Next Generation Student Information Services

Project Summary Report:
September 2020 – December 2021

(Updated November 2021)


The goal of the Next Generation Student Information Services Program (NGSIS) is to create and deploy technological solutions that help students fully engage in rewarding learning experiences and achieve academic and personal success, and that help faculty and staff provide a rich and supportive educational environment.

Through targeted investment in information technology, over the past eight years, NGSIS has introduced a wide variety of new services for students and staff, providing real-time information about all aspects of the student experience. As a result, NGSIS is now actively supporting over 25 individual student and administrative applications in addition to the current core Student Information System (SIS)/ROSI system. Included in this list are some of the most successful NGSIS services for students, faculty, and staff, such as ACORN, Degree Explorer, and more recently, Award Explorer, the Course Information System and Accommodated Testing Services (ATS).

As with many operational teams at U of T, the NGSIS development team had to pivot quickly in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhancements and adjustments to SIS for credit/no credit, student attendance and online course delivery options diverted, and continue to divert, resources from previously planned projects. In addition, the need for a new student advising platform (CRM) to help manage student information as a result of the new remote work and classroom settings has become a top priority for U of T.

Despite these pressures, the NGSIS team was able to make significant progress on a number of fronts over the past 12 months. In order to help U of T chart a new course forward in replacing and/or renewing our core SIS, the team was able to complete two investigative exercises, an environmental scan of potential student information systems in the marketplace, and a prototype of a new ROSI administrative user experience.

Through this work, we have established that currently there are no vendor or cloud-based solutions that will easily accommodate U of T’s requirements. As mature cloud solutions are likely years away, U of T should continue to keep an eye on the marketplace but also invest in current solutions such as ACORN, Degree Explorer, Course Information System and Award Explorer. In addition, consideration should be given to improving the ROSI user experience using in-house resources over the next several years.

For a more detailed explanation of these strategic recommendations and specific projects for the coming year, please explore the remaining sections of this report.

Focus for NGSIS: Sept. 2020 - Dec. 2021


SIS Core Module Improvements

A Proposed Evolution of ROSI: Continued Modernization

In 2020, following the successful transition of the ROSI mainframe system to a Java/Linux platform, the NGSIS team turned their attention to the future of ROSI Core operations. While immediate issues such as system performance were addressed through the NGSIS Platform Modernization Project, ROSI itself continues to be a legacy application, and questions remain regarding the future of our core student system. Should U of T replace ROSI with a modern cloud-based vendor product; should we redevelop this system using the latest in Java development tools; or should our future direction include a combination of both vendor and homegrown solutions?

In addition to these questions, one of the larger requirements to emerge over the past 12 months has been the need for a student advising Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool for U of T. Recognizing that this requirement may overlap with some of the desired improvements typically found within a new student system, a number of formative research activities were initiated in 2020 to help inform our future direction:

  1. With the assistance of Deloitte Consulting, an environmental scan of potential student system vendor solutions, as well as a scan of current student advising CRMs, was completed.
  2. With the assistance of a user experience design specialist, a prototype of a new ROSI administrative user experience was developed for feedback.

Through this work, a number of recommendations were provided to senior leadership, which now form the basis for our project plans for the next 12 to 18 months. In summary:

  1. At this time, there are no vendor or cloud-based solutions that will easily accommodate U of T’s requirements. As mature cloud solutions are likely years away, U of T should continue to keep an eye on this marketplace but maintain the current system.
  2. The CRM vendor market is mature and would be a good place for U of T to make a substantial investment at this time. This work would complement the eventual renewal of the student system.
  3. Options to substantially improve the current administrative user experience within ROSI using in-house resources could take years but may be a valid option while we wait for a full system replacement in the future.
  4. The team should continue to improve real-time system integration options for NGSIS applications and divisional sub-systems using the Azure platform and the new ROSI operational data store to fully leverage our current system.
  5. Investments in current products such as ACORN, Degree Explorer, Course Information System and Award Explorer should continue for U of T.
Projects Underway for 2020 – 2021 Impacting Core ROSI Operations

Student Success Hub – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The Student Advising initiative will complete an enterprise implementation of the Salesforce Advisor Link platform with the goal of enabling consistent, best practice advising within and between divisions through effective and efficient access to, interaction with, and management of a comprehensive student advising record.

Advising provides the opportunity for students to seek – and for the institution to initiate and provide – support and advice about academic, administrative, financial, and personal well-being issues to help students achieve their personal and academic goals. It also supports institutional goals of ensuring student success, providing quality service, achieving recruiting, retention, and graduation targets, and engaging with alumni.

Building on the work done in 2020, the team gathered implementation requirements and published a vendor RFP that closed in May 2021. Over the summer, the team finalized much of the scope for phase 1 with the goal of starting the development and implementation effort in November. The team is currently in a vendor negotiation phase with Salesforce from a licensing perspective and with the implementation partner selected through the RFP process. The target date for a phase 1 pilot is summer 2022 followed by a full rollout for the Faculty of Arts & Science as well as the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education during the fall of 2022.

Financial Aid & Awards

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the project scope was scaled down and Enrolment Services took the lead in the fall of 2020. Development of the system’s auto-matching function, which automatically matches students with awards, was put on pause for further analysis and resources were redirected to implement other key functions within the scope of the Award Explorer project. This functionality includes the Online Award Record Form and the Fund & Budget Manager Module, which launched in summer 2021. These additions are key supports in underpinning the auto-matching function.

  • Online Award Record Form (July 2021)
    This function standardizes the entire Award Record Approval process across U of T with a new portal for staff. New and enhanced workflows will guide users through each step for creating, amending and inactivating awards, replacing the current, and difficult-to-navigate, PDF and email process. On-screen guidance and form validation will reduce errors and better align award conditions in preparation for auto-matching. Additional data collection will better support award adjudication and reporting.
  • Display FIS Fund Balance (July 2021)
    This module provides award administrators with access to view FIS award account balances in near real-time via an API with SAP. As well, in future, it will provide tools to create and track award budgets and disbursement activity over the fiscal year. This integration will increase the transparency of award funds availability and spending with a goal to reduce over/under spending of award funds and maximize funding for students. In addition to improved fiscal reporting, the FIS data will be an essential input for auto-matching.
  • Online Student Award Portal (Fall 2022)
    Planning and requirement gathering is currently underway for the next phase of the project – an Online Student Award Portal with a standardized award profile. This new online student portal will increase award funding opportunities and the standardized award profile will minimize the number of award applications that students are required to complete. The launch of the Student Award Portal for a targeted population, with the pilot of several competitive award applications, is anticipated for fall 2022.

Authentication / Authorization

  • Authentication
    Since 2004, web applications at U of T have been integrated with Shibboleth Single Sign-On, also known as WebLogin, for user authentication. Once authenticated using Shibboleth, users can access other web applications without re-authenticating (except for high-assurance applications such as ROSI, which require authentication every time). UTORid is the credential used for Shibboleth. Modern applications now use a different method to authenticate users, called Open ID Connect (OIDC), which is compatible with a broader number of applications, including native mobile applications. U of T will support both types of authentication methods (Shibboleth and OIDC). Applications that integrate with Microsoft 365, e.g., to access SharePoint documents, will need to authenticate users using Azure AD.
  • Authorization
    User authorizations (i.e., determining what a user is allowed to access/execute in an application) need to be finer-grained than in the past due to increased security risks. U of T has established a department, called Institutional Research and Data Governance (IRDG), to assist with determining and managing the levels of authorization needed by each type of role. Applications and systems (e.g., Degree Explorer) usually have their own authorization mechanisms, which makes it difficult to maintain the correct authorizations as people and devices/components, move or change status, since each application or system must be updated individually. The solution is to consolidate the authorization methods into a limited number of options. This approach improves the manageability of authorizations, and new technologies will enable finer-grained authorizations for student-related applications. A proof-of-concept project will start late in 2021 to determine the appropriate technologies to support Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) in addition to Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). The new solution will address both humans and devices/components that act on behalf of humans or in their own rights (e.g., robots), and is expected to integrate with the new Identity and Access Management platform to be deployed by Information Security. Once implemented, applications will be modified one by one to integrate and support the new ABAC capabilities. ABAC will enable U of T to improve compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the General Data Protection Regulation, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (where applicable), improve on-boarding and off-boarding efficiencies, and simplify operations.

Online Administrative Student Information Services (OASIS)
The Online Administrative Student Information Services (OASIS) uses Azure Cloud Services to address the need for new functionality in ROSI.

The NGSIS Digital Platform enables modern methods and processes for developing new functionality in ROSI. Instead of adding code or modifying some of the 4.5 million lines of code in the ROSI application, which incurs a certain level of risk every time the code is changed, new services are created separately in the NGSIS Digital Platform. This separation means the ROSI code remains untouched, and the risks are avoided.

The first new function for administrators is Absence Declaration – a service that enables students to declare absences using ACORN, and administrators can manage this information using the OASIS Absence Declaration service. Functionality was released at the beginning of July 2021.

Additional services will be added to OASIS as required (following the ROSI Change Advisory Board processes) and will be integrated with ROSI or other future systems, such as Academic Advising.

ROSI Express (RXP)
With the development of a new modernized platform in OASIS, the opportunity exists to move and expand functionality from ROSI Express.

ROSI Express was developed in 2006 as an example of what a web-based ROSI administrative application might be. While it was found very useful by a limited number of administrators, ROSI Express never received the funding to expand its repertoire of fourteen functions (ROSI itself has over 1,900 functions). ROSI Express was expanded to accommodate functions that didn’t quite fit into ROSI – Convocation ticketing, for example, and a handful of reports. The software stack has aged slowly and now represents a technical debt that needs to be addressed.

EASI has developed a modern Digital Platform for NGSIS (featured in the next section of this document) to accommodate APIs and Microservices, and new online administrative student information services (OASIS) can be created on this platform. ROSI Express will be re-imagined and migrated to the NGSIS Digital Platform, providing a modern AODA-compliant user interface and improved functionality and usability. It will use the new authentication and authorization methods.

The reports in ROSI Express will be migrated to Power BI.


Convocation modules are to be developed for Diploma management, in tandem with the RXP to OASIS migration.

  • A – Milestone: Phase 2 - Soft Launch (May 2022), Occurs May 2022
  • B – Milestone: Phase 3 - Go Live (Sept 2022), Occurs September 2022
  • C – Milestone: Complete RFP, Occurs April 2021
  • D – Task: Create & Validate Requirements, Starts January 2021, Ends April 2021
  • E – Task: Create & Finalize RFP, Starts January 2021, Ends April 2021
  • F – Task: Publish RFP, Starts April 2021, Ends May 2021
  • G – Milestone: Complete Procurement, Begin Discovery Phase (Scope Finalization), Occurs August 2021
  • H – Task: Procurement Process, Starts May 2021, Ends August 2021
  • I – Task: Finalize Product Scope for Phase 1, Starts August 2021, Ends December 2021
  • J – Task: Validate & Finalize Business Process, Starts March 2021, Ends December 2021
  • A – Milestone: Pilot Application Launch (2022), Occurs December 2022
  • B – Milestone: API w. SAP Go Live, Occurs August 2021
  • C – Milestone: Online Awards Record Form, Occurs August 2021
  • D – Milestone: Display FIS Fund Balance Target Launch, Occurs August 2021
  • E – Task: Develop Online Awards Record Form, Starts January 2021, Ends August 2021
  • F – Task: Display FIS Fund Balance, Starts January 2021, Ends August 2021
  • G – Task: Develop Student Module & Award Profile w. Pilot Application & Budget Manager, Starts August 2021, Ends April 2022

NGSIS Digital Platform

U of T has contracted with some of the leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms in the past few years and the demand for integration with our core Systems of Record has increased significantly.

Over the past decade, a standard method for integrating systems has emerged, including a standard to secure such methods. EASI has established resources in the Microsoft Azure Cloud that support these standards and facilitate the exchange of data between the core systems and the SaaS platforms.

A diagram that shows how the NGSIS Digital Platform integrates with other systems
The diagram consists of four major areas, or layers, and a fifth layer for identity and access management. At the top is the first layer consisting of the major Software-as-a-Service platforms that the University uses, such as Salesforce, Office 365, Slate, and Quercus. At the bottom is a layer that represents the core University systems such as ROSI and SAP (Finance, HR). On the right-hand side is a vertical layer that represents the Institutional Research Data Governance services for predictive analytics. Historical data is stored in this layer. The NGSIS Digital Platform is a new layer that sits between these other layers. This layer has the modern technology to integrate with the others. The NGSIS Digital Platform facilitates the flow of data between all the layers, enabling the University to exchange information with any of the integrated platforms, as required by the institutional processes. The identity and access management layer is the last layer, depicted horizontally and connected to all the other layers. It is expected that the majority of the platforms, if not all of them, will integrate with the University’s Identity and Access Management platform to facilitate authentication and authorization for people and systems.
The NGSIS Digital Platform enables integration with other systems and platforms to support the efficient flow of institutional data.

The benefit to users is that this provides the right data being securely available to the right people at the right time. The NGSIS Digital Platform enables more than just real-time integration – it also supports new functionality such as the new Absence Declaration for ROSI.

Replicating ROSI Data

One of the goals of the new platform was to enable real-time integration with other systems using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

In order to create this integration, the ROSI production data is copied to a real-time replica in the Azure Cloud and becomes part of the Operational Data Store (ODS). This replica supports read-only queries from APIs and reporting services such as Tableau.

The ODS is also intended to be used by divisions to store their unique student data and be able to develop queries and reports that act on both the ROSI replica data and their own data, avoiding the need to download ROSI data and store it securely. The University of Toronto Scarborough Co-Op program was the first department to trial this new service.

Leveraging API Development

A number of APIs have integrated Rotman School of Management’s implementation of Salesforce with ROSI, and one of these APIs creates candidacy records for Rotman applicants in the production ROSI database. This is the first programmatic update of ROSI by an external system (in this case it is Salesforce).

A total of 22 other APIs are currently in production, including:

  • Candidacy, Admissions and Confirmation APIs (for Rotman and SGS/Slate admissions applications)
  • Degree Confirmation APIs
  • Job Evaluation API
  • Absence Declaration APIs
  • Phonebook APIs
  • SharePoint API
  • Student Profile API
  • Accommodated Testing Services APIs

Batch Processor Streamlining

The NGSIS team continues to explore the option of deploying a new workload (batch job) scheduler and/or enhancements to the existing workload scheduler to allow divisions more flexibility in scheduling their batch jobs. In concert with the ROSI Change Advisory Board, a focus group has been established to investigate and identify requirements for both the Workload Scheduler as well as the overall process through which administrators capture information and deliver requests for ad hoc divisional batch jobs. Two immediate improvements have been introduced: the Production Control Team is now able to exercise greater flexibility in scheduling short-term or ad hoc production runs; the development team has written a procedure to promote individual ‘overnight’ processes to same-day runs on an ad hoc basis. Further improvements may be possible after EASI and the focus group review ROSI-initiated procedures to identify which may be switched from overnight to same day, and which may be released to users instead of requiring Production Control staff.

Operational and Academic Reporting (2021)

Members of the SIS and Operations teams have been working to implement Microsoft Power BI and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) as the platform for the delivery of operational reports for administrative users across U of T. The system will provide more options for cross-database reporting, faster development time and a more user-friendly user interface than currently available for ROSI-based reports. Priority is being given to Curriculum Management reports currently based in iHub (formerly known as BIRT), but other domains will be added soon afterward, including CIS. A new cross-functional technical and product team has been created for the purpose of prioritization and development of U of T’s ongoing reporting requirements.

  • A – Milestone: Share in CAB, Occurs November 2021
  • B – Task: Gather Divisional Requirements, Starts June 2021, Ends November 2021
  • A – Task: Formalize Request Process, Starts February 2021, Ends July 2021
  • B – Task: Evaluate Request Process, Starts July 2021, Ends October 2021
  • C – Task: SGS / Engineering, Starts April 2021, Ends November 2021
  • D – Task: Timetable Builder APIs, Starts June 2021, Ends October 2021
  • E – Task: Convocation APIs, Starts October 2021, Ends December 2021
  • F – Task: Share API Queue, Starts July 2021, Ends October 2021
  • A – Task: Conversion of CM Reports, Starts January 2021, Ends December 2021
  • B – Task: Explore Conversion of ROSI Express Reports, Starts July 2021, Ends December 2021
  • C – Task: Explore Ad Hoc Divisional Use, Starts July 2021, Ends December 2021
  • A – Milestone: Recommendation 2022, Occurs December 2022
  • B – Task: Absence Declaration, Starts January 2021, Ends July 2021
  • C – Task: Explore RXP Re-platforming & Enhancing, Starts October 2021, Ends December 2021
  • D – Task: ROSI Main Menu, Starts July 2021, Ends December 2021
  • E – Task: Reporting / BI, Starts October 2021, Ends December 2021

Course Management Systems

Development of new functionality and extension of implementation to additional divisions remains a focus with the set of applications that support the administration of course and program development, review and approval, and publication and offering. While separate, these applications are being developed with points of integration with each other and with other NGSIS services.

Course Information System (CIS):

The Course Information System supports the following undergraduate divisions:

  • Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering (Exam Module)
  • Faculty of Arts & Science
  • Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education
  • Faculty of Music
  • John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
  • University of Toronto Scarborough

The Course Information System has been successfully rolled out to most of U of T’s first-entry undergraduate divisions. The CIS team is working with the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering to develop an end-to-end Syllabi Creation Module. This year, the team also collaborated closely with the University of Toronto Mississauga to complete our investigation to determine their best CIS onboarding strategy. The team is currently working with UTM to review resource requirements and finalize their onboarding timeline.

Projects for 2021 – 2022

Looking ahead, CIS is planning for future releases that will include the following enhancements:

  • A new end-to-end Syllabi Creation Module that would enable an instructor to create a syllabus for their course completely within CIS.
Projects Completed

The import of Course tagging from CM has been implemented to enable course instructors to identify and associate specific learning experiences as components expected to be completed by all enrolled students. This functionality will support clarity and transparency regarding student learning experiences within their programs and courses. In addition, additional functionality was delivered to allow instructors to provide additional session-specific information (subcategories) to course experience tags imported from Curriculum Management (see the entry for Curriculum Management).

Changes were delivered to support divisions on their requirements to address the COVID-19 situation. These far-reaching changes involved updates to the CIS system’s Syllabi, Exam Details and Final Exam modules to accommodate the collection of information for a hybrid course delivery approach.

Administrative controls are now available in CIS that allow divisional administrators the ability to configure when modules are available to their instructors. Administrators can also cross-list or group sections within a course or multiple courses, to allow for single submissions of details by instructors.

Administrators can also set deadlines for required submissions and have the system send automated reminders to instructors to submit information on time.

Administrators can now also access previous sessional data stored in CIS. This new functionality offers our administrators their data in a well-organized and easy-to-retrieve format while saving time for them, as there is no more need for storing and managing copies of information offline. In addition, it increases the overall security of the system as it ensures that only the right people can access the right files, which is of critical importance given the highly confidential nature of our documents.

The Exam Module in CIS has a complete, electronic end-to-end exam workflow. This process allows instructors to enter exam details, print options and upload their exams. Department administrators and chairs are then able to review and print exams, or electronically send them to an approved print location.

The Syllabus Module has implemented four areas of functionality:

  • Basic Course Information: This information provides instructors with a high-level overview of important information regarding their courses such as sessional dates, requisite information, and lecture times and locations.
  • Marking Scheme: This function allows instructors to complete the grading assessments for their course and receive immediate feedback regarding faculty and U of T policies and guidelines.
  • Syllabi Policy and Procedure Statements: This section allows instructors to select from a list of required, recommended, and optional faculty and U of T policy statements. They also have the option to revise these statements or create their own and save them for later use.
  • Syllabus upload and download

Accommodated Testing Services (ATS)

Started in March of 2019, and formerly known as Test and Exam Services, the new Accommodated Testing Services (ATS) project leverages NGSIS products to introduce significant benefits to students registering for accommodated test writings; for instructors providing test details and documents; and for administrators tasked with keeping ATS processes working efficiently and in a timely manner. The system is being designed and implemented to support the administration of Accommodated Tests and Exams. Instructors, students and administrative staff will find the new process seamless, transparent and intuitive, providing easy online access to information through pre-existing U of T platforms. There will be multiple phases to this initiative. The ATS application is deployed in the new Azure Cloud, utilizing API calls residing also in the cloud.

Projects for 2021 – 2022

Phase 2 of the project will include the launch of a student request module on ACORN and the continued roll-out of a new Accommodated Testing Services administrative application. Phase 2 expected completion is winter 2022.

Following phase 2, phase 3 will focus on enhancing the various system components via rolling production releases, until all in-scope processes are completed and stabilized. There is also a plan to expand the work done within ATS to Accessibility Services. Requirements exploration will begin in the form of a discovery phase next year

Projects Completed

For phase 1, ATS completed two pilots (fall 2019 and winter 2020) that included participation from the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, the Faculty of Arts & Science (three departments), the Faculty of Law, and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The Accommodated Testing module in CIS was rolled out to all University of Toronto St. George (UTSG) instructors in fall 2020. Based on feedback received from instructors, administrators and ATS staff in fall 2020, a series of enhancements were rolled out during the winter 2021 and summer 2021 sessions. Additionally, new administrative functionality was introduced for academic administrators to manage accommodated testing within their units.

Curriculum Management (CM):

Curriculum Management was the first product to be delivered through our original partnership with Kuali Inc.

The application allows divisions to create, maintain and retire courses and programs using customized divisional governance processes, and in tandem, allows NGSIS to create a central repository of courses and programs for U of T which can be integrated with various NGSIS systems. The SIS team has also developed specialized governance committee reports as well as diagnostic reports and lists for the divisions. Curriculum Management (CM) data is also exported for inclusion in publications generated by Curriculum Publisher (CP).

Projects for 2021 – 2022

Work for 2021-2022 includes the implementation of a new authorization framework. The remaining second-entry divisions will be approached to implement the application. We will also work with divisions currently using CM at the undergraduate level to import and manage their graduate courses. Analysis work will be undertaken to extend the configuration to cover the complexities of graduate program structures at U of T.

Course Experience Tagging

The Office of the Vice-Provost – Innovations in Undergraduate Education has been working with divisions to define data categories to identify courses designed to include work-integrated learning activities. These data points have been created in CM and are available to divisions to include in course proposals and revisions in the 2021-22 governance cycle. The data is available to the CIS and will be incorporated in CM data incorporated in Calendars and Timetable Builder.

Projects Completed

From 2019 to 2020, CM was extended to six divisions bringing the total to 10. This means that CM now covers all first-entry programs at U of T, which represents 89 percent of undergraduate courses. That course information is available to other systems, including Course Finder, Timetable Builder, ACORN, and the Course Information System, and is viewable by students and faculty. The divisions currently using CM are listed below.

In 2020, a new workflow tool developed by Kuali was implemented to allow for more flexible configurations of divisional governance pathways. It will also make it possible to manage multi-division graduate courses through parallel governance review.

Curriculum Publisher (CP):

Curriculum Publisher (CP) is a U of T developed content management website that optionally interfaces with Kuali Curriculum Management (CM), allowing divisions to publish a public-facing Calendar or Academic Handbook. CP has undergone a major technical upgrade to Drupal 8.

Projects for 2021 – 2022

The University of Toronto Mississauga calendar was published in June 2021, which set a milestone for the project. CP sites are now in place for all the divisions using CM either for undergraduate calendars or graduate handbooks. The School of Graduate Studies calendar and the Faculty of Medicine MD program handbook are published in CP, although they do not yet make use of CM.

As divisions implement CM, CP will be made available, and we will work with the divisions to create new structures and templates for their calendars.

Technical upgrades were completed to move CP to cloud hosting in 2020. Each Calendar instance in CP was upgraded to Drupal 8 in 2020/21 and to Drupal 9 in the fall of 2021.

Curriculum Management Curriculum Publisher
Curriculum Management & Curriculum Publisher Usage Undergraduate Courses & Programs Graduate Courses Calendar / Handbook
First Entry
Faculty of Arts & Science X Calendar
University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) X Calendar
University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Calendar
John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design Calendar
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering X Calendar
Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education X Calendar
Faculty of Music X Calendar
Second Entry & Graduate
Faculty of Information Both
Faculty of Medicine X X Handbook
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) X Handbook
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy X Calendar
School of Graduate Studies X X Calendar

Last updated November 2021

  • A – Milestone: CIS 5.13.0 Release, Occurs March 2021
  • B – Milestone: CIS 5.15.0 Release, Occurs April 2021
  • C – Task: Designates Functionality, Starts January 2021, Ends March 2021
  • D – Task: Priority Enhancements, Starts January 2021, Ends April 2021
  • E – Milestone: 1.10 Release, Occurs December 2022
  • F – Task: Test & Exam Booking and Administration, Starts January 2021, Ends January 2022
  • G – Task: Student Request Interface, Starts January 2021, Ends January 2022
  • A – Milestone: 5.14.0 Release, Occurs March 2021
  • B – Task: Admin Access to Previous Sessional Data, Starts January 2021, Ends March 2021
  • C – Milestone: 5.17.0 Release, Occurs July 2021
  • D – Milestone: Core Release 2022, Occurs December 2022
  • E – Task: Course Tagging, Starts April 2021, Ends July 2021
  • F – Task: COVID Changes, Starts April 2021, Ends July 2021
  • G – Task: Syllabi Creation, Starts April 2021, Ends April 2022
  • H – Task: Reporting, Starts October 2021, Ends April 2022
  • A – Task: UTM Calendar, Starts January 2021, Ends July 2021
  • B – Task: Course Experience Tagging, Starts June 2021, Ends September 2021
  • C – Task: Graduate Program Analysis, Starts November 2021, Ends January 2022

Service Innovation

At the core of NGSIS is service innovation, resulting in new applications that consolidate online services for faculty, staff and students, simplify operations, and empower students to make informed decisions while attending U of T. New and improved web applications delivered or underway by the NGSIS team include the following:

Projects for 2021 – 2022

Timetable Builder Expansion (Winter 2022)

The redesigned and cloud-based Timetable Builder will allow students to craft and optimize their course schedule. After a successful pilot at the University of Toronto Scarborough, this service will be enhanced and released more broadly across U of T to students in additional divisions. Improvements to the Timetable Builder will include broader course search functionality, natural language explanation of enrolment controls, and section, course and department level comments currently only available in some divisional timetables.

In addition to the student-facing Timetable Builder, divisional administrators will be able to use OASIS to access the Timetable Builder administrative interface. This interface gives academic divisions the ability to create a “legend” of division-specific information that will be displayed with each of its courses, as well as functionality to create and edit course or section-level notes individually or via a batch file upload. This functionality will be released for testing in November 2021 for project release in winter 2022.

Since the improved Timetable Builder will include all the functionality currently available in Course Finder, the latter application will be retired at the end of the winter 2022 session.

Degree Confirmation (Winter 2022)

Degree Confirmation allows third parties to verify that alumni have U of T credentials, and all public details associated with those credentials. In 2019, analysis and consultations were undertaken with stakeholders to determine requirements to replace the existing application, leading to recommendations to buy or build a new system. An environmental scan determined that no appropriate vendor products are available, and the decision was made to commence internal development in the summer of 2020. The new solution requirements include the delivery of a new application with an improved user experience that incorporates the concept of ambiguous follow-up requests to help ensure a higher rate of successful requests. Other requirements include the ability to submit an arbitrary number of requests in a single financial transaction, for large volume clients such as job placement agencies, as well as administrative screens for staff in the Office of Convocation to effectively manage requests that can’t be automatically classified by the system. This new application resides in the Azure Cloud. Additional functionality has been added to the roadmap over 2021, setting the current target completion date to winter 2022.

Degree Explorer Enhancements (2022)

Degree Explorer is an application that helps students keep track of incomplete, pending or completed requirements. The Degree Explorer Student Planner was upgraded to include several critical enhancements, improved general usability and navigation of existing features (summer 2020). At that time, Degree Explorer Student released an updated version with a rearranged Current Status page to show clear degree and program requirement progress. It also now offers a more intuitive display that shows information more clearly and students can create a maximum of 10 plans compared to the previous five. In 2022, further enhancements are planned to create a more accessible experience that aligns with AODA and WCAG guidelines, as well as optimizing the application for use with mobile devices.

Transfer Explorer / Transfer Navigator Replacement (2022)

A requirements analysis for a new version of this product has been completed. An environmental scan determined that a vendor solution that would meet institutional and divisional needs is not available. It has become apparent that U of T requires more than a replacement of the existing database and needs a workflow tool for administrators to manage the application and assessment process for transfer credits as well. Development will likely proceed in phases, starting with the replacement of the existing database and administrative screens. An assessment of available resources and a possible timeline for development is being considered for the first phase in 2022.

Projects Completed

Sun-Setting Online Calendar (Winter 2021)

In the winter and early spring of 2020, the remaining divisions using the Online Calendar tool implemented CM and CP. Historical data for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering in the Online Calendar that had been read in Degree Explorer was transferred to CM and new integration points were established. The user interface for the Calendar was no longer required, though we chose to retain the database for a while longer. The Online Calendar was formally retired in winter 2021.

  • A – Milestone: Decommissioning, Occurs February 2021
  • B – Task: Process Documentation, Starts January 2021, Ends February 2021
  • A – Milestone: Full Launch 2022, Occurs December 2022
  • B – Milestone: Sun-Set Course Finder 2022, Occurs December 2022
  • C – Milestone: Product Ready, Occurs January 2022
  • D – Task: Additional Student Functionality, Starts August 2021, Ends September 2021
  • E – Task: Administrator Functionality, Starts August 2021, Ends December 2021
  • A – Milestone: Deployment, Occurs November 2021
  • B – Task: Development, Starts June 2021, Ends October 2021
  • C – Task: Monitor Feedback, Starts November 2021, Ends December 2021

Response to COVID-19

Since mid-March 2020, the NGSIS development team has had to focus attention on many unplanned activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhancements and adjustments to SIS for Credit (CR)/No Credit (NCR), student attendance and online course delivery options diverted, and continue to divert, resources from previously planned projects.

Provided below in detail are the projects requested by divisions that required significant changes to the systems to meet this urgent need:

Course Delivery Modes (May 25 – June 1, 2021)

Adding new Delivery Modes for exams and final assessments to ensure that students will know if they are required to be on campus. The delivery modes introduced in 2020 were intended to be for the duration of the pandemic. Academic leadership has determined that additional distinctions and descriptions are required as we continue to work within pandemic restrictions. The codes and descriptions have been updated in ROSI and ACORN. EASI will work with divisions where course scheduling data may need to be updated.


ACORN Emergency Contacts (June 6 – July 10, 2020)

  • Work was performed to improve notification functionality for students who haven’t completed their Emergency Contacts Record in ACORN.

Course Delivery Modes (May 4 – June 30, 2020)

  • Adjustments were performed to ROSI and ACORN to reflect new delivery arrangements (In-Person, Online Synchronous, Online Asynchronous), related to COVID-19 planning.
  • Modifications were made in ROSI to add new Course Delivery Mode codes and development work was performed to deprecate old codes, and to add dates to codes to enforce validation. The Room Reservation System’s (RRS) upload and download processes were altered to include Delivery Mode to enable correct updates of the new modes in all RRS functionality. Additional database updates were made to assist divisions.
  • Development work was performed in multiple ACORN modules to change the way that Delivery Modes and their descriptions were displayed, including adding descriptions that had not previously existed.

Expansion of Credit/No-Credit (March 20 – June 19, 2020)

  • There was a significant development and configuration effort to waive the system limitations placed on CR/NCR for the Faculty of Arts & Science courses in the 2021 session (i.e. the winter session), allowing students to request more than the previous limit of CR/NCR courses, and to waive some restrictions placed on the use of these courses to satisfy course prerequisites or program requirements. Additional effort was undertaken to allow students to request Faculty of Arts & Science CR/NCR designations after the end of term and to extend CR/NCR functionality for the session to additional divisions (i.e. Faculty of Applied Sciences & Engineering, Faculty of Dentistry and the School of Graduate Studies).
  • Development work was performed within ROSI and ACORN while the configuration work was done at the Course/POSt/Division levels.

Global Changes to Summer F & Y Course Locations (March 30 – April 24, 2020)

  • Database updates and display modifications were made in ACORN to modify course locations displayed to students.
  • Work was primarily done in ACORN and the ROSI database.

ROSI Express Absence Declaration Reports (March 12 – April 17, 2020)

  • Reports were developed to allow divisions and departments to track absence declarations.

Suppression of April Exam Locations (March 20 – March 25, 2020)

  • Database updates and display modifications were made in ACORN to remove exam locations.
  • Work was performed in ACORN.

Modifications to the ACORN Absence Declaration Form (March 13 – March 19, 2020)

  • Modifications were made to the ACORN absence declaration form to add to the number of rows/days that can be declared. This form was previously used only within the University of Toronto Mississauga. Modifications were made to open access to students in all divisions.
  • Work was primarily done in ACORN.

ROSI Change Advisory Board and Ongoing Operations

ROSI Change Advisory Board (Ongoing)

While a great deal of effort has been focused on other projects listed in this report, as well as more recent needs to address COVID-19 related issues, the SIS and User Experience and Process Design teams have continued to develop enhancements approved and prioritized by the ROSI Change Advisory Board (CAB) or mandated by the government or institutional requirements.

Projects for 2021 – 2022

While this contains a list of completed and new projects, there are many projects associated with the pandemic response that can be found in this report’s Response to COVID-19 section.

  • Support for changes to OUAC processes for applications, admissions and transcript exchange.
  • Support for changes to student aid processes (OSAP, UTAPS).
  • Improvements to ROSI Web Service APIs.
  • Changes and new data extracts where APIs cannot be used by the receiving unit.
Projects Completed
  • Changes to student profile screens and updates to processes to receive the display name a student may request through the UTORauth office. Changes were also made to the HRIS to ROSI data feed to use faculty members’ display names in instructor records on course sections.
  • Changes to and testing of enrolment extracts to accommodate fundamental changes to reporting requirements by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
  • Changes to various extracts to support institutional and divisional systems to accommodate new security, business or application requirements. (e.g., Quercus, UTORauth, divisional student portals).
  • Overhaul of admission correspondence items and subprograms (tokens) to accommodate government requirements (e.g., immigration) or divisional needs.
  • Changes to support multi-institution degrees and programs.
  • Changes to processes supporting admission deposit requirements and payments.
  • Batch Process Streamlining.

OUAC Ongoing Changes, Workflow Maintenance & Enhancements:

Current Maintenance work:

Each year, the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) introduces changes to the exchange processes for application and admissions data due to internal requirements and in response to requests from universities and colleges. In advance of each applications cycle, we review and analyze the changes and amend our own processes and timing before restarting procedures for the year.

Completed changes:

Reduced the latency of data and improved interaction with Enrolment Services’ Slate system, by adjusting the timing of scheduled procedures, automating others, and enhancing other efficiencies in the procedures themselves. This brings the data in ROSI, Slate and OUAC into closer alignment while we investigate more dynamic data interchange.

OUAC announced that it will be phasing out the use of the EDI file format (for transcripts) by September 2022 (admission cycle 2023), replacing it with the XML format. The change was performed to align and remain current with data standards from the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council.

Future changes:

ROSI exchanges transcripts with other institutions through the OUAC’s eTranscript system. This initiative from OUAC requires us to change our system to be able to SEND and RECEIVE transcripts in the new XML format (from the current EDI/delimited flat-file format), based on OUAC’s system changes for this work (including the mapping of the two sets of transactions that handle the complete workflow of the transcript requests). Work to have all changes in place in advance of the deadline is on track for completion in Fall 2022.

ACORN and RXP Support Functional & Technical Debt (Ongoing)

Various updates requested by stakeholder groups will be addressed, as well as re-writing code (ACORN Angular update, migrating RXP functions to OASIS) to improve performance, enhance security, address deficiencies, add more comprehensive test cases, etc.

Refactoring ROSI Course Instructor Assignments – Investigation (Fall 2021)

In order to assign instructor and coordinator roles in courses for ROSI and CIS, and improve integration with other systems, solutions to better manage the identification of faculty and staff from U of T and the Federated Colleges are being investigated.

Where NGSIS is Making an Impact

Savings Analysis 2012 – 2020

Project Name Estimated Savings
Degree Explorer (8 years) $2,045,740
StarRez (8 years) $635,652
eMarks (6 years) $416,216
Varsity Blues (8 years) $33,672
Student Accounts (SCLM) (5 years) $76,970
Curriculum Publisher (4 years) $309,200
Course Information System (4 years) $568,628
Transfer Explorer (4 years) $80,496

Year 1 to Year 8

Savings: $4,476,782


10 tons of paper eliminated per year, 240 trees saved per year, and 12,295 employee hours saved per year


Webpage Views November 1, 2020 to November 1, 2021

ACORN   —   96,378,967

Degree Explorer   —   1,127,773

Timetable Builder   —   49,962

Transfer Explorer   —   73,837

Course Information System   —   486,083

Financial Planner   —   192,362

StarRez   —   79,078

Course Finder   —   898,924