New technology simplifies university application process

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HALIFAX – Students will soon be able to apply to multiple universities in Nova Scotia with just one application form, making it easier and less stressful to pursue post-secondary education.

The one-stop, online application portal, announced Monday, is one of a number of innovative projects universities and the province will work on together to encourage more students to continue their education and prepare for the good jobs on the horizon.

"A university degree is an important first step towards finding a good job, developing a rewarding career and building stronger families and communities," said Premier Darrell Dexter. "I understand how frustrating and time-consuming it is for students to provide the same information multiple times to multiple universities. A common online application system will enable students to spend more time on their studies and less time filling out paperwork."

The province is investing $400,000 as the first step in the development of an application portal. The study will look at the maximum benefit for students, for example, allowing high school students to submit electronic transcripts of their marks, and mature students to apply for advanced standing, based on the skills and experience they have acquired through jobs or volunteer work.

Application portal funding is coming from the $25-million Innovation Fund the province established in 2011. The fund helps universities deliver high-quality education to students while exploring ways to reduce operating costs.

Every university in the province is receiving innovation funding this year to enhance learning opportunities and services for students, to become more energy efficient, and to make better use of technology.

"Nova Scotia's university presidents have been working together to improve operational efficiencies and recognize the importance of collaboration," said Ray Ivany, president of Acadia University and chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents. "Support from the Excellence and Innovation Fund will help us investigate common IT and library services, as well as shared delivery in areas like student recruitment, admissions and transfer credit assessment.

"Ultimately, a closer-knit university system will benefit all stakeholders and help maintain Nova Scotia's reputation for offering students excellence in university education."

The province and universities are announcing details of these projects this week, valued at more than $13 million. This brings the province's investment in university innovation to $15 million over the past two years.

Other projects announced today include:

-- a national and international recruitment strategy for all universities. Until now, universities have competed for students. This project will encourage them to develop a national and international student recruitment strategy that will benefit all institutions. ($998,000)

-- a shared IT service, including a pilot project on a common e-mail, calendar and collaboration tool, expected to create significant savings for universities ($1.1 million)

-- a common set of spring and summer courses, so universities can offer complementary, instead of competitive, courses that will attract more students. Students could also more easily transfer these credits, using a common university portal ($345,000)

-- a financial and business plan for shared library services, which is expected to create significant savings for universities ($250,000)  

"Nova Scotians are facing unprecedented opportunities, including shipbuilding, Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link, and billions of dollars in new investments in the province's offshore," said Premier Dexter. "The majority of the jobs that will come with these projects will require some level of college or post-secondary education. Making it easier to apply to university is an important step in helping ensure more students are ready for these good jobs."

The province is also making it more affordable for students to attend university.

"This government has made historic investments in student assistance, including introducing the province's first-ever debt cap," said Premier Dexter. "This support is helping to ensure students have more money available to them to pursue their education and less to pay back afterward."


Organizations: Acadia University, Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, Excellence and Innovation Fund Maritime Link

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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