KFUPM upgrades for education excellence

Saudi Arabia’s KFUPM has completed an upgrade of its core Ellucian Banner and Luminis systems, to improve services and administration and prepare for new technology growth

Tags: EducationEllucian (www.ellucian.com)King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)Saudi Arabia
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KFUPM upgrades for education excellence Othman Al-Numair, Manager of Academic Information Systems, and Project Manager for the Banner & Luminis Upgrade project, KFUPM.
By  Mark Sutton Published  May 9, 2014

With a large youth population and a desire for key industries such as oil and gas to be staffed by local personnel, there is a strong focus in the GCC on providing the highest standards of education and training to create a skilled local workforce for vital sectors. Preparing young people to take on complex roles in primary sectors has become a major development goal for the region, with universities taking the lead in building cadres for the future requirements of industry.

Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) is one such institution, having established itself as a leader since its formation fifty years ago. The Dhahran-based university is one of the highest regarded education establishments in the fields of engineering and science, and it is also well established in computer science and industrial management. It is also one of the most selective academic institutes in the Kingdom, and is ranked among the top 300 universities worldwide.

KFUPM has a student body of around 9,000 students, with staff and faculty of around 3,000. With a focus on academic excellence, smooth management of the administration processes for the whole of the community is vital. The university has been using solutions from Ellucian (Higher Education Solution Provider), including the Banner administration solution and the Luminis portal, since May 2008. The Banner solution provided customised administration solutions across a range of functions, including Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions, Registration, Student Housing, Cooperative and Summer Training Programs, Counseling & Advising, Student Activities and Services, Student Fund and Alumni Management.

The Luminis portal solution was deployed to bring together a range of services and resources in an online portal, including learning resources, library and administrative services, group collaboration tools, e-mail and calendaring, in a single sign on portal.

The underlying databases for the solutions were based on Oracle technology, and the Banner system was implemented alongside Oracle eBusiness Suite, which provided specific business applications for different departments within KFUPM. The university also had a large amount of customisations and some in-house developed applications.

With an increase in the number of students and greater demand for services, however, by 2011, the staff saw some issues with the performance of the Banner system, mainly around availability.

Othman Al-Numair, Manager of Academic Information Systems, and Project Manager for the Banner & Luminis Upgrade project, KFUPM, explained: “During the last one and a half years, we noticed that the performance of Banner was not like before, we were not satisfied, and there were some complaints from the students during registration.

“Immediately we arranged meetings internally and formed a team to study and analyse this issue, and after communicating with Ellucian, they advised us that to improve the performance, the current system needed to be upgraded in terms of hardware and software,” he added.

With such a large user base, KFUPM considered changing to other solutions, but decided that it was best to stay with applications that the end user was familiar with, and which also presented a stable solution that the university was happy with. Consequently, the IT team began consultation with different end users and stakeholders to find out their requirements from the new solution.

One important element of any upgrade would be the need to create compatibility with newer systems, to enable the various solutions in use by KFUPM to be better integrated.

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