The Boston University Office of the Provost announced Thursday the Student Information System Renewal Program — which will make updates to the Student Link and Faculty Link — is starting now and will take the next three years to finish.
The SIS includes the Student Link — a website where students register for classes, input hours for on-campus jobs, pay their tuition and more — and the Faculty Link, where staff can find information such as instructor’s tools and the University schedule.
“While the current system has served the University well, it is both functionally and aesthetically outdated and in need of an upgrade,” Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, wrote in an email to students, faculty and staff.
The SIS Renewal Overal Timeline has areas of the system to be completed in stages from now until December 2023.
Among those spearheading the process is Vice President of Information Services and Technology Tracy Schroeder, who said it is a crucial task for BU going forward.
“It’s not just necessary, it’s critical,” Schroeder said. “We have to do this in order to sustain the applications that run the university and provide the student experience.”
She said she estimates the entire renewal program will cost the University roughly $50 million over the course of three years.
She wrote in an email that IS&T satisfaction surveys students, faculty and staff have responded to since 2009 showed the SIS to be “among the lowest rated services.”
Schroeder said students and faculty were consulted during the production implementation selection process.
“In terms of consultation around the actual construction of it and feedback during the course of the implementation,” Schroeder said, “that will take place with review with faculty and students.”
Samuel Morra, a freshman in the College of General Studies, said the website’s appearance is off-putting for incoming freshmen.
“For such a professional university, I think that it should represent us better,” Morra said. “It’s not a great first impression.”
He added the website works in terms of usability, but he said its design does not seem to be logical or applicable to BU.
“Organization-wise, I think it has an OK setup, but I mean, the color scheme is just like a rainbow,” Morra said. “It makes no sense, it doesn’t apply to our university at all.”
College of Engineering freshman Gauri Bhandarwar said she would like for the new website to have better-designed links, which would make it easier to find specific areas on the website.
She said the website design made her first class registration a difficult process.
“It’s not really user-friendly,” Bhandarwar said. “I remember the first time I used it, I didn’t know how to navigate some of the ways to register [for] class.”
Questrom School of Business freshman Sam Li said he is content with the functionality of the website but believes it needs more than that.
“Aesthetically, I would say make it more like a website,” Li said, “because the first time when I searched it up and I clicked on it, I thought I was going to a spam website.”
BU spokesperson Colin Riley said he expected student feedback to be taken into account for the project.
“Whenever you are using something that interacts with a customer base, in this case students, you want to know what that experience is about,” Riley said.
One functional change to the new Student Link will be students’ ability to add alternate names to their profile.
Christine McGuire, vice president and associate provost for enrollment and student administration, wrote in an email there will be “expanded options for student identity.”
“Legal name will remain, because there are compliance reasons why we must use a student’s government registered name for certain functions,” McGuire wrote, “but the new system should allow us to expand the fields available in a manner that will reduce current frustrations with the way identity is stored in the old system.”
Theodora Goss, master lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program, wrote in an email she primarily uses the Faculty Link to check class registration at the beginning of the semester and then post grades at the end.
“I don’t really have likes or dislikes, or hope to see anything particular in a new version, because there’s so little to it and we use it so infrequently,” Goss wrote. “Faculty haven’t really been told much about it and don’t know what to expect.”
Goss wrote the Faculty Link is “purely functional,” unlike the Student Link.
“There isn’t really much to say about Faculty Link,” she said. “It’s just a bunch of links providing basic information.”