The NSW government is pushing ahead with a potentially costly replacement of TAFE’s short-lived student administration system, despite staff having fixed most of the issues plaguing the existing solution.
The student administration and learning management (SALM) system, sold to NSW TAFE by UK software provider Tribal, has been a nightmare for the vocational education agency.
It struggled to properly enrol students, and the state’s auditor-general refused to sign off on TAFE's 2014-15 books after concluding the agency was still in the dark about how much student revenue it had taken in during the year.
TAFE was forced to spend $10 million on an army of internal and KPMG accountants to track down a missing $138 million in course fees.
More than 85 workers dedicated their time to data cleansing, building a standalone database to quarantine cleansed data, and using this information to re-calculate the agency's bottom line.
The mammoth effort to patch up the system has meant the agency was able to successfully handle a 75 percent increase in customer enquiries, applications to enrol, and actual enrolments for the 2017 study year, it told iTnews.
“TAFE NSW has continued to maintain and stabilise the existing enrolment system and implemented a number of updates to improve the student experience," a spokesperson said.
“There are no systems issues preventing enrolments in 2017."
It also said it was not anticipating any trouble from the auditor-general this financial year, thanks to the work done remediating financial processes post 2014-15.
But despite the improvements, the government is sticking to its June 2016 decision to cut its losses and dump the Tribal platform in favour of a scalable, cloud-based alternative.
Assistant Skills Minister Adam Marshall said a new platform was still necessary.
“Staff at TAFE NSW have worked incredibly hard implementing work-arounds, successfully enrolling students and assisting them to achieve their qualifications to satisfy the audit office, however, the systems do need to be replaced,” he said.
“A tender process for a new system is underway at present."
He said the new system would “adapt more quickly to new policy settings” in the state’s vocational education system.
TAFE’s SALM forms part of the Education portfolio’s over-budget learning management and business reform program (LMBR).