The University of Newcastle in Australia has awarded IT services company DXC Technology a three-year contract to manage its student management system, it was announced today. The deal will see DXC take over running the university’s in-house developed Student Management Package (SMP) system which manages core student administration functions including admissions, enrolments, graduations, and maintaining student records.
The SMP system was originally developed by the university over 20 years ago and has been expanded and updated over time to keep pace with technology advancements and changing business needs. It enables the university to manage the entire student lifecycle from initial enquiry and application through to graduation and alumni relations.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Alex Zelinsky, said the deal with DXC would enable the university to focus on its core mission of delivering high quality teaching, learning and research. “This agreement will allow us to focus on our students while leveraging DXC’s technical expertise to manage, enhance and support our critical SMP system,” Professor Zelinsky said.
DXC will take responsibility for day-to-day management, hosting and support of SMP, as well as implementing new features and upgrades to improve system capability and performance. The company will also manage integrations between SMP and other third party or in-house developed systems at the university.
“We are delighted to be entrusted with managing this strategically important system at one of Australia’s leading universities,” said DXC regional general manager Matthew Finnis. “Our expertise in SMP, as well as broader higher education domain knowledge, will help the University of Newcastle get the most value from their student management environment.”
The University of Newcastle has around 40,000 students enrolled, including 6,000 international students from more than 115 countries. Its campus is located in the city of Newcastle in the state of New South Wales, about two hours north of Sydney. It offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across its faculties of Business and Law, Education and Arts, Engineering, Health and Medicine, and Science.
The SMP system manages key processes that affect every student at the university throughout their time there. This includes handling applications for admission, enrolling students in courses and classes, tracking their academic progress, calculating fees, recording grades, facilitating graduations, and more. It also integrates with financial, human resources, facilities and other systems across the institution.
By outsourcing SMP management to DXC, the university aims to reduce operating costs and risk, while enabling its own IT staff to focus on other high-priority digital transformation and customer-focused projects. With DXC managing routine system maintenance and upgrades, the university can devote more resources to new system functionality that enhances student and faculty experiences.
The three-year contract is worth $18 million and commenced on November 1, 2023. DXC will provide services through a dedicated SMP support team along with drawing on wider expertise within the company as required. Support will be provided 24/7 in order to ensure any system issues are promptly resolved.
DXC has extensive experience developing, implementing and managing large-scale student management solutions for higher education clients around the world. The company will leverage its global higher education delivery network and standardized tools, processes and best practices to efficiently operate and upgrade SMP on behalf of the University of Newcastle.
“We will bring the full breadth of our higher education capabilities to drive continuous improvement for this critical system,” Finnis said about the deal. “Our support will also be tailored to meet the specific needs of the University of Newcastle as we help them deliver outstanding experiences and outcomes for their students, faculty and staff.”
Professor Zelinsky said while cost reduction was one driver for outsourcing SMP to DXC, improving system capability, performance and student outcomes were equally important factors.
“We undertook an extensive market evaluation and due diligence process before selecting DXC as our preferred SMP managed services provider,” the Vice-Chancellor explained. “As well as proven delivery expertise, DXC offered the best cultural fit and vision for enhancing our student management environment.”
The University of Newcastle will retain ownership of SMP and oversight of the contract with DXC. Key library and infrastructure services supporting the system will continue being performed by the university under guidance from DXC. The university and DXC have formed a joint SMP governance council involving IT and business process leaders on both sides.
For DXC, winning the SMP deal bolsters its presence in the Australian higher education sector. The company has developed significant capabilities through its long history of serving universities in Australia and worldwide. DXC has implemented student management solutions at over 150 higher education institutions globally.
“We are seeing more universities look to optimize limited resources by leveraging managed services providers like DXC for key IT systems,” observed DXC’s Asia head of education, Ranganath Puranik. “Our repeat business with satisfied clients demonstrates our expertise delivering value for complex university environments.”
Puranik said DXC remains committed to ongoing investment and innovation in platforms like SMP to maintain its position as a higher education IT leader. He highlighted growing demand from universities for improved self-service, automation, analytics and mobile capabilities from student management systems.
“Today’s students and staff expect advanced digital services and real-time engagement from their institutions,” Puranik said. “We will collaborate closely with the University of Newcastle to ensure SMP evolves to enable great experiences for their diverse community now and into the future.”
For its part, the University of Newcastle plans to exploit the benefits of transferring SMP management to DXC to make transformational changes to the way it operates. The Vice-Chancellor revealed the university will undertake a broad process improvement initiative with support from DXC targeting its student administration model.
“While technology is important, equally vital is ensuring our business processes, policies and organizational structures are optimized for the digital era,” Professor Zelinsky commented. “By teaming up with DXC, we will not only enhance our core student platform but revolutionize the way we serve students, academics and professional staff.”
Zelinsky said taking full advantage of contemporary best practices and innovations would help cement the University of Newcastle’s reputation as one of Australia’s leading modern universities. He pointed to rival institutions that have achieved major efficiency and service quality gains through student management transformation programs.
“We must continue putting students at the center of everything we do,” Zelinsky stated. “Technology transformation is a key enabler, however, reimagining student administration from the ground up will be critical to deliver the experience our community expects from a dynamic, future-focused university.”
The Vice-Chancellor confirmed the process improvement initiative would be sponsored by the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor of Students and Registrar, Professor Melanie Walker. Walker will work closely with DXC on executing the program, which will include detailed reviews of:
– Student policies and processes spanning the entire life cycle
– Support services from first enquiry through to graduation and alumni
– Staff roles and responsibilities within student administration
– Optimal use of SMP functionality
– Integration points with other IT systems
– Data practices, compliance and cyber security
– Adoption of automation, AI and advanced technologies
Walker said the process improvement program presents an invaluable opportunity to holistically reinvent the University of Newcastle’s student administrative environment.
“While we have implemented enhancements over the years, this is a chance to transform the entire student journey from start to finish leveraging DXC’s outside-in perspective,” Walker explained. “The goal is creating a next generation operating model that delivers personal, connected and frictionless experiences at scale.”
The Pro Vice-Chancellor said the university had dedicated a project team resourced by both business and IT professionals to work full time on the process reinvention alongside DXC. She added that all stakeholders including student groups would be extensively consulted throughout the transformation journey.
For its part, DXC confirmed it had assigned some of its most experienced higher education specialists to collaborate on the process improvement initiative. The company said it would provide both strategic advice and hands-on delivery capabilities to streamline and digitize student administration.
According to DXC’s Ranganath Puranik, the process transformation program further elevates the partnership between DXC and the University of Newcastle.
“While taking over SMP management will deliver immediate benefits, we are most excited by this opportunity to help reimagine how the university serves its students,” Puranik remarked. “Together, we will develop a modern blueprint for student administration that enables exceptional digital experiences and outcomes.”
The University of Newcastle’s Professor Zelinsky maintains the focus throughout will remain firmly on students. “Today’s young people expect world-class digital services. By reinventing student administration in partnership with DXC, we will exceed those expectations and reinforce why the University of Newcastle is a university of choice.”
Zelinsky said that shifting SMP responsibility to DXC combined with an intensive process improvement program positions the university for a bright future. “Technology and process excellence will help us transform the student experience. But above all, this transformation will unlock our full capacity to empower students to change the world when they leave here.”