Management Process for Higher Degrees Administration(HDA) – (BSS)

Project Description

Postgraduate Student Management System
“The first phase of the Postgraduate Student Management System (PGSMS) has been completed and the second phase is in process” says Gert Meiring, senior Business Analyst of Business Systems.
Gert has been working at the NWU for the past 7 years and he describes his work in a single sentence: “I gather business needs by asking questions and communicate them to the technical team”.
The goal
Being a firm believer of continuous improvement and in doing so, making another person’s job a bit easier, Gert describes the goal of the PGSMS project as “improving the VSS (Varsité Student System) by catering for all the postgraduate requirements”. One doesn’t realize how many tasks were previously performed by hand. The PGSMS now includes additional fields as has grouped other fields for better functionality and ease of use.
Instead of creating a separate system, the PGSMS was incorporated into VSS. Users who were already familiar with the look and feel could easily adopt to the new functionality without learning a new system.
The team
As part of the requirement specification, team members were chosen to represent all campuses including the Institutional Office. Numerous sessions were held to gather all the requirements. Gert emphasises that these members were key to the success of the project. Other parties include the SAS office, Open Collab contractors and a few of Gert’s colleagues from Business Systems.
What was gained?
Before the PGSMS project, VSS didn’t cater for all the postgraduate requirements. Examples are – all the needed fields could not be captured, all the required functionality to support specific postgraduate processes were not available, and reporting was insufficient.
Attention was given to all the requirements during the planning phase of the project.
A phased approach was used to apply the different improvements to VSS. This implied that new functionality was made available on a two weekly basis. After every two weeks users would see new functions on their screens. By using this approach the users enjoyed the benefits of the project right from the start rather than waiting until the project phase was completed.
Marietjie Ackerman (Potchefstroom Campus) and Amanda Smith (Vaal Triangle Campus) are both Co-ordinators in the Higher Degrees Office of Academic Administration and had the following to say about the benefits of the PGSMS.
1. Data capturing of postgraduate information is faster due to a more user friendly environment.
2. Postgraduate information is now grouped together and thus more readily available.
3. Titles of dissertations that contain special characters can now accurately be captured for the PGSMS now caters for special symbols.
4. Additional fields allow for new features. For example “notice of submission” of each postgraduate can now be captured, enabling a report to be generated of “possible graduates” that previously had to be maintained by hand.
5. Reporting is more extensive and easy to use. Outstanding applications of students who have neglected to register are effortlessly extracted. The School- and Research directors are now readily kept up to date regarding their students – no more time is wasted with manual reports.
What next for PGSMS?
The second phase of the project has started. This phase will entail the development of electronic document workflow where postgraduates will be able to submit and track all their requests online e.g. notice of submission and title registration to name two.
Parallel with this development, Business Systems will also start with the “loading of electronic document” functionality. This will enable ID documents, academic results, grade certificates etc. to be uploaded into PGSMS to form part of the postgraduate information.
All of this functionality is made possible by the completion of this first phase.
The benefits of the second phase include:
1. Availability of more detail regarding postgraduate progress and study . The PGSMS will be able to show how far a student’s research progress is. This will help with reporting to the Vice Chancellor.
2. Accessibility to other users such as the Research division who in turn will take responsibility for capturing the research titles.
The study guidance application (interaction between the student and the university) where postgraduates will be able to track their studies, schedules, and communications online, is in the pipe-line for a next phase in the project.
Numerous users from various departments… the administration office, faculties and schools will benefit from the PGSMS.


No documents at this time.

Project Progress


Project Timing

  • Start
    Jun 02 2014
  • End
    Dec 19 2019

06/02/2014 12/19/2019


Overall Project Completion

  • 20%
  • 60%


  • 40%
  • 80%

1. Phase 1: Enhancement of Student System Functionalities (VSS) Complete 100% Tasks 0 / 0


2. Phase 2: Optimisation of paper forms used in Post Graduate Process Complete 35% Tasks 6 / 16


14 Feb – Awaiting feedback from RMC regarding the following :

  • appointing dedicated Product Owner.
  • Appointing Faculty to do pilot on Title Registrations and Notice of Submission

6 of 16 completedTasks

  • Notice of Submission
  • Title Registration
  • Title Modifications
  • Cancellation of Studies (Inisiated by Student)
  • Termination of Studies (Inisiated by University)
  • Change of Modules
  • Extension of Study Period
  • Interruption of Study
  • Classification Process
  • Functionary Appointment Process
  • Update Personal Information
  • Update Contact Information
  • M&D Online Application Form
  • Colloquium Process
  • Ethical Process
  • RSVP

3. Phase 3: Development of study guidance process Complete 0% Tasks 0 / 0


This process is ppart of Adelle Lotter’s responsibility.

4. Improvement of HDA processes (VSS) Complete 55% Tasks 5 / 5


Tasks include:

Examination process & A-rules

NRF data

Electronic communication to students – letters & SMS

Upload of supporting documents

Report enhancements



5 of 5 completedTasks

  • NRF data & reporting
  • Examination process & A-rules
  • Upload of supporting documents
  • Electronic communication to students - letters & SMS
  • Online applications

5. 2019 HDA DIY applications Complete 0% Tasks 1 / 11


HDA DIY applications

  • Add/amend Title registration request
  • Apply for cancellation of studies
  • Apply to put studies on hold
  • Apply for Extension of study period
  • Apply for Change of Modules
  • Apply for Classification Process
  • Apply for Ethical Process
  • Apply for Functionary appointment process
  • Apply by student to give notice of submission

1 of 11 completedTasks

  • Add/amend Title registration request
  • Apply for terminationof studies
  • Apply to put studies on hold
  • Apply for Extension of study period
  • Apply for Change of Modules
  • Apply for Classification Process
  • Apply for Ethical Process
  • Apply for Functionary appointment process
  • Apply by student to give notice of submission

6. 2019 HDA DIY applications (modified) Complete 55% Tasks 0 / 0


Progress thus far and also including what still must be doen

HDA Processes (with NWU file plan number)

7.1.1 Student admissions

  • Done Online Applications
  • To Do Investigate Admissions Document

7.1.2 Student registration

  • To Do Investigate the registration process

7.1.4 Termination of Studies (Termination is from faculty and cancellation is from student)

  • Currently – One form used for under- and postgraduate students
  • To Do DIY Termination of studies

7.1.5 Student Requests

  • Done DIY Address Details
  • Done DIY Adds & Drops
  • To Do DIY Extension of studies
  • To Do DIY Form A and Form B (Will have to break up requests as the fileplan numbers differ)

7.1.11 Administration of mini-dissertations, dissertations and theses Title Registration

  • To Do DIY Title registration (dispute between faculties as to where the process starts – with the student or other parties)
  • To Do DIY Appointment of functionaries
  • To Do DIY Acceptance of functionaries
  • Registration of functionaries
    • Done DIY Guest Registration – HDA officials can register their functionaries (created in VSS PAR & provided with IT services to access the DIY portal (for approval) as well as eFundi access) Notice of Submission

  • In Progress DIY Notice of Submission due date end May (next nos period starts 1 Jun) Submission for Examination Administration

  • To Do DIY Solemn Declaration – specifications availalbe due date end June
  • To Do DIY CV & Appraisal form
  • To Do Investigate the examination process – where the documents must be stored and how parties will interact with the documents and results Results after examination

  • Done VSS STR Examination – for each submission capture the relevant information (notice of submission, solemn declaration, examiners, examiner result/mark, faculty mark and result)
  • In Progress VSS STR Examination – screens are changed to accommodate the DIY processes (this is managed within the specific DIY project)
  • To Do Honorarium claim form ( People & Culture development – Temp Claim Development project) Final copy administration

  • To Do DIY Upload final copy to OnBase Classification and declassification of minidissertations/dissertations/theses

  • To Do DIY Adding pending classification status

Study Guidance

  • To Do Study Guidance is not part of HDA development work, but is important for the postgraduate student process (Managed by CTL)

Documents (stored in OnBase) in VSS

Changes requested for OnBase.WAR (HDA-174) include:

  • To Do Java 8 & JBoss EAP 7 Upgrade
  • To Do OnBase API upgrade v15 to v17
  • To Do Securing the Onbase.war web service
  • To Do Introduce ownerId as link between OnBase document and business entity
  • To Do Security: only show certain user group/document types
  • To Do Add Keyword validation to Onbase.war service
  • To Do Changes to VSS and the Pontoon applications (specify certain documents that must be available on certain screens)


  • HDA is responsible to setup each correspondence document in VSS that will be needed for each process
  • To Do Cater for variables (captured in VSS/DIY) used in correspondence letters

VSS COR changes

  • In Progress Variables on correspondence documents
  • In Progress Automatic upload of correspondence documentation to OnBase due date end May

HDA documents currently uploaded to the M-drive

Project Discussion 11 Responses to Management Process for Higher Degrees Administration(HDA) – (BSS)

  1. This requirement if and when prioritised will be part of the SIS project Phase 1 to develop and maintain VSS as MVP till new solution implementation

    February 24, 2020 at 11:25 pm
  2. Will form art of 2020 scope and/or SIS project.

    December 11, 2019 at 11:23 am
  3. Due to resource issues and indecision by business on what is needed, this project is taking longer. In November 2018 this project’s priority was also lowered BUT with the understanding that the RSVP online system is completed sooner. The DIY RSVP system was completed in March 2019 as agreed.

    July 12, 2019 at 3:16 pm
  4. Project completed quite a lot already. ENtering DIY phase now and last VSS changes requested.

    Admissions & Applications DONE
    NRF reporting DONE
    Examination process DONE

    May 20, 2019 at 5:24 pm
  5. Awaiting feedback from RMC regarding the following :

    appointing dedicated Product Owner.
    Appointing Faculty to do pilot on Title Registrations and Notice of Submission

    February 14, 2017 at 11:24 am
  6. Started with training on NOtice of Submission, Title Registration and Modify of Titles – had meetings with faculties to discuss changes to these workflows. In the process of meeting with each faculty to determine requirements as the are very different.
    Development has started on the Update of BIographic info as well as contact info

    October 25, 2016 at 8:51 am
  7. Requested a presentation on system development for the post graduate process at the colloquium of 28 September. Will demo online application with supporting documents – artefact repository
    Automated documents and workflow
    E-fundi functionality for guidance of student & collaboration

    September 4, 2016 at 9:57 pm
  8. Notice of Submission, Title Registration, Title Modifcation has been demo’ed to user group at Potchefstroom Campus. Training will be done in the first week of Sept, where after the users will test these workflows.
    Analysis has been done on the processes :Update Personal Information and Update Contact Information

    August 19, 2016 at 11:44 am
  9. progress is made on notice of submission, title registration and modification as 1st priority documentation to automated. Currently tin final stage of the workflow implementations. Automated deployment management completed
    Feedback session in May with the post graduate administration group – business user up to date with progress and future planning

    Next step to finalize workflow of these 2 documents, deploy for testing by business users.

    May 31, 2016 at 8:44 am
  10. Some progress have been made on the TItle Registration and Notice of Submission processes – it’s a new framework, and the learning curve is high. Developers also spend fair number of hours on bugs for phase 1 which is already in production.

    Number of sessions with Potch Campus has taken place to discuss functional requirements.

    December 17, 2015 at 4:19 pm
  11. During the October 2015 RMC, the Registrars prioritised the replacement of paper forms and student requests as the next phase to be addressed in this project – resulting in the Study Guidance phase to be postponed.

    October 27, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Leave a Reply