What Is a Student Information System?

Student information systems enable institutions to manage student data from a centralized platform, deliver personalized student experiences, and drive student success.

What is a Student Information System?

A student information system (SIS) enables higher education institutions to manage myriad student data and deliver capabilities to drive student success and engagement. In the past decade, student information systems have grown increasingly important as institutions embark on digital transformation initiatives and grow increasingly responsible for governing and protecting enormous volumes of sensitive student data.

In the past, higher education student information systems were often disparate solutions that looked at siloed data associated with specific functions. While this traditional approach served its purpose at the time, the recent—and ongoing—proliferation of mobile devices, cloud computing, and eLearning technologies has compelled institutions to leverage more innovative and comprehensive software.

Today, SIS solutions centralize nearly all student-related data, such as course registration, grading, transcript, class schedule, attendance information, and more. By bringing together a multitude of resources, you can gain more holistic, end-to-end views of their students. This insight allows your administrators and staff to deliver personalized student experiences and course correct individuals who may not be on the most direct or likely path to completion. With happier and more successful students, retention rates increase.

The New World of Higher Education Software

The evolution of mobile and cloud technologies has made users more tech-savvy and demanding in terms of accessing content and services anywhere at any time. These changes have aggressively poured into the higher education market and have driven changes across the entire ecosystem. Student information systems are now evolving rapidly because of their responsibility for harboring data and directly interacting with students.

Higher education institutions must use SIS offerings that cater to their specific needs. But with such a diverse market of software, what should you look for?

Here are some things to consider.

Should the SIS Be in the Cloud?

The benefits of the cloud—scalability, reliability, security, redundancy, etc.—can help you become more agile and responsive to changing student and user demands. With a cloud student information system, you have much more freedom in how you scale, on demand. During course registration periods when your students are selecting and signing up for classes through the SIS, for example, you can scale the infrastructure in order to support those big shifts in traffic. Conversely, you can scale back during the summer and quieter periods when fewer students are using the solution.

Additionally, the cloud introduces redundancy and security benefits that can help you prepare for the unexpected. When the SIS and its accompanying data is hosted in the cloud, operations can be brought back online much faster than if the system was hosted on-premises. Cloud environments also deliver an extra layer of security than traditional environments, which can help reduce the risk of losing highly sensitive information.

Does the SIS Leverage Analytics?

Like cloud technologies, business intelligence and analytics solutions have become more intrusive and important in software. When your student information system is integrated with data analysis tools, you can translate mountains of complex data into meaningful information in moments, allowing you to make better, more informed decisions faster.

Empowering administrators, faculty, staff, and other users with insight can lead to higher retention rates, improved student enrollment numbers, and better overall student experiences. With predictive modeling capabilities, your advisors can use the SIS to more effectively identify at-risk students so they can intervene before it’s too late. Likewise, you can pull data from the SIS to identify your best-fit students to improve enrollment and recruitment tactics.

Will the SIS Grow With Your Institution?

As your institution grows, your student information system needs to evolve in parallel. Looking back even 10 years ago, the student landscape was extremely different. Logically, the industry needs to prepare for similar transformations going forward. As such, your student information systems need to be built on scalable architecture and be adaptable enough to cater to shifting needs across campus. With an integrated student information system, more departments will likely be using the solution, which means more functions and capabilities will need to be added. This adaptability will be critical when considering ways to “future-proof” your campus.

The student information system today is highly progressive and modernized, enabling better, more intuitive experiences for all users, including both faculty and students. As you look at your campus and evaluate your student information system, it’s important that you take a long-term approach and visualize what you can use now and what you may need in the future.