ApplyBC discussions – shared forms can be a winner

ApplyBC (previously PASBC) is the provincial service that anyone can use to apply to BC’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.

This post focuses on a key question raised: are the cost savings of maintaining a single set of forms sufficient for participating institutions?

Institutions that use the complete set of ApplyBC services save money (compared to institutions that develop and maintain their own forms) because ApplyBC provides the following:

  • Development and operation of high-availability web forms with secure data exchange
  • Data verification e.g. address/postal code
  • Helpdesk services for applicants
  • Regular updates to all code tables, e.g. high school names/codes
  • Real-time reports of application volumes ( and access to a map-based report query tool ( that provides the ability to view applicant data filtered from continents to postal code, by one/more program codes, etc.
  • Consistency of data definitions contributes to more accurate data processing and reporting

Further efficiencies that are underway or in the planning stage should result in additional cost savings at these institutions:

  • Automated application fee processing via PCI-compliant credit card processor
  • Integration of applicant transcripts
  • Provision of application form in multiple languages to better support applications from prospective international students
  • Links to federated identity capabilities to support authorized data exchange to related services e.g. StudentAidBC

Institutions have identified other important considerations that need to be met:

  • The long-standing online application process employs an outdated multi-part form set that could readily be converted to a single set of screens that would be consistent with each institution’s branding
  • Control over institutional form questions and data fields is provided through an administrator panel, and this could be extended to the full form contents

There are certainly other potential cost-savings benefits of a collective effort, including addition of social, recruitment-focused services that some institutions have begun to employ individually.

I think the best of all worlds is possible.