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What is a Student Information System and How Does it Work?

Student Information System
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What is a Student Information System?

A Student Information System, or SIS, is a web-based platform that helps schools and colleges take data online for easier management and better clarity. That's at its most basic. 

The SIS system is able to collect school-wide data online so that it can be easily accessed by teachers, parents, students, and administrators. That includes records of tests, attendance, appraisal performance, and plenty more. 

Essentially, a SIS allows the school to make data points for lots of areas in one place so that it's easy to keep track of progress and performance.

To be clear, it's an SIS we're talking about here, which can also break down into a Student Management System (SMS), Student Information Management System (SIMS), or Student Records System (SRS) - all created to help keep records digitally.

These systems can be used within a school for student data or information on the school as a whole. But the platforms can also be used to manage multiple institutions district-wide, say, to get a clearer view of how schools compare on very specific metrics.

The key with an SIS, over a more traditional WebCT, SCT Campus Pipeline, Jetspeed, or Blackboard, is that this online platform allows data that might otherwise be spread across multiple locations to be available in one easily accessible place.


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What is a Student Information System for?

The Student Information System is there to create a self-service solution for students to get their administrative tasks done in one place. Equally, it is can support faculty and staff by helping to simplify and integrate work processes.

Since the SIS can be used as a digital dropbox of sorts, it's ideal for parents who want to access information on their child, communicate with the school, and even make payments. 

The ability to standardize data formats between divisions means a more unified and clear data readout at a glance, ultimately saving time.

When it comes to student records, an SIS offers high efficiency as all data is automatically organized and stored for easy access whenever it is needed. 

Since the platform is cloud-based, is can be reconfigured as needed to make sure it grows with an institution. Most SIS offer open interfaces and integration with other campus applications and database systems, making for ease of use. 


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Student Information System features

Information storage is what an SIS does at its most basic. That means records consolidated all in one place for students, teachers, and parents to access. Reports can be created on anything, from how many students are local to what GPA is in any given class.

In the case of K-12, there are parent specific portals that allow guardians to access information on their student. This allows them to see attendance, academic planning, behavior, and more, as well as to communicate with teachers. At universities this is useful in a similar way to allow students and lecturers communicate privately. 

Administration for students is made easier with a Student Information System. Monitoring student progress and updating profiles often happens in real time. 

Bringing together otherwise siloed departments is a special feature of the SIS that is able to place information, data, and resources in a universally accessible place. This allows for open communication across an institution.

As all this data storage and handling is cloud-based, it means that it is super secure. Setup is often easier, access is wider, technical support is immediate, and adaptations to changes is more easily possible. 

Billing and payments can also be taken care of by the system. Parents or students can be invoiced, payments can be made, and the school can see and control it all from one place. 


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How admission works with a Student Information System

Admission is one of the best ways that a Student Information System can help processes find greater efficiency. The entire enrollment process can be tracked in one system, from initial inquiry to acceptance and enrollment. For example, an institution can use an auto reply feature to respond to student queries with a selection of standard responses – saving administrative time. 

This database that is built during the admission process can be used to send admission letters or regret letters to those prospective students. 

For those students inputting information, the system will store all the main and optional subject choices. This is then later used to automatically create subject classes and assignments for teachers.

In most cases, a centralized e-Advising system can send a preregistration notice to students. A web link can provide access to a complete academic planning network that includes information about various programs, courses, fee structures, further progress, and other employment openings. 

Details such as students seeking accommodation in a university scenario are kept separately for assigning rooms.


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Centralized accounting and billing with a Student Information System

One of the great ways integration happens using a Student Information System is with billing and accounting. This is also pulled into the administrative process allowing most of the processes to be automated. That, once again, means saving time and money.

Accounting features including maintaining a general ledger, billing for students, all payable and receivable details, and project funding and accounting details.

The inbuilt automated contact management software in the system enables systematic, regular mails with details about any fee paid or not yet paid by students. The shared database provides details of college, housing, or any other fee receivable from a single source for easy follow-up and future auditing.

These systems play a vital role in helping deserving students to apply for financial aid for continuing education. Information, such as various financial aid opportunities, total fund availability, budget allocation, and received applications with eligibility criteria, allows the system module to efficiently verify an application and allot aid. Systems can even be programmed to ensure the periodic and timely distribution of financial aid.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.