The department of higher education of the Government of Odisha had been using manual processes for admissions up to 2008, which were not only dispersed but lacked efficiency and transparency. To overcome these challenges, the department developed
a Student Academic Management System (SAMS) using Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, .NET Framework 3.5, and System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. The comprehensive, integrated, and centralized solution SAMS, which was implemented over four
academic years from 2009─10 has brought transparency and process efficiency to the admission process. The education department believes that the new infrastructure has saved considerable expenditure for various stakeholders. In addition, the system bridges
the gap between students by creating innovative channels of communication.
||Implementation of SAMS has led to radical efficiency and transparency in the process of admissions in Odisha’s higher education institutions.
| Madhusudan Padhi
IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Odisha
The department of higher education of the Government of Odisha looks after education at the university, post-graduate, graduate, and higher secondary level. It also provides vocational education in order to prepare the youth for self-employment. The department
also facilitates professional courses in government and the private sector.
In 2008, the department commissioned a study of a few colleges in and around Bhubaneswar to evaluate the admission process. The study revealed several problems in the system.
The existing admission system was a manual process. Applicants had to travel to the desired college, buy a pre-printed application form for subjects of their choice, fill up and deposit the same in the college along with relevant documents, and wait for
selection. “Many students had to travel to two or more towns to buy and submit these forms with the hope of getting admission in a college of their choice,” explains Narayan Samantary, former Additional Secretary to Government of Odisha. “As a student was
not sure of his/her selection to a particular course in any college, on an average s/he had to apply to three to five colleges/streams.”
The Government of Odisha’s main objective was to bring transparency in the process of admission by use of Information Technology (IT). It also wanted to reduce the cost of admission for students. “We wanted to improve efficiency to the college machinery
with respect to academic matters,” says Aditya Mohapatra, Officer-on-Special-Duty, Government of Odisha. “We were looking at providing several services to the students and colleges after admission in quick time.”
In 2008, the higher education department of Odisha decided to develop a Student Academic Management System (SAMS) using Microsoft technologies. This department had expertise on Microsoft products which was one of the reasons for using them. The other reasons
were the end user experience, which reduces support costs and easy integration with other technologies.
SAMS is a web-based comprehensive, integrated, centralized admission and academic management system for students. It is designed to overcome the challenges faced during college admissions and post admission processes. The process parameters for the project
were finalized in two workshops held with 60 principals and those in charge of admissions. They were explained the concept of the new project and their opinions were sought.
||SAMS has achieved its stated objectives of making the entire admission process citizen-centric and transparent. Today, over 60 percent of the applicants get their first option of college/stream through SAMS as they are able to make
| Madhusudan Padhi
IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Odisha
CSM Technologies was selected as the implementation partner for SAMS. The department used Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and .NET Framework 3.5 to build the new solution. It has a desktop application and a web application. Visual Basic and
Microsoft Access were used for the desktop application, which is the best combination for lightweight desktop applications. ASP.NET and SQL Server are used for the web-based application.
SAMS has two components: one provides a platform for college admissions through e-Admission and the second provides several services to students in the colleges after admission through e-Administration.
e-Admission aims to use information technology to process common applications for admission, which would reduce time and improve the efficiency of college functionaries who had been doing it manually. It makes the admission process economical, efficient,
hassle free and transparent for the students and their parents. “The students/parents had to travel to only one of the 60 SAMS junior colleges in the first year of implementation of e-Admission to be able to get admission to any stream of any college of their
choice,” explains Laxmi Narayan Mishra, former Joint Secretary to Government of Odisha. “Intimation to selected applicants is sent through IT enabled mediums like SMS and email, and admission of the selected applicants is done in the colleges and updated in
the master database.”
e-Administration uses the database of e-Admission in various academic and administrative activities such as issue of identity card, collection of fees, section allocation, issue of admit cards, tabulation of internal examination marks, submission of return
of matriculates to +2 council and universities, and preparation of long roll etc,.
The department implemented Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as the database management software for SAMS. “SQL Server 2008 is a highly secure database solution,” says Saroj Kumar Tripathy, DGM and Head, State Portal Group, Government of Odisha. “The powerful tools
and functionality provided by SQL Server 2008 improve our vital business processes.”
The SQL environment is used with multiple instances for balancing the load. Along with this there is provision for Active/Passive for the database failover. The current database size is 16 GB in database files (mdf) and 20 GB in log files (ldf). Log files
are scheduled for clearance at periodic intervals.
SAMS has a three tier architecture with load balancing and database clustering features. The firewall acts as the middle gateway between internal and external. In addition, the database is configured as Active/Passive mode. The application is controlled
with a load-balancing mode.
SAMS changed the whole paradigm of the admission process from being ‘college centric’ to ‘student centric’. It is an integrated solution which helps students, parents, and faculties to share vital information on a student's academic activities. ”Implementation
of SAMS has led to radical efficiency and transparency in the process of admissions in Odisha’s higher education institutions,” says Madhusudan Padhi, IAS, Commissioner & Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Odisha.
Other components implemented by the department include System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. It helps in continuous data protection and data recovery in the server environment. Along with this the Shadow copy feature of Data Protection Manager is also
used in SAMS.
The database resides in the state data center. All server side validation and store procedures are used to prevent any SQL injection. Both Microsoft SQL Server and Internet Information Server 7 are able to handle the huge load of web requests. In SAMS, this
technology has been effectively used with all features. Along with that, the infrastructure also has some inbuilt security features, which help in protecting the application from external attacks.
Today, SAMS covers the academic administration of 2000 colleges (1334 junior and 669 degree) in the whole state of Odisha. The project provides a 360- degree approach to all the stakeholders, namely, students, parents/wards, colleges, college authorities,
and department officials in matters of academic administration.
SAMS has greatly improved the academic administration in the higher education sector in Odisha in the last four years. “We now have a comprehensive and integrated database of colleges and students, which helps us to make decisions,” says Ms Debjani Dhal,
Under Secretary to Government of Odisha. “The entire admission process is automated and we are now much better positioned to support the needs of faculty, students, and staff.”
SAMS has brought transparency to the entire admission process. Users have access to vital information, mostly through online methods. The website of the higher education department (www.dheorissa.in)
ensures that students not only apply online, they also get a quick and correct update on their applications. “The students are able to use the previous year’s cut-offs for various streams/colleges before applying online,” says Rabinarayan Mohanty, Financial
Advisor-cum-Joint Secretary, Government of Odisha. “The facility to track the current status of one’s application for a particular college/stream reduces anxiety and uncertainty among the students.”
Provides Process Efficiency
The choice to standardize its IT infrastructure through Microsoft technologies has made a real difference for the IT staff at the department. The process efficiency of SAMS can be judged from time-bound admissions, which have been taking place since 2009.
The number of choices processed under SAMS has increased from 96,310 in 2009 to over 11 lakh in 2012.
“SAMS has achieved its stated objectives of making the entire admission process citizen- centric and transparent,” says Madhusudan Padhi. “Today, over 60 percent of the applicants get their first option of college/stream through SAMS as they are able to
make informed choices.”
Reduces Expenditure for Students
In the manual admission system, applicants were required to travel multiple times to the colleges, which could be far from their residence. But with the implementation of SAMS, there is no such travelling required. Students can fill online applications and
get their certificates validated at the nearest SAMS Resource Centre (SRC). If selected, they travel to the intended college. Thus, by implementation of the SAMS system, the need for travel to multiple destination colleges is completely neutralized. It has
reduced a student’s expenditure considerably.
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