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Improving Education Initiatives with Analytics

Quick Facts
Organization: Dalarna University
Industry: Education
Location: Sweden
Students: 14,500
Customer since: 2009
Website: www.du.se/en
Product: Diver Platform

“That’s a challenge, that people don’t know what they can get,” he says. “Maybe I’m out talking about Diver at some sort of management meeting and then a question pops up —‘can we do this in Diver?’ Of course, we can do it in Diver.”

— Johan Hedman, System Manager at Dalarna University

Key takeaways

  • Diver Platform™ is instrumental in organizing the data that appears in Dalarna’s annual report to Sweden’s Department of Education.
  • Dalarna uses Diver® to track critical KPIs at all levels of the university.
  • Managers at Dalarna’s three schools use Diver to make decisions in the planning of future programs and courses.

Background

Dalarna University is located in central Sweden, with locations in Falun and Borlänge. The university has three schools: School of Education, Health, and Social Studies; School of Humanities and Media Studies; and School of Technology and Business Studies. About 60% of its students are internet-based.

The challenge

The education system in Sweden is completely publicly funded. Universities are funded by the government based on the number of full-time students and when those students complete a course. In order to receive money from the government, universities such as Dalarna need to keep careful track of the relevant data on students. Students from Sweden or within the European Union do not have to pay for their studies, but students from outside the European Union do have to pay a tuition. Each year, Dalarna has to prepare an annual report gathering all of these statistics that is presented to the Department of Education.

The number of students helps provide Dalarna with a budget, and that helps the university plan the programs and courses in each of its schools.

The goal

Dalarna sought an analytics solution that would enable it to:

  • More easily keep track of its financial data — tracking the number of registered students as well as their completed coursework. The work was becoming impossible to do using spreadsheets.
  • Track certain KPIs that would help not just the university as a whole, but also each department, program, and course.
  • Improve advanced planning of programs and courses each year.

The solution

Dalarna uses Dimensional Insight’s Diver Platform, provided by Sweden-based Infotool, to turn its data into actionable information. The university has created a portal called Linnea that contains dashboards on all of its KPIs and produces a variety of reports in an easy-to-view display. The four main systems that feed into its DivePort are the university’s financial management system, the HR system, the student registry, and the admission management system. Dalarna uses information from all of these sources to put together its annual report to the Department of Education.

“Diver helps us create a reliable basis and foundation for further processing within different parts of our organization,” says Johan Hedman, system manager at Dalarna University. “Thanks to DivePort, we have the ability to create better output versions of our four integrated business systems.”

For example, a financial controller at Dalarna logs into DivePort every day instead of the source financial system because it is faster and easier to use. There, the user would get all the necessary data, from an outcome versus budget report to the number of registered students compared to the same time a year ago.

The results

Dalarna has found success using Diver to organize all the information it needs to provide to the government in its annual report. “The information provided through our DivePort is a big part of the foundation of data that is reported in the annual report to the Department of Education,” says Hedman. “All the calculation of funding is done through Diver and displayed in DivePort. This is a huge support for our finance and business controllers.

Dalarna also uses Diver to keep track of a number of critical KPIs, which are used at every level, from the entire school down to each department, program, and course.

The KPIs are:

  • Number of annual full-time students
  • Number of annual performances
  • Performance grade
  • Application rate
  • Financial outcome versus budget

While some of the KPIs are used more consistently than others, it is important that Dalarna has them in the system because there could be changes in what the government is asking universities to track in order to provide funding. When that time comes, Dalarna has a head start with how it is keeping track of its data.

Dalarna also uses Diver to help it plan ahead. Managers within its three schools use the information in DivePort — current as well as historical data — to plan future programs and courses.

What’s next

Since so much of its finances depends on the number of students enrolled, Dalarna has begun a pilot program around student planning. It uses the data from Diver, which works well with another system that works to predict how many students will be at Dalarna in the future, and in which programs.

Lessons learned

Often people get used to doing their work one way, and they don’t think other options because they are either too busy or it just doesn’t cross their mind that there could be an easier way. Hedman has found that people are always impressed with what Diver can do once they see it in action. “That’s a challenge, that people don’t know what they can get,” he says. “Maybe I’m out talking about Diver at some sort of management meeting and then a question pops up — ‘can we do this in Diver?’ Of course we can do it in Diver.”

Hedman is always looking to help Dalarna further improve its programs using Diver. He knows the solution is flexible enough to be used more widely than it is today. He adds, “We can create our own design and functionality, making it
our own and matching our specific needs.”