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COPHE has worked with the developers of ParadigmEMS to assist members in student management and HEIMS-compliant reporting.

Paradigm Education Management System

ParadigmEMS is a software application focused primarily on the collection, management and reporting of student-related data for Australian higher education institutions. Recent developments include a wide range of additional functionality that assists in the management and administration of private providers. Its major features of note are:

  • Paradigm is web-based making it accessible via the internet using standard web browser software)
  • Paradigm has a flexible data model; it can support significant variations in the way different educational institutions describe their student data, while still maintaining…
  • Paradigm directly supports the generation of DIISRTE reporting files for regular submission to the Commonwealth Government.

To the typical administrative staff member, the Paradigm interface may seem somewhat different in design and behaviour to the software applications used previously. This is because Paradigm has been designed as a secure web application, requiring nothing more than a standard web browser to securely access student data and modify it. The advantages of this approach include:

  • You do not need special software installed on a computer to access Paradigm, so you can work from any computer permitted access by your institution's security policy,
  • All the student and related data is stored and maintained in a data centre so that any approved member of academic or administrative staff can access the same data at the same time (within the limits of information visibility permitted by their 'role'.),
  • Security and backup of the institution's student data is maintained at a single central location by technical staff,
  • Additional features and upgrades to the Paradigm software are made at one central location and are deployed to all users of the software wherever they are located.

Why COPHE took an interest in student management and data

With some exceptions, most private higher education providers use student record systems that have been developed in-house to meet their perceived needs. Typically, as time passes the expert who undertook the development moves on and system maintenance becomes an issue. Many of our COPHE colleagues have reported that they have systems that are at the end of their life cycle.

The universities use huge, complex and massively expensive systems possibly because they seek to integrate all the applications in enterprises that are very disparate. They are inappropriate for a private provider for any number of reasons though the cost alone is prohibitive.

TEQSA, the Higher Education Act, private providers and the need for improved data

The passage of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 introduced a wide raft of higher education reforms. Now TEQSA has introduced a further layer of Provider Information requests.

Access for programs under the HESA calls for the electronic submission of DIISRTE-compliant data through the HEPCAT interface to the HEIMS system.

The TEQSA data requirements are more extensive than what is captured at present by many private providers but the key issue is that the definitions of the data elements must align with standards set down by the Commonwealth so as to be comparable with higher education statistics more generally.

COPHE and Paradigm

In 2002 COPHE established a partnership that developed and implemented a sophisticated student record system on an Application Service Provider (ASP) or hosted server model that:

  • Addresses the business process needs of COPHE member institutions through the implementation of a fairly generic model though with some level of individual modification and if necessary specific add-on extensions(at additional cost per institution)
  • Is DIISRTE compliant and focused on the needs of higher education
  • Maintained online in a secure environment with modifications made centrally
  • Is cost effective and deployable for immediate enrolments
  • Offers a software platform that can be maintained and developed on into the future for a group of member institutions.

Specific advantages of the ParadigmEMS for COPHE members

  • Enabling smaller member institutions that may not have high levels of IT resources to access a sophisticated and regularly maintained student management system.
  • Reducing costs to acceptable levels by working collaboratively on a standardised system, while still allowing members to purchase a implement a variant as their own system, if they have particular requirements.
  • Improving security for smaller member institutions through access to robust technology that operates with a level of security that is used by major institutions in their access to data centres.
  • Providing cost advantages driven by what is in effect a single COPHE multiple user implementation, based on a common approach to determining business processes, parallel implementation and joint training
  • Offering ongoing and improved training opportunities and the ability to provide an annual calendar of scheduled training
  • Enhancing the ongoing development of the system via a Users’ Group that meets at least annually
  • A system of first and second-line technical support bearing in mind that a large part of the challenge is understanding new data definitions and business processes driven by the need to interface to government

Statistical requirements 

There are a range of requirements specified in Subdivision 19-E of the HESA. Under Section 19-70 of the HESA a higher education provider must provide information to the Minister in relation to its delivery of higher education. In particular, it must give the Minister statistical and other information on its provision of higher education and on its compliance with the requirements of the HESA. It must have appropriate administrative arrangements in place to enable this to be done.

The HEP must also comply with two specific requirements:

  • provide prescribed statistical information to DIISRTE; and
  • engage as prescribed with DIISRTE Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS).

Under Section 19-75, a HEP must also inform the Minister in writing of any event affecting the provider or a related body corporate of the provider that may affect the provider’s capacity to meet either the conditions of grants under the HESA or the quality and accountability requirements.

Data to be provided by new HEPs

All HEPs in receipt of grants from the Commonwealth are required under the HESA to provide statistical information in respect of the provision of higher education.

The data provided on these files by new HEPs (providers that are not already listed under Table A or Table B in the HESA) from 2005, will be only in relation to students who are in receipt of FEE-HELP and/or students enrolled in National Priority Places (NPP). All data elements, in respect of these students, are to be reported as per the attached data specifications.

TEQSA requires that HEPs provide data on all students enrolled regardless of whether FEE-HELP is accessed.

Privacy and confidentiality

DIISRTE recognises that unit record data which relate to individual students are provided to it on a confidential basis and will contain personal information.  This personal information is required by DIISRTE for the purpose of the administration of Commonwealth higher education entitlements.  The authority to collect this personal information is contained in Section 19-70 of the HESA and protected through Division 179 of the HESA.  DIISRTE may provide unit record data to State and Territory higher education authorities for the purposes of state related analysis. When handling personal information obtained by it under the HESA, DIISRTE will comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988.

Data files to be provided

1.            Course of Study File

The data in the Course of Study File comprises detailed information about the courses in which eligible students are enrolled.

2.            Student Load/Liability File

The data in the Student Load/Liability file comprise detailed information about the units of study undertaken by students. This information includes Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN), unit of study commencement date, student load (EFTSL), total amount charged and loan fee.

3.            Student Enrolment File

The data reported in records in the Student Enrolment File provide a “profile” of the student (e.g. date of birth, gender, home location, ethnicity, educational background).

4.            HELP Due File

The data reported in the HELP Due file reports details about students with a HELP debt (HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP) which are to be recovered through the taxation system, and personal details for the students who have the HELP debt.

5.            SLE/HELP Revisions File

The data reported in the HELP Variations file reports details about any revised EFTSL or debt amounts for students who have a HELP debt (HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP).

6.            Scholarships File

The data reported in the scholarships file reports students in receipt of Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship (CECS) or a Commonwealth Accommodation Scholarship (CAS).

7.            Student Past Course Completions File (For new HEPs, this file is first required in 2006)

The Past Course Completions File reports details about each student who completed the academic requirements of an award course in the year prior to the Collection Year.

8.            Unit of Study Completions Status File (first required in 2006)

The Unit of Study Completions Status File reports details about the completion status of all units of study undertaken in the year prior to the Collection Year.