News

New check-in system to improve services to international visitors

by Keri Bradford | Jan 05, 2018

Tablets speed triage of student and scholars’ needs and reduce paper use

A partnership between Student Information Systems & Technology (SIS&T) and the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) supported the January launch of a new check-in system that should make it easier and faster for OISS staff to meet the needs of international students, who make up about 12% of the total student body, and international scholars.image of tablet

Now when students or scholars visit the OISS office on the third-floor of the Student Resource Building, they will use electronic tablets instead of paper to fill out a brief form that captures the visitor’s name, visa type, and reason for visiting. Typical reasons for a visit include picking up or dropping off an important document or making or checking into an appointment with an OISS advisor.

“The number of international students on campus has increased dramatically over the past decade, so we need to be as efficient as possible,” said Simran Singh, Director of OISS. “With the help of these tablets, OISS will better be able to track the needs of our students and scholars.”

On average, the OISS office receives 45 visitors a day and advisors have a good sense of what their appointment loads will look like. However, the office accepts walk-in appointments on Wednesdays, when staff expect the new check-in system to help the most.

“With the new tablets, advisors can see who is checking in and for what purpose,” said Erik Williams, the OISS International Student Programs Coordinator. “Now we will be able to look at a student’s file before they sit down with one of our advisors, and we will have a better idea about their situation without having to ask as many background questions.”

While the new electronic check-in system will reduce paper waste and let the OISS staff more efficiently triage visitors’ needs, it also will allow staff to assess its annual operations.

“With the new system, we will be able to see trends for services at specific times of the year and adjust our business practices based on those needs,” said Williams.

OISS services include generating immigration documents for international campus visitors, and the office serves as an official reporting unit to various federal and state departments. OISS is responsible not only for serving international undergraduate and graduate students, but also international researchers, faculty, and staff who have been hired by the university, and SIS&T provides much of the information technology and communication infrastructure to OISS staff.

“This is an important collaborative effort,” said Joe Sabado, Executive Director of SIS&T. “The way I see it, this new mobile check-in system can generate possibilities for assessment and improved user experiences with OISS and other departments we serve.”

In mid-2017, SIS&T released a three-year strategic plan led by Sabado that included an updated Vision, Mission, and new Guiding Principles that focus SIS&T’s efforts on People, Process, and Philosophy. This collaborative effort with OISS achieves SIS&T’s mission to provide its partners with business-driven, secure, innovative, and technology-enabled solutions and services. Read more about SIS&T’s strategic plan at http://sist.sa.ucsb.edu/docs/default-source/default-document-library/sist-strategic-plan.pdf.

SIS&T wishes to acknowledge staff members Kerry Trimble, Tom Lawton, Joe Haubruge, Allen Biehle, Mark Weinsoff, and Diana Antova for their work on this project, as well as OISS staff members Erik Williams, Simran Singh, Mavel Marina, Christina Chilin, and Chryss Yost. Singh wishes to thank Sabado and the SIS&T team, Kerry Trimble, and the UCSB Student Fee Advisory Committee, which helped to fund the initiative.