Student records: the current landscape

Understanding the challenges and opportunities in student records management in universities 

Since August 2022, Jisc, UCISA, and ARC have been working together on a joint project to build a consensus on the challenges that members are facing storing, managing, and processing student records, as well as investigating potential improvements. 

The research included interviews with 18 universities, a survey with responses from 72 institutions, and interviews with some of the main suppliers of student record systems.  

The work was overseen by an advisory group of CIOs and academic registrars alongside other key stakeholders such as APUC.  

A summary report of the research is now available student records: the current landscape.

Report summary

There wasn’t one single problem or challenge that stood out as the main source of frustration. Instead, there were three themes that emerged regardless of university group, nation, or role type: these were organisation and culture, product marketplace, and new requirements.  

Student records systems (SRSs) are viewed as business critical and interact with numerous core processes and systems, and therefore come with a high level of complexity and cost. A common source of tension is the balance between academic autonomy and the desire for centralised, standardised processes and systems.  

Concerns were raised about the SRS marketplace, including the lack of options available, in part due to difficulties new entrants face breaking into the market, procurement practices at some universities favouring incumbent suppliers, and a desire to improve current products and relationships with suppliers.  Implementing a new SRS is seen as a risky, time-consuming and costly exercise.  

Reporting demands and regulatory changes are frequent and resource-intensive, which limits the chance and time for enhancements and development work. Support for non-standard learner pathways is also lacking, which is a growing requirement in the context of flexible learning.  

The research confirmed the challenges facing the sector are not isolated to some institutions or vendor products but are impacting the entire sector. A review of the research report findings suggests a strong desire from the sector, institutions and vendors to address the challenges.  

There is however a  fear of change at many institutions who have invested heavily in legacy systems to commit to the investment in money, time and resources to make that change. There are a few universities that have made the move to cloud-based solutions and modular systems and we could learn more from their experiences.  

There is a need for a transformation in culture and approach to student records management, however this level of change brings operational risks, the need for financial investment and a systemic approach to change management across all those colleagues involved with the delivery of student records systems.   

The research phase of work is now complete however Jisc is continuing to work with the sector, UCISA and ARC. 

Further enquiries email  


By Paul Bailey

Head of co-design, part of a research and development team

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