Toi Ohomai is one of the largest tertiary education providers in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato regions, with more than 10,000 students studying across more than 25 delivery sites in Rotorua, Taupō, Tauranga, Tokoroa and Whakatāne. Toi Ohomai has been working with Tribal since 2011 (previously Bay of Plenty Polytechnic) when the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand (TANZ) institutions (which Bay of Plenty was a member of) recognised the need for a future-proof student management system to stay one step ahead of the changing needs of students. This led the organisation to procure Tribal’s ebs solution which was subsequently deployed in 2012.
ebs has continued to improve processes since the initial implementation including support for a significant merger project when Waiariki Institute of Technology merged with Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to become Toi Ohomai. Toi Ohomai and Tribal have continuously improved the system, consolidating business processes and manual workflows to support student demands and provide staff more time to focus on strategic initiatives. A recent example of this collaborative approach to improving process is the addition of online admissions using the ebs:ontrack Solution.
Toi Ohomai realised the need to streamline processes for online applications and enrolment. Staff were processing around 16,257 domestic student applications annually and communications with students regarding applications traditionally included postal mail and, in some instances, in-person visits to student administration. All enrolment offers were reliant on students signing and returning the enrolment form.
All students, new and existing, were required to apply online via an impersonal public website. For each application the student was asked the same information again with all students also required to undergo an interview process prior to acceptance in their courses. To facilitate this each applicant was contacted manually by phone, or email.
The application and enrolment process could take up to 65 days, which was a deterrent for some students from committing to the institution. In addition, the interview process also opened up the possibility for interviewer biases, for example, based on physical appearance. This led to the decision to enhance ebs to fully support online applications to enrolments with ebs:ontrack and to increase student enrolments by two percent after completion.
After a 12-month project starting with initial phases of design thinking and scoping to go-live, Toi Ohomai realised benefits immediately from the “My Enrolments” portal. This has brought the entire applications process online for domestic learners.
A significant process review was undertaken to maximise the features and functionality of the new ebs:ontrack portal. This included staff procedures covering a wide range of tasks from curriculum set-up, through application processing to enrolment. The change process was soon incentivised by the results the team were able to achieve in a short amount of time and by demonstrating the value of a well-utilised student management system.
The portal was designed to replace the previous impersonal public website as the main system for receiving new applications, transforming the application and enrolment process for Toi Ohomai. Students required visibility of application progression, and the application process time had to be significantly reduced from the 65-day timeline to complete enrolment.
ebs:ontrack now provides enhanced visibility for students including:
- A fully interactive online application form for domestic learners.
- Dynamic application progress tracking.
- A document upload repository.
- Interactive interview self-selection and booking.
- Interactive application offer review with acceptance and rejection.
- Dynamic and automatic notifications and reminders for staff and applicants throughout the application process.
Other ebs modules that Toi Ohomai has utilised include:
- Data Miner, providing dynamic reports based on filtered data in ebs; and
- Correspondence Manager, providing tools to manage and maintain letter and email templates sent to students.
Combined, these features enable the organisation to deliver a vastly improved student experience.
The features of the new ebs:ontrack portal have allowed Toi Ohomai to consolidate online application processes and provide the students and staff with a more efficient way of accessing information, specifically with the introduction of mobile accessibility. This removes manual processes, such as sending communications via post to its student network, reducing transactional timeframes, while introducing new efficiencies in reporting, administration, and enrolment processes. The application and enrolment processing time, which was previously up to 65 days, has now been reduced to just one week on average with the help of ebs:ontrack and Toi Ohomai’s revised processes. Head of Information Technology, Rabindra Das, says,
Toi Ohomai has been driving more digitisation into existing process and it seemed logical that this would be at the top of the list, given it is one of initial key student interfaces. We did conduct empathy studies to understand pain points students had with applications and realised that understanding where you are at in the process was a key factor in keeping engaged. We view Tribal as a key technology partner that we work closely with, and they assisted Toi Ohomai on this journey to design and implement the Online Application Portal.” - Head of Information Technology, Rabindra Das.
Toi Ohomai students have also experienced significant improvements in the application to enrolment process. The Tribal ebs:ontrack portal allows students to upload documents rather than mail them to the institution or deliver by hand. Better information storage and access means returning students no longer have to attend an interview. It also provides students the ability to review and accept offers online, visibility of their own information, and the ability to track progress and the status of their applications in real-time on any type of device. The outcome; Toi Ohomai has increased its enrolments by five percent, surpassing the goal of a two percent increase.
Following the implementation, the Toi Ohomai project team also won a Regional Business Award for Customer Experience and was a finalist in a Continuous Improvement Category at the Westpac Tauranga Business Awards in 2020.
The next phase of the project includes an online application capture form for international learners, online graduation ceremony selection and fees payment, as well as direct enrolment and fees payments for short courses.
About Toi Ohomai
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Limited is a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, and a limited liability company.
Toi Ohomai is one of the largest tertiary education providers in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato regions, with more than 10,000 students studying across more than 25 delivery sites in Rotorua, Taupō, Tauranga, Tokoroa and Whakatāne. Visit www.toiohomai.ac.nz for more information.