopts Tribal to streamline reporting to TCSI portal

Edith Cowan University adopts Tribal to streamline reporting to TCSI portal

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Edith Cowan University (ECU) streamlined the way it reports to the Australian Government’s Transforming the Collection of Student Information (TCSI) portal with the Tribal Callista and Tribal Submissions solutions.

Spanning over three campuses in Western Australia with over 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) mission is to transform lives and enrich society.

The university’s vision is to lead the sector in educational experience, research with impact and make positive contributions to the industry and the community.

ECU has been a Tribal customer since 2004 and has been using Tribal’s student management system, Callista and other different modules such as Tribal Submissions.

A new reporting requirement stemmed from the Australian Government Transforming the Collection of Student Information (TCSI) project, a joint initiative between the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and Services Australia. It transformed how student information was to be collected to build a better solution to benefit both Australian education providers and students.

The TCSI roll-out caused a number of challenges for education providers because it required them to report student data in a new and improved way.

Fabia Baroni, Team Leader of Business Support, ECU, said: “One of the biggest challenges was the lack of a secure government testing environment, which meant we had to desensitize all our data… and the lack of access to a government testing user interface meant that we didn’t uncover some issues until we went into production, which wasn’t ideal.”

Prior to rolling out Tribal Submissions, ECU submitted student data quarterly and the process was quite manual. It would generate a sequence of files, set the jobs to run, check it the next day and if there was a problem in the data, one of the teams would have to find what the problem was, fix the problem and then batch the jobs again to run the next night, Baroni comments: “If that one job fell over, it would cause the rest to fail.”

Peter Corbett, Director of Student Administration at ECU, said: “TCSI was a massive change in the way that we had to report to the government. The mechanism changed entirely. It became near real-time reporting and the volume of the data that we had to supply has increased markedly.”

During this time ECU, like other higher educational institutions, was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This also meant that the university incurred staffing and budgetary issues and looked for a solution which could reduce the amount of working hours spent on reporting through the TCSI portal in a cleaner and efficient way and that at the same time would positively change its business processes.

Tribal, along with its customers, worked to develop the SMS agnostic submissions solution alongside other higher education and VET providers as a part of the Australian Government TCSI working group since its inception in 2018.

As one of the members of the Callista Group, ECU was part of the working group to develop the Tribal Submissions solution. It was one of the very few providers that went out of safe mode early and is compliant to the government’s reporting requirements.

The Tribal Submissions solution delivers critical student data directly into the federal government’s TCSI B2G API suite through an intuitive user interface to reduce risk and streamline submissions. The native cloud-based, multi-tenanted SaaS solution stages and collates real-time data and can be integrated with any Student Management System (SMS).

Tribal’s reporting solution streamlined the way ECU reported to the government.

“You’ve got the ability to configure any packet to auto-submit, auto-approve and edit certain fields, which we find really useful,” said Baroni.

“The download upload feature in Tribal Submissions is really good. We can download up to 10,000 records at a time, edit those records if need be and upload them again back into Tribal Submissions without any performance problems whatsoever.”

The project implementation was quite unique as ECU was not only dealing with requirements from within its team but it also had to be compliant with the government. It involved a larger group of participants than it was used to because ECU needed to ensure that everything was done with precision and most importantly, met deadlines.

Tribal acted as the liaison between ECU and the government and was able to share specific government requirements with ECU.

Corbett said: “The process was unique in terms of Tribal projects. There was a much larger group of participants involved. Indeed, it’s probably the largest group of participants we’ve had involved in any project.

“We had some unique support arrangements put in place because we knew the importance of getting this project through and having it working properly and meeting deadlines. We set up what was called TCSI hyper support, where there was dedicated support provided post-project so that we had the comfort and the assurance that we were going to have the support required when we went live.

“At the same time, we always know that if we had problems, we can pick up the phone to Tribal, send them an email, have a meeting and we’ve always got somebody there to talk to and provide us with support.”

It was also clear that in order to make the implementation a success a collaborative effort was required. The team needed to be informed of the many changes both from the government and also to its reporting system so that by the end of implementation, ECU could be confident in the reporting solution.

Baroni said: “Tribal was great from start to finish. The collaboration between Tribal was just amazing. The knowledge and information shared was just great. We really felt that we were well informed throughout the whole project. Tribal even initiated meetings with the government and the tools that Tribal provided us throughout the project were effortless.

“The Tribal team put together knowledge forums, set up community sites and Team chats so they could easily respond to any questions the ECU team were having which they still use today. Tribal provided endless tools to help us piece together the whole process and how it worked.

“They went over and beyond. But the main thing was they listened to us throughout the whole project. They listened to our requirements and actually delivered a solution that suited everybody. It improved the way we do our reporting and we’re really happy with it.”
Since the 2021 implementation ECU has been successfully submitting data through the TCSI portal. It was the first university to get out of safe mode and report through to TCSI. In addition, it was able to bypass many of the headaches caused by not having a reliable reporting solution that other institutions were experiencing and were able to reduce the time staff were spending on reporting.

Corbett said: “I think with a project of this magnitude, the relationship could have been easily fractured because it was always going to be difficult but Tribal, as they always have, have come to the party and never missed a deadline.

“We were the first university to get out of safe mode, we were submitting data early, we were hearing all the nightmares from the other providers, and we weren’t having them. We at ECU didn’t require any additional resources to implement this project. For us, it was business as usual at low cost and with low impact.”

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