A pair of Victoria-based educational organizations have teamed up to simplify the post-secondary application process by directly connecting career and school information with an online application service.

The partnership links the Centre

for Education Information and The EI Group in an effort to extend the Centre’s Post-secondary Application Service of British Columbia (PASBC) to students across North America.

When the service goes live this fall, potential students researching careers and related post-secondary programs in Canada and the United States on EI Group Web sites will be able to seamlessly apply to their desired program(s), according to Roberta Leach, executive vice president of The EI Group.

“”It’s a natural progression to go from traditional ads to direct ads to applicants to right to their doorsteps,”” Leach said. The EI Group sites include CampusStarter.com, SchoolsinCanada.com, SchoolsInTheUSA.com and GradSource.com

Ken Faris, a senior consultant with the Centre, said the application process for schools North America-wide will work in much the same manner as the process that has been used for PASBC since 1996. Students will fill out what he calls “”a vanilla application”” containing standard student information which is stored and can be used for all participating institutions. If the institution requires any unique information, the potential student will be automatically directed to new Web page where he or she will fill in the specified data.

“”When you actually look through all the application forms, 98 per cent is the same,”” Leach said, emphasizing the versatility of the “”vanilla”” application. “”The type of information (requested) is fairly consistent right across the board.””

Nineteen of B.C.’s 27 post-secondary institutions use the service; Faris said the Centre is working to sign up the remaining eight by the end of this year. For some of the schools — generally the smaller community colleges –the Centre hosts both their back end and front application systems. For other institutions, the Centre facilitates the application submission process and relays the application information to school databases.

“”If they want a flat file they can have that,”” Faris said. “”Whatever format their back-end systems can accommodate, they can grab that.””

The Centre, an independent agency that receives B.C. government funding, was created by the B.C. government in an effort to find efficiencies in the application process. Faris said that two e-applications can be processed in the same time as one paper application, and that the service brings a total of $270,000 in savings each year to the post-secondary school system in B.C.

Savings, he said, come in both administrative (data entry) and mail related (opening mail, sending replies) forms.

Susan Peters, assistant registrar at the University of British Columbia, said the service also affords students speedier application status checks as they can access status online with assigned reference numbers. Eighty-five percent of applications processed by UBC each year are e-applications, she said, “”and we would like to get it up to 100 per cent.””

PASBC served more than 100,000 students in 2001, Faris said, and many more will be using the Centre’s e-application technology once it is integrated with The EI Group’s sites this fall, according to Leach.

“”With any new product, it will grow over time, but there will definitely be a number of schools on board for September,”” she said, adding that response to the partnership with the Centre from institutions on both sides of the border has been positive.

Leach said the service will be an easier sell because of the experience the Centre has had with PASBC.

“”We’re not introducing something that still has bugs to get out of it,”” she said. “”We’re introducing something that’s proven and tested.””

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