About the Client and the University
We were approached by the Southern Federal University. A university with a hundred-year history, an innovative IT space that offers technical and humanitarian training for qualified professionals.
Previously, admission campaigns at SFedU were held in person: applicants had to come to the university and personally submit documents. Managers entered the data of future manually, using 1C software, and sent it to Russian information systems (IS).
To simplify the submission of documents and attract students from other regions of the Russian Federation, SFedU decided to convert the admission procedure to an online format and automate all processes. That was an important step in maintaining technological leadership among other educational institutions in the southern region.
To develop a service for submitting documents, we plunged into the process of conducting the university admission campaign. Our team studied the target audience and similar systems on the market, and after that we came up with the following ideas:
- create an intuitive and well-laid-out UX/UI design for applicants and develop a one-stop solution for submitting applications and requests for admission;
- simplify the work of representatives of the SFedU Admissions Committee and prepare a convenient tool for working with applications.
The digital platform solves several important tasks at once:
- reduces paperwork;
- improves the accuracy when submitting applications;
- quickly generates reports and calculates statistical indicators to improve the service.
In 2022, the government changed the rules of the federal admission campaign shortly before the start. In response to the requirements of ministries and departments, the team, within a short time, did the following:
- formed a system for submitting applications, consents, and other documents for applicants;
- accelerated and automated the process of checking information from potential students;
- automated the creation and updating of enrollment competition lists;
- made automatic order formation for enrollment and expulsion of applicants;
- developed the automatic addition of information about applicants from the “Gosuslugi” service;
- created an automatic upload of applicants' data to the FGIS SFC.
Digital Platform Design
The users of the digital platform fall into three groups: applicants, parents, and admissions managers. Therefore, there is a need for a clear interface that would allow applicants and their parents to submit all the necessary documents and fill in all the necessary data accurately. At the same time, managers also need to be taken care of their work has to be simplified and automated.
SFedU employees have to view tens of thousands of applications, most of the application fields are of the same type and with a lot of text. To minimize the risk of making mistakes, we decided:
- mark information blocks that need to be checked especially carefully;
- indicate the sections which require additional verification because the applicant has made some changes to the information.
The digital platform helped to achieve the main goal as the applicants understood the procedure, quickly filled out the applications and received feedback, and the managers effectively and accurately performed their work.
Integrations and Technologies
The digital platform has to work smoothly with other services, so it required several integrations.
- Superservice Gosuslugi, a single window service through which applicants submit their applications to universities. Thanks to the integration, more than 50,000 applications were processed.
- FGIS SFC, a service of Rosobrnadzor, where applicants' data is transferred.
- Moodle, a system on which entrance examinations are conducted.
- 1C, a system for accounting and data structuring.
We also used some helpful cloud solutions and microservices. With their help, you can:
- quickly scale and process a large number of applications at the time of maximum system load;
- use several technologies at once in one digital solution;
- quickly and efficiently update an IT product;
- speed up the development due to microinstructions;
- develop high fault tolerance 24/7.
Limitations and Challenges
The digital system was developed and implemented in a very short time despite the scale and complexity of the project. The work was complicated by a variety of factors: changing legislation and state requirements, combined with a fixed deadline. But the work was completed on time, and the admission campaign at the university was concluded successfully.
Working conditions changed quite often as new federal IS were in the active development phase and the customer requirements had to be regularly updated. Therefore, both the service functionality and the interface logic had to be adapted, too. In order to complete the work on time and achieve the client's goals, despite the unpredictable external conditions, our team:
- increased the number of IT professionals involved from 15 to 40;
- worked on weekends and at night in order to be in time for the beginning of the Admissions Committee work.
Coincidentally, the federal information systems were being actively developed during the admission campaign. This nuance led to a number of serious changes in the source code of the SFedU digital platform. For the timely data transfer to federal information systems, our team promptly made all the necessary changes.
Playing Not By the Rules
Some applicants failed to follow the application acceptance rules. They created a profile in the digital system of the Southern Federal University, and then some forms were filled out with errors, as if on purpose, while others were just skipped. After that, they duplicated accounts with identical full names, but with different email addresses. They ignored the input of the TIN, which was used for verification, chose various specialties, and registered a similar profile using the Gosuslugi superservice.
Some applicants deliberately created duplicates in order to boost their admission chances, at the same time hampering inspectors' work. In order to prevent double enrollments, our team developed an algorithm that computes matches and combines them.
The information about applicants, which was sent to different ISs, was not consistent in identifiers and had different values. As an example, the SFedU information system used one set of values for the full-time education identification number, while the state IS used entirely different ones. In order to bring all the values to a common denominator and improve the situation, the team performed data mapping, i.e. we made compliance tables for all ISs.
The education at Southern Federal University is available for foreign students, so in 2022, it accepted more than 1000 applications. This category of applicants cannot provide some mandatory social data, so they could not be synchronized with different information systems. Together with the university team, we developed an algorithm to find such collisions and worked out a solution to the problem.
In a short time, we and SFedU experts created a comprehensive and convenient platform for applicants. The digital solution helped to automate the admission process and increase the employee efficiency. The 2022 admission campaign was successful and covered a much larger number of applicants due to remote application opportunities. The implemented platform is flexible, customizable, easily scalable, and easier to maintain than 1C. Thanks to the fruitful joint work with the Southern Federal University:
- applicants can apply, track their status, attach documents, take entrance exams and make the necessary changes;
- applications can be checked and changed by managers through their personal accounts;
- the system smoothly exports and imports data from Gosuslugi;
- applications are exported to the state information system FGIS SFC;
- competitive lists, enrollment and expulsion orders are generated automatically.