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New degree auditing system will be good for USF

Switching to a new degree auditing system could save the University money and make assessment much easier for students and advisers. It only makes sense for USF to make the right call and move forward with the new system.

The current auditing system, the Student Academic Support System (SASS), is horribly outdated and costs the University $208,000 annually. Once implemented, DegreeWorks will cost only $20,000 to maintain after a few years of initial costs.

A SASS report generates a list of all college and major requirements a student must meet, with “OK” and “NO” respectively indicating satisfied and unsatisfied requirements. It is not at all user-friendly, and students must scroll through the entire report to figure out the classes they need in order to graduate, which is time consuming.

According to school officials, DegreeWorks is more accessible and utilizes updated technology to present degree information clearly. It is being tested in the colleges of Business Administration, Education and Nursing.

“The proposed time line is to roll out in fall 2010 for all students, contingent on a successful pilot,” said Glen Besterfield, associate dean of undergraduate studies.

SASS is only used in Florida while universities across the country have implemented DegreeWorks. A case study of Rhodes College in Tennessee found that DegreeWorks greatly helped advisers. Registrar Glenn W. Munson said it also put more responsibility in the hands of students.

“They don’t have to rely on someone else to tell them where they are or what they need to take next,” Munson said.

A case study of SASS by UCF doctoral student Helen Y. Hill found that with any online degree auditing system, personnel training is a key factor.

If USF advisers and administrators cannot use the software, it’s useless. The study found that Florida universities were not training new personnel, which meant only a few employees knew how to program the system.

“It was evident from discussions with those interviewed at the 11 state universities that in some cases, the use of the (SASS) had deteriorated when critical personnel turnovers occurred,” according to the report.

The University should take a long look at the trial runs with DegreeWorks. As long as USF keeps up with proper training of personnel, the new auditing system will greatly benefit students and advisers.