A revolutionary online enrolment system has just passed its first major test.
Central College of Commerce's Enquirer system, designed by a team from the Glasgow college, withstood the pressure of 2,000 do-it-yourself registrations at the beginning of the new session.
Every student successfully enrolled without a hitch in one week, using banks of terminals set up in the college's computer labs.
The system was financed by the Scottish Further Education Funding Council's strategic development fund and produces immediate student matriculation cards through web-cam photography.
Over the academic session, Enquirer provides students, customers, academic managers and support managers with real-time information on all aspects of the student's application and enrolment, and keeps them up to date with all class and course registers.
This information is available instantly on lecturers' desktops, removing the need for temporary registers.
Peter Duncan, the college's principal, said: "Our lecturers have all student and course information at their fingertips from the application stage, right through to enrolment and final resulting.
"Enquirer has made a significant quality improvement to all our systems and has alleviated some of the issues lecturers have to deal with every day, such as student attendance checks and resulting checks. We are absolutely delighted with the way Enquirer has performed during our full-time enrolment period.
"We were confident that the system would produce the results we wanted and we now intend to share this benefit with colleges throughout Scotland."
Mr Duncan added: "At Central College of Commerce we recognise the power of technology both to support the learning process and to aid college business processes. We are fortunate to have a talented team of IT professionals which is reflected in the depth of our IT courses as well as our leadership of college processes. Most of the further education sector in Scotland should benefit from our further developments."
Enquirer has proved so successful that it has been adopted by 17 other colleges across Scotland. Central College has just secured extra funding from the funding council to make Enquirer compatible with all major management information systems in FE. Most colleges will be able to use it as an add-on.
Central is one of the first colleges in the country to give part-time students the option of selecting a course from home or elsewhere and paying online by credit card. More than 30 per cent of Saturday class enrolments are booked and paid for online, with one student even enrolling on Christmas Day.
To view the system, see enrolme.centralcollege.ac.uk .