Universitšt Duisburg-Essen
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Research/Tools and databases for the organisation.../Digida

Tools for the management of applicant data - DIGIDA

Background

The university of Duisburg-Essen has recently undertaken structural changes of fundamental importance to its further development. The faculty of engineering has decided to institute, supplementary to its Diplom courses, a faculty wide internationally oriented Bachelor / Masters structures for all engineering course offerings. This structure is encapsulated under the designation International Studies in Engineering (ISE) and comprises 6 and 5 internationally oriented Bachelor and Masters courses respectively.

The makeup of international courses with Bachelors and Masters degrees has not only an effect on the structure of the courses, but also on the tools for their administration. In the department of computer engineering, tools and databases for the administration of international courses were developed in the DIGIDA project, and used. This project arose in the course of setting up the first internationally oriented course Computer science and communications engineering, which, with funding from the DAAD, was already instituted by 1997 at the Gerhard Mercator University of Duisburg and represents an important foundation for ISE.

Methods and objectives of study guidance

Guidance over the internet is becoming increasingly important, alongside the classical, personal conversation. Nowadays, the first contact often takes place via the internet. Even study guidance is not out of the question. Students abroad who are interested in studying one of the international courses of International Studies in Engineering generally first come in contact with the university via the internet. They read the information on the homepage of the study program or write specific questions via email.

With an increasing number of applicants, it is imperative moreover, to work out methods with which recurrent work sequences can be automatised. Through this, the staff members gain more free time e.g: during the processing of applications, for personal study guidance, which never can or should entirely be replaced by electronic guidance. Besides, students from abroad have a multitude of questions in advance concerning studies in Germany and the bureaucratic particularities of the country.

The DIGIDA tool

The DIGIDA system is a tool for the administration and maintenance of an applicants database available online, whose goal it is to manage the data of people who have applied for an internationally oriented course within the ISE program at the university of Duisburg-Essen. The tool works within a browser window independent of platform.

Potential students must satisfy several admission prerequisites, dependent on chosen field of study, before they can be issued an admission into an internationally oriented course by the foreign student office. These admission prerequisites are, in addition to a university entrance requirement, exemplarily the supporting documents for German and English linguistic proficiency and respectively subject-specific knowledge.

With the DIGIDA system, it is possible to:

  • obtain an overview of all the interested in a course
  • attend specifically to outstanding candidates,
  • manage applications depending on the interested and course,
  • obtain an overview on the rejected and skipped applicants,
  • obtain a quick overview of the state of an application,
  • automatise recurrent work sequences,
  • automatically notify applicants upon the reception of their application and, where applicable, on unavailable documents and
  • inform the applicant online at all times on the status of their application by means of a personal login.

For better guidance which takes place following the first contact per email, telephone and personal dialogue, basic information on the applicant is gathered in order to better be able to cater to the specific needs of a candidate, should there be a need for personal guidance. For this purpose, relevant personal data on the interested are prompted and automatically saved in a database whenever detailed information on the course and application form are fetched from the homepage. During consultation, this information can be retrieved and, where applicable, be added to.

During the submission of the application and after queries of the user, standardised procedures are automatically carried out by the system. The software checks autonomously, for example, during the submission of an application, whether all the required documents for the specific course have been included and automatically sends an email with a confirmation of receipt and, where applicable, an indication of what documents are missing. Simultaneously, time-frames are defined within which an automatic email reminder is generated in case the yet to be handed in documents have not yet been submitted. Also, the applicant can be automatically notified upon a change in status of his/her application.

The basic functionality of DIGIDA is geared towards the life-cycle of an application.

Architecture and security

The DIGIDA tool is realised as a Client / Server system which comprises of a public and private part. The different parts can be installed on separate servers for security reasons. The front-end on the client side consists of a standard browser, and on the server side, a web server and an SQL database are needed. The application was implemented by means of the PHP scripting language, whereas a client sided scripting language was completely abstained from in order to ensure maximum possible compatibility with standard browsers of different developers.

The use of the tool is strictly restricted to authenticated users. In addition to a user name and password, even more authentication mechanisms are implemented that govern access control. Access control occurs on several levels:

  • Web server and operating system
  • SQL-Server
  • Application

Demo

Should you ever want to try the DIGIDA system out, this is how you can apply for access. After having received your login and password, you can start directly here www.fb9dv.uni-duisburg.de/digida-online

We always welcome criticisms, suggestions and comments.


Funded projects in the area of work

Publications in the area of work

Theses in the area of work

Contact (Dipl.-Ing. Frank Schwarz)

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