ApplyBC discussions – real-time reporting capabilities

ApplyBC (previously PASBC) is the provincial service that anyone can use to apply to B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions.

During the past summer, a discussion framework for the future of ApplyBC was developed and distributed. See:

This framework identified the drawbacks to the current multiple application streams as well as providing three options for consideration and further discussion.

The key questions are: Does it still make sense to have a single, consistent, province-wide online process for prospective students to use to apply to B.C. post-secondary institutions? Does having the reporting capability to provide current aggregate information about applicant actions help institutions, applicants and government make quicker decisions that improve effectiveness and efficiency? Are the cost savings of maintaining a single set of forms sufficient for participating institutions?

This post focuses on the second question pertaining to reporting capabilities.

From the outset, a primary purpose for this provincial service has been “To provide system-wide information on applicant behaviours, demand and placement by capturing applicant data”. While historically, the reports generated provided an up-to-date picture of applicant trends, over the past few years, some institutions have made independent decisions to develop and maintain their own online application services without consideration of the loss of reporting function that would impact. This has resulted in the current situation where it is not possible to provide a current set of data about applications to B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions.

When it realized the loss of key data was happening, the service’s Steering Committee struck a Taskforce on Data Reporting, and in February 2009 it issued its last report. This group, which consisted of 9 members from B.C. universities, colleges, secondary schools and BCcampus, proposed a mechanism that each institution could readily implement, which would provide the ability for comprehensive, real-time enrolment data to be realized. The final sentence of their report reads “A mechanism to facilitate this process (PASBC data connector), but buy-in is required from the B.C.’s post-secondary instituitons in order to implement.

A few of the capabilities that such a mechanism could enable include:

  • Knowing that demand for certain programs are either high or low across all (or a selected number of) institutions (and then there is the potential to take immediate action).
  • Knowing which institutions and programs students from various school districts, provinces or countries are applying to – and comparing that with historical data.
  • Knowing how many institutions individuals are applying to on average, and creating the capability to refer students to other institutions with available space if their applications are declined/not accepted.

What other uses of this data can you envisage?