Campus withdraws from Kuali Student software project

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With the end of its five-year commitment to the Kuali Student project — a software project that focuses on confronting the business needs of higher education — UC Berkeley has chosen to withdraw from the program this week.

In 2007, the campus decided to join companies and other universities around the country in founding the project, which develops software to respond to online student needs such as curriculum management and enrollment. However, after a recent evaluation of the project’s expected timeline, the campus has decided to withdraw its participation.

As a founding partner, the campus helped finance and allowed its staff members to work on the project. The total cost of the campus’s commitment to Kuali Student adds up to approximately $6.7 million, according to campus interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Lyle Nevels.

According to Associate Vice Chancellor of Admissions and Enrollment Anne De Luca, the main reason behind the campus’s decision to withdraw from the project is that the project’s timeline has been pushed too far back.

“When we became a founding partner of Kuali Student, our original vision was to have the software complete and implemented by 2012,” De Luca said. “How far the delivery date has been pushed back has caused us to rethink our strategy.”

At the project’s current pace, many of Kuali Student’s software programs won’t be available until 2014 or later, according to the three-year timeline for the project. For campus administrators, this is too late to deal with pressing student needs such as online registration, financial aid access and class scheduling.

“We need to move more quickly and in a more focused way to provide students the services they consider a priority,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

Now, De Luca said that the campus will be exploring other strategies.

“Our plan is to take information that we have gathered and go back to seeing what other types of solutions are available to meet our needs that can come more quickly than Kuali Student,” De Luca said.

Currently, a committee consisting of both students and faculty is looking at all the different needs of UC Berkeley students, according to Nevels. He also said that software availability on the market will heavily influence the campus’s new direction in approaching student needs.

“A team of folks have identified and outlined a student technology road map,” Nevels said. “There are a lot of elements to it.  We’ll look at all solutions available on the market and the elements that we feel we need to build internally. What internal work needs to be done depends on what’s available on the market.”

Though the campus has decided to withdraw from Kuali Student, the five-year commitment to the project has been very beneficial to the university, according to both De Luca and Nevels.

De Luca said software obtained from the program will be implemented in the coming school year to help with course management.

According to Nevels, the campus’s experience with Kuali Student will be important to its future efforts to meet student needs.

Both Nevels and De Luca also maintain the campus is still in full support of Kuali Student’s efforts.

“When Kuali Student is able to deliver various components that fit in our go-forward strategy, we will most definitely participate in those,” Nevels said. “We believe in Kuali Student, and we will continue to offer back to Kuali Student.”