The University of Toronto has launched a new version of the Degree Confirmation application, helping prospective employers, educational institutions and identity verification companies verify graduates’ credentials quickly and accurately.
The updated application provides an improved user experience along with automated search and matching capabilities that drastically reduce manual administrative processes.
“The previous application was complex and required organizations to enter a lot of information perfectly – keystroke for keystroke,” says Samantha Smith, assistant director with the Office of Convocation. “Now we’ve simplified the information required and we’ve streamlined processes to provide timely confirmation, ultimately helping graduates move on to their next steps.”
Instead of typing in a graduate’s full name, partial date of birth or student number, exact degree title and year of graduation, the updated application simply requires a graduate’s first and last name, partial date of birth, and if available, student number. Once personal information is provided, the application verifies credential information using U of T’s Student Information System.
If an organization is unable to verify a graduate’s credentials, due to multiple possible matches or a single partial match, the request is automatically sent to the Office of Convocation for follow up.
The streamlined process also allows organizations to submit multiple confirmations in one batch, pay for all confirmations at the same time and receive PDF and email receipt for their records.
To revamp the application, Enterprise Applications & Solutions Integration (EASI) worked in partnership with the Office of Convocation to research best practices at other educational institutions, analyze requirements and create prototypes for testing. They also worked closely with U of T’s Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Office to ensure compliance with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
“This project is a great example of collaboration between different areas of the university,” says Evan Moir, product manager with EASI. “It was really important to focus on a user-centred approach and to fully understand business needs through research and usability testing.”
This user-centred approach, and improved search and verification process, has drastically reduced manual workload for the Office of Convocation, which receives over 7,500 degree confirmation requests each year.
“In the past we would have between 600 to 780 follow-up requests per month. Now, we have between 250 and 350, and the system helps us conduct those follow ups quickly,” says Smith. “Degree confirmation requests peak in spring and fall which coincides with convocation and graduates applying for jobs. This updated application has reduced a significant workload during our peak time but as importantly, offers a fast, convenient, and reliable service.”
The Office of Convocation is responsible for the logistical details of the student and guest related elements of convocation for all university campuses and federated colleges. Annually, this totals 20,000 students and 40,000 guests. The office is also responsible for the reissue of degrees and diplomas, and certification of degree letters.
To date, the application has been highly successful. Since its launch in March 2022, 83 per cent of all degree confirmation requests were automatically resolved by the system, with only 17 per cent requiring manual follow up by the Office of Convocation.
“We’ve been really pleased with the updated application and we want a system that reflects well on the university,” says Smith. “The application provides quicker degree confirmations for organizations, lessens the workload for our staff, and ultimately provides timely support for our graduates to pursue further education and careers.”