Service Excellence Programme: Programme and Course Information Management (PCIM)

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In this post, Sarah McAllister, from Institute for Academic Development, and Lee Carlton, from Student Administration and Support, explain how the Programme and Course Information Management (PCIM) strand of the Service Excellence Programme aims to simplify and standardise programme and course processes, and the impact these proposed changes have on the role of an academic…

As part of the Student Experience Project (2012-2016), the PCIM project aimed to enhance the student experience by providing accurate, consistent and usable information on programme and courses. The project had several outcomes, including fantastic examples of student and staff engagement, enhanced course descriptors, and revised policies, which laid important ground work for the current PCIM project. PCIM is now part of the Student Administration and Support (SA&S) strand of the Service Excellence Programme, which aims to improve and enhance student administration and support across the University.

PCIM aims to deliver a golden copy of all course and programme information to be used by both prospective and current students and staff. It will enhance the information available by improving and streamlining how we propose, maintain, and close courses and programmes. As a result, staff time will not be wasted updating and publishing the same information in multiple locations reducing the risk of inconsistent information being presented to students.

In the Autumn of 2018, the PCIM team ran a number of workshops involving students and staff focused on course and programme maintenance and the information held in course handbooks. We found information is held in a number of sources, including, wikis, webpages, VLEs, and inconsistency in processes. Recently, we have been working closely with Academic Services on reviewing processes across Colleges related to the Board of Examiners. This will help support aligning process with the implementation of the new PCIM system.

A huge part of developing the new system is future-proofing. The way we currently propose courses and programmes tend to be within a single discipline or school. Increasingly, proposals will be multi-disciplinary and involve staff from across the University. This should not mean extra work and we aim to develop a flexible system that allows multiple reviewers. The Edinburgh Future Institute is a fantastic example of collaborative and innovative programme development. The system will also support CPD-based learning.

PCIM and the role of an academic

Throughout the student journey, academic and support staff regularly engage with a number of systems. Academic staff act as Personal Tutors and Course Organisers both of which rely on accurate information being available. PCIM aims to support academics in their roles in a number of areas, including:

  • Programme & course proposal

When you propose a new course or programme, you will do this through the PCIM system with version control rather than producing multiple documents. The system will help to identify potentially similar existing courses and programmes.  As the proposal goes through the workflow you will receive notifications and requests. Once final approval is granted, the system will notify the appropriate teams for set up, including SSP and CAM. The course and programme information will feed into interlinked systems and platforms (i.e. EUCLID).

  • Review & approval

The stages of review and approval for programmes and courses will be supported through online workflows. This will increase clarity around the development of academic proposals and increase robustness of business cases. Through entering all programme and course information into the system, fully audited workflows are developed which produce the necessary documentation for review and approval.

  • Programme & course maintenance

As a Course Organiser you will be prompted by the system to review your course information on an annual basis for necessary updates (ad-hoc changes can me made outside of annual review). The system will also prompt the staff assigned to a programme or course to ensure updates are made and will assign the appropriate workflow (running, suspending and closing).

  • Programme & course changes and closures

The system will provide clearer visibility of relationships between programmes and courses, and the status of courses as compulsory or optional components of programmes. When proposing changes or closures, the system will identify the impact on the delivery of programmes within and outside the home School.

  • Publication to current students

You will no longer need to duplicate programme and course information for the DRPS or student handbooks. Information would feed from where it is maintained in a single data source into a University-wide student interface/template for publishing the information currently held in handbooks, including programme and course information; regulations and procedures; and​ student support information​.

Next steps…

The PCIM team is excited to continue to engage with both staff and students as we create detailed designs of how the system will operate based on requirements and future developments. We are visiting a number of key University and College Learning and Teaching committees and networks to increase awareness of PCIM and to provide opportunities for feedback.

For further information about the PCIM project ,and details of our Roadshow events, please see the SA&S wiki. If you would like to share your ideas or experiences, please contact

Sarah McAllister

As Head of Operations and Projects team in the Institute for Academic Development, Sarah and her team provide support for all IAD training, workshops, event organisation, case study collection, and online resources for all students and staff. An important focus of Sarah’s work is to enhance IAD collaboration and engagement with colleagues in Schools and Colleges and beyond to support high quality teaching and research provision in Higher Education.

Sarah has previously worked in student support leadership roles completing a Masters in Education (Leadership and Management). She has a keen interest in quality assurance, widening participation, academic and pastoral care of students, development of taught provision, and leadership of change in a higher education context.

Lee Carlton

Lee is a Business Partner for the Student Administration and Support strand of the Service Excellence Programme. She is currently working on the design and implementation of the PCIM project with colleagues and students across the University. Lee is a graduate of The Glasgow School of Art, with a background in user-centred design.

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