Office of the Registrar launches pilot project on the Web
by Eve Krakow
Prospective students may soon send in their applications to Concordia by pressing the "Enter" key on their computers.
The Office of the Registrar, in collaboration with Instructional and Information Technology Services (formerly Computing Services), is fine-tuning a Web page where students can apply to the University electronically.
"It's part of our overall strategy to provide front-line services," said Lynne Prendergast, University Registrar. "Downsizing and new regulations, such as out-of-province fees, have placed extra stress on staff and students. We want to develop as many services as possible that students can use themselves, to relieve some of this pressure."
The new Application for Admission Web site is much more than just an online application form. It has been specifically designed for Web use. For example, it allows users to browse through program offerings by program, subject, or occupation.
"Searching by occupation is something we need to continue to develop," Prendergast said. "It's not always obvious to students what program they should go into to get to a particular career."
The site provides information on a variety of topics, such as admission requirements and timetables, required documents, language proficiency, selection process and notification, financial aid and awards, tuition and costs, and available services.
Once the users have chosen a program and read all the application instructions, they can fill out an application form on the Web site. The form is then sent directly (i.e., electronically) to the Office of the Registrar. Supporting documents must be sent separately by mail.
For the moment, staff print out the application and maintain a paper file. Eventually, however, the data will be fed directly into the student information system.
While the site is currently online, it's not yet linked to Concordia's home page. So far, it has been made available to select groups, such as students at Vanier College's "Application Day" and to CEGEP advisors, in order to gain feedback.
"Our concern is that once it's on the Web, it's available worldwide, and international applications are much more complex," Prendergast explained.
She says, however, that the Web address will be included in the University's upcoming part-time campaign. Complete launch of the admissions Web site is planned for fall 1998.
Already, publication of an e-mail address has produced encouraging results. While there have been many e-mail requests for information, there has been no drop in requests by telephone and regular mail.
"The number of inquiries is growing 100-fold," Prendergast said. "We now have to adapt to a whole new level, in terms of the volume of materials."
Although the current Web site is for undergraduates only, Prendergast said that the School of Graduate Studies has also expressed interest in the project.
In addition, services currently available to students on touch-screens throughout the University will also soon be accessible via the Internet. These services include checking one's grades, obtaining a personal exam schedule, sorting out exam schedule conflicts, checking whether a loan or bursary has arrived, and finding out about course schedule changes.
"We're not doing this because we have to," Prendergast said, "but to develop a distinctive way of presenting ourselves. It makes the University more of a village."
As of April 3, 10,059 full-time and 290 part-time applications had been received. This compares favourably with the applications at the same time last year, namely, 9,967 full-time and 313 part-time. Prendergast added that most part-time applications come later in the spring or summer. Applications for Commerce and Administration, Computer Science and Fine Arts were up, while applications for Arts and Science and Engineering and Computer Science were down.
Students and staff are invited to browse through the admissions