USF to implement new degree auditing system

By Kristina Heritage, CORRESPONDENT
On October 8, 2009

In tough economic times, a new degree auditing system could save the University thousands, said Christopher Cobb, director of Student Information Services.


The new system, DegreeWorks, will cost $20,000 annually to maintain after the first few years of initial costs for using the Web-based software program, said Glen Besterfield, associate dean of undergraduate studies.

The University currently pays $208,000 a year for the Student Academic Support System (SASS), which is based in Tallahassee, Cobb said.


Because DegreeWorks is made by the same company that runs USF's Online Access Student Information System (OASIS), the University was able to "work out some pricing deals," Besterfield said.


Those savings are "significant," Cobb said.


A degree auditing system compares students' transcripts with the graduation requirements for their major, and shows students and advisers what credits are still needed to graduate, Besterfield said.


DegreeWorks, scheduled to be implemented in fall 2010, will be much easier for students to use, he said.


"(DegreeWorks is) a much more modern product, using much more current technology," Cobb said.


USF will run DegreeWorks, and students will be able to access it using their NetID, said User Applications Specialist Sean Gilmore. SASS is over 30 years old, he said.


"It's extremely archaic," Besterfield said. "You could basically go three or four years as a student and never go into (SASS) because it's so ugly."


Changing to a newer auditing system has been "in the works for four or five years," he said.


A committee of advisers, administrators and students was formed a year and a half ago to evaluate different auditing systems, Besterfield said. DegreeWorks received "overwhelming" support, he said.


"(DegreeWorks is) very student-friendly … very student intuitive," Besterfield said.


DegreeWorks is being tested in the colleges of Business Administration, Education and nursing, Cobb said.


"The proposed time line is to roll out in fall 2010 for all students, contingent on a successful pilot," Besterfield said. "But it is very aggressive, just 10 months away."


One reason the University is switching from SASS to DegreeWorks is to "improve advising and completion rates," Cobb said.


"We want to see more people graduate with the right number of credits and in four or six years," Cobb said. "That's the real driver behind it."

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