Next Generation Student Information Services

Project Summary Report:
September 2021 – December 2022

(Updated April 2022)


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. 2021 - Dec. 2022


Student Advising Service

The Student Advising Service initiative will complete an enterprise implementation of the Salesforce Student Success Hub for Higher Education 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.

Building on the work done in 2020-21, the team selected Huron Consulting Group as the University’s partner for the initial discovery phase of the project. The discovery phase aims at establishing the scope and pace of initial implementation in the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education and a framework for future onboarding of additional divisions. The target date for Phase 1 Foundational Release is Fall 2022. Further rollout will occur throughout Spring and Fall of 2023 with a second round of divisions to be onboarded identified in Summer and Fall 2022.

Some of the potential benefits from the Phase 1 Foundational Release include:

  • Foundational Data and Security Model
  • Central source of truth for student interactions
  • Staff Referrals – Case Management
  • Student Requests – A&S OFR and Colleges Manual Case Creation from Email
  • Internal Knowledge Base
  • Staff Appointment Scheduling

And the Key Integrations proposed for Phase 1 include:

  • ROSI Integration
  • SharePoint Integration
  • TCard Photo Integration
  • Logging/Auditing
  • Outlook Integration (Plug In)
  • Staff SSO
  • A – Milestone: Complete Discovery Phase, Occurs May 2022
  • B – Milestone: Fall Release, Occurs November 2022
  • C – Task: Finalize Product Scope, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • D – Task: Confirm and Configure Content for Fall Release, Starts May 2022, Ends November 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.

A Proposed Evolution of ROSI: Continued Modernization

ROSI itself continues to be a legacy application, albeit a web-based one, 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? Should U of T consider using an API-centric approach to enable composite applications that use functionality from multiple applications, including Salesforce, ROSI and SharePoint?

In 2021, the implementation of a Salesforce Student Success Hub solution for academic advising was begun. An implementation partner was engaged to conduct a Discovery Phase and refine the requirements as they pertain to a Salesforce-based solution.

The Salesforce implementation is an example of the University adopting a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, hosted by an external party, to support the functionality the University needs. Other SaaS platforms are in use (e.g., Quercus, Office 365), and more will be adopted in the future (e.g. for experiential learning), so the next IT challenge is modifying these platforms to meet any unique needs the University has. One option is to modify the platforms themselves, but this has negative consequences when the platforms are upgraded by the vendors, requiring the University to regression test its own modifications and make any changes to comply with the updates made by the vendors.

To address the challenge described above and prepare the University for future SaaS integrations, an initiative to design and implement a new User Interface framework with a new API-centric architecture for administrative systems was instigated. These additional components constitute an additional layer of abstraction on top of the SaaS platforms.

Most SaaS platforms support a rich set of APIs that are used to support integration with other systems. These APIs change far less often than the other parts of the platforms. The NGSIS Digital Platform, described in more detail in this document, can call these APIs, thereby transferring data into or out of these platforms on behalf of users or other systems. Custom-built APIs can also be created to provide unique functionality when no other platform can provide it.

The new User Interface framework, named OASIS (Online Administrative Student Information Services), can be used to support academic or administrative processes that require interaction with one or more SaaS platforms. Using an in-house designed and developed framework provides the flexibility needed to interface across multiple platforms, using the platforms own APIs to access functionality and combining the functions to support the business processes needed. This approach avoids modifying the SaaS platforms and enables the integrated flow of data from one platform to another, supporting one or more processes in real-time.

The new integration capabilities, with the new User Interface framework, will enable the University to use a variety of different SaaS platforms, each suited for a particular purpose, and combine them to support unique business processes without major changes to the platforms themselves. ROSI data and business logic can be integrated using the same capabilities. Pertinent data from these systems are expected to be transferred to the Institutional Research and Data Governance (IRDG) Data Lake for institutional reporting purposes, and if necessary, archiving.

Apart from a few SaaS platforms designed specifically for Higher Education, most others are business applications with modifications to support some Higher Education specifics. Even fewer can deal with UofT’s unique processes and size. API-centric architecture introduces more complexity but provides the flexibility that the University needs to support its own processes without having to completely custom-build its own core applications, or having to heavily modify the user interfaces and functionality of other commercial platforms.

This hybrid approach appears to be worth further consideration as it can support the unique functionality the University needs and avoids the market-related costs associated with external implementation vendors.

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

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.

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.

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 has been given to Curriculum Management reports currently based in iHub (formerly known as BIRT) and staff in governance offices have begun testing the new reports against those in iHub (April 2022). Other domains will be added soon, including CIS, ATS and a greater number of Absence Declaration reports. 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 – Task: Evaluate Request Process, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • B – Task: SGS / Engineering, Starts January 2022, Ends April 2022
  • C – Task: Engineering - Open API, Starts April 2022, Ends July 2022
  • D – Task: Convocation APIs, Starts April 2022, Ends November 2022
  • E – Task: API Management View, Starts January 2022, Ends July 2022
  • A – Task: Conversion of CM in Reports, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • B – Task: Explore Conversion of ROSI Express Reports, Starts July 2022, Ends January 2023
  • C – Task: Explore Ad Hoc Divisional Use, Starts July 2022, Ends January 2023
  • D – Milestone: Deploy RXP Reports (2023), Occurs January 2023

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 Syllabus Builder Module, which will be extended to include the Faculty of Arts & Science afterwards. 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.
  • Implementing existing functionality for undergraduate courses in the University of Toronto Mississauga.
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 allows 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 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 2022 – 2023

Phase 2 of the project will include the launch of a student request module on ACORN and the full roll-out of a new Accommodated Testing Services administrative application. Phase 2 expected completion is at the end of the calendar year 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 this 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 at key times of the year between the winter 2021 and winter 2022 sessions. Additionally, new administrative functionality was introduced for academic administrators to manage accommodated testing within their units and the first modules of the new ATS staff system were completed.

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 as well as data needs in the Office of the Vice-Provost Academic Programs and in the School of Graduate Studies with respect to tracking programs and academic change.

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 so 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 April 2022

  • A – Milestone: 6.0.0 Release, Occurs March 2022
  • B – Milestone: 6.3.0 Release, Occurs August 2022
  • C – Task: Angular 12 Hybrid, Starts January 2022, Ends February 2022
  • D – Task: Syllabi Builder - Pilot 1 (FASE), Starts January 2022, Ends August 2022
  • E – Task: Syllabi Builder - Pilot 2 (FAS), Starts May 2022, Ends November 2022
  • F – Task: Syllabi Builder - Pilot 3 (UTSC), Starts August 2022, Ends January 2023
  • G – Task: Syllabi Builder - Winter Enhancements, Starts May 2022, Ends October 2022
  • H – Task: Syllabi Builder - Fall Updates (FAS), Starts May 2022, Ends August 2022
  • I – Task: Final Exam Modules (UTM), Starts June 2022, Ends January 2023
  • A – Milestone: CIS 6.1.0, Occurs May 2022
  • B – Task: Upgrades & Workflow Enhancements, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • C – Milestone: ATS 1.2.0 Release, Occurs June 2022
  • D – Task: Test Definitions & Workflow, Starts January 2022, Ends June 2022
  • E – Task: Test Bookings, Student Functionality, Starts January 2022, Ends June 2022
  • F – Task: Export to Clockwork, Instructor II, Space Allocation I, Student II, Starts July 2022, Ends January 2023
  • A – Task: Curriculum Publisher - Calendar Updates, Starts January 2022, Ends August 2022
  • B – Task: Drupal 10 Update, Starts August 2022, Ends November 2022
  • C – Task: Graduate Program Analysis, Starts June 2022, Ends January 2023

Service Innovation

At the core of NGSIS is service innovation, resulting in the continued rollout of 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

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 and other Software-as-a-Service platforms.

The NGSIS Digital Platform enables modern methods and processes for developing new functionality in ROSI, or adding functionality to existing platforms such as Salesforce, or Quercus. 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. Instead of extensively modifying the user interfaces of a SaaS package like Salesforce, OASIS can be used to integrate with APIs provided by Salesforce and implement the new functionality.

The first new OASIS 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. New functionality was added in January 2022 for divisional administrators to add or upload course notes for display in the enhanced Timetable Builder.

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. OASIS will be used to integrate Salesforce with SharePoint to support Document Management for 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.

Timetable Builder Expansion (Summer 2022)

The redesigned and cloud-based Timetable Builder will allow students to craft and optimize their course schedules. 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 spring 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.

Financial Aid & Awards

Building on the online Award Record Form and SAP integration that was implemented in 2021 the Award Explorer project is on track to deliver increased functionality and end user support in 2022. This includes enhancements to existing features in prod, the creation of training videos for staff, and the configuration and development of new modules in the system to support award adjudication. Upcoming functionality includes:

  • Award Spending Manager (May 2022)
    This module allows admin users to track spending by fiscal year for their awards. Each award spending record interacts with the award repository and fund manager records to pull in key award and funding data such as award conditions and FIS funds availability to make decisions on how much to spend each year. Authorized users can input and approve opening balances and future releases will track disbursement activity and reserve funds for deferrals and renewal awards. The award spending record statuses align with the award record lifecycle to automatically update as awards are created, amended or inactivated. 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. This consolidated database of award spending will offer improved fiscal reporting and 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 university-wide award applications, is anticipated for fall 2022.

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 was added to the roadmap over 2021. The new Degree Confirmation system was launched on March 1, 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 optimize 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. Work began in Winter 2022 on the first phase of the project, replacement and upgrade of the repository of transfer credit equivalencies and is projected to be completed within 2022. Phase two, a system to manage the intake of transfer credit requests, and the review and approval of equivalencies will be accomplished at a later date.

  • A – Task: Review Intake Methodology, Prioritization Strategy, Starts April 2022, Ends October 2022
  • B – Task: Reporting Assessment, Starts May 2022, Ends July 2022
  • A – Milestone: Product Ready, Occurs May 2022
  • B – Task: Student & Admin Functionality, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • C – Milestone: Full Launch, Occurs June 2022
  • D – Task: UAT 2.0, Starts May 2022, Ends June 2022
  • A – Task: Business Analysis for Student Module & Award Profile w. Pilot Application, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • B – Milestone: Awards Spending Manager Module Launch, Occurs June 2022
  • C – Task: Configure & Test Awards Spending Manager, Starts January 2022, Ends May 2022
  • D – Milestone: Pilot Application Launch, Occurs November 2022
  • E – Task: Configure Student Module & Award Profile w. Pilot Application, Starts June 2022, Ends October 2022
  • A – Milestone: Full Launch, Occurs March 2022
  • B – Task: Development, Starts January 2022, Ends March 2022
  • C – Task: Monitor Feedback, Starts March 2022, Ends July 2022

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. Further refinement of the codes is being implemented in ROSI, ACORN, the CIS and Timetable Builder for the Summer and Fall sessions of 2022.


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 – 2022

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 April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022

ACORN   —   100,417,963

Degree Explorer   —   1,112,806

Timetable Builder   —   45,972

Transfer Explorer   —   71,349

Course Information System   —   537,468

Financial Planner   —   171,868

StarRez   —   81,399

Course Finder   —   875,872