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Student Analytics Project


Q. What is Student Analytics?

Student analytics is a new reporting service which provides information about the applicant and student cohorts at Cambridge.  Initially, it concentrates on graduate admissions, and will provide reports for colleges, faculties and the central administration to use to analyse the composition and behaviour of graduate applications.  Most reports will be presented either graphically or as tables, on dashboards.  Users will be able to change the results displayed on a dashboard by setting values on dropdowns (for example, term of admission, college, course).  This will allow comparisons to be made between similar types of cohort.  All reports are anonymised, and offer high level statistical analysis.

Student Analytics uses Oracle's OBIEE software.

Q. What is OBIEE?

OBIEE is Oracle's proprietary analytics and reporting system.  It can take data from numerous sources (for example, the SIS) to produce a variety of styles of analytic report.  The reports are typically grouped together according to category, and presented on a dashboard.  Users can see as many dashboards as they need to assist with their decision making.

Q. What are the benefits of OBIEE?

OBIEE is supported by some powerful technology which takes data from source systems (such as SIS) and transforms it from the transactional database format to a very fast and efficient reporting format called star schemas.  A star schema contains all the information needed to conduct analysis on a particular aspect of the student record, but has all the unnecessary data removed.  Typically, a query that takes several minutes to run in SIS will run in one or two seconds in OBIEE.

Some of the data will also be renamed, so that it better represents Cambridge terminology than some of the elements in the SIS.

Information is presented in ways that are easier to interpret - much of it can be displayed graphically, with contextual information available on popup displays.  It is also possible to "drill down" through a report from an initial summary to more finely detailed information.

Q. Why did we choose OBIEE?

The SIS is based on Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions.  Other of the University's central systems also use Oracle software.  OBIEE is also an Oracle product.  It comes with a set of tools which make it relatively straightforward to communicate with other Oracle systems in order to obtain data from them.  The presentation service, which displays the dashboards, is also straightforward to use.

Q. Will I need to have Student Analytics installed on my computer?

No, Student Analytics is web-based and can be accessed from anywhere using a web browser on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.  In due course we might produce a version for mobile phones, but that will be the subject of a later phase of work.

Q. Will Student Analytics be hard to use?

Our intention is that Student Analytics will be intuitive.  Each user will be able to set a home dashboard, and will be able to view analyses on that and any other public dashboard.  Each dashboard will present a related set of analyses which describe a particular part of the student or applicant population at a particular point, or over a period.  It will be possible to adjust the time, and the population, by setting values in dropdown or bullet lists on the dashboard.  These will control either the page in view, or all the pages of the dashboard - whichever is the case will be evident from the dashboard.

If you need any help using the system, a "How To" document can be found on the User Support page.

Q. Why not use The Student Information System?

SIS is a large transactional system.  It is designed to allow users to put data into it relatively quickly.  The underlying data structures are diverse, and there are a huge number of tables to report from.  This gives rise to three problems:

  • Understanding which tables are useful to report on is a skilled job.  It is easy to mistake similarly named tables for each other, and then to produce a report which does not give meaningful results.  It is also quite easy to join two tables incorrectly, which causes such problems as multiple results for the same student.
  • Because SIS has several different reporting methods (query, CamSIS Search, batch reports, CamSIS Filter ...) each perhaps using slightly different ways to process data, their results can be inconsistent.  This leads to lack of trust, even if at least one of the methods does produce a correct result.
  • Because the table structure is complex, a lot of processing can take place to produce what might appear to be a simple result - getting an answer can take a long time.  

Q. Will Student Information System reporting be discontinued?

No.  For the foreseeable future a lot of reporting will continue to be produced from SIS.  Some information, particularly statutory reports, is too complex to produce from a secondary system.

Q. Who will support Student Analytics?

When the service has been developed, it will be supported by the UIS support team. Until that point, the system is being supported by the project team. 

Q. What should I do to prepare?

At the moment, you don’t need to do anything.  Information about progress will appear on this website. If you are interested in being involved with any of the forthcoming projects, please contact the Student Analytics project team.

Q. How can I access the system?

If you would like access to the system, please email the Student Analytics project team, providing your full name, CRSid, your organisation and your role.

Q. Why can't I access the system?

If you already have a user account, and are experiencing difficulty accessing the system, this may be because access to the system has been restricted during a scheduled maintenance period. These maintenance periods are from 7am to 9am each Tuesday and Thursday.

If you are unable to access the system outside of these periods, please contact the Student Analytics team.



Q. What is a scheduled maintenance period?

Scheduled maintenance periods take place between 7am and 9am each Tuesday and Thursday morning. The periods are essential, as they allow us to release new content, fix any identified issues and upgrade the system.

During these periods the system may be unstable. This could lead to reports not functioning correctly, or data being incorrect. We may restrict access to the system during these periods to avoid any confusion or misleading reporting,