SAMS: From ‘College Centric’ to ‘Student Centric’

Implementation of SAMS has led to radical efficiency and transparency in the process of admissions in Odisha’s higher education institutions Madhusudan Padhi, Commissioner & Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Odisha

The existing system of admission in Odisha (prior to 2009) was a manual process under which an applicant had  to travel to the college(s) where one wanted to study, buy a pre-printed application form for a stream from the concerned  junior/degree college(s), fill up the same , deposit it in the college(s) along with relevant documents and wait for  selection. Many students had to travel to another town to buy and submit these forms in college of their choice. As a student was not sure of his/her selection to a particular course in any college, on an average he had to apply for 3 to 5 colleges/streams.

The Concept of SAMS

In the fall of 2008, the Higher Education department, Government of Odisha commissioned a study of few colleges in and around Bhubaneswar. The study revealed several problems regarding what goes on beneath the admission processes in Odisha. This paved the way for developing the concept of SAMS (Student Academic Management System).
Two workshops were held with College Principals. They were appraised about the concept of the new project and their opinions were sought. These key stakeholders gave the go ahead signal for the project. Some key process ingredients like Common Application Form (CAF), Common Prospectus (CP) and the procedure for intimation to selected applicants were decided and some novel ideas like intimation of selection through SMS (mobile phones) emerged from these workshops. This served as part of the Process Reengineering for the SAMS project. This helped the Principals and Admission (I/Cs) to own SAMS project as most of their ideas had gone into shaping the project.
SAMS is a web based comprehensive, integrated, centralised admission and academic management system for students. It is designed to overcome the challenges faced during the college admissions and post admission processes.
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. SAMS changed the whole paradigm of admission process from being “College centric” to be “Student centric”. One of the key ingredients for successful implementation of SAMS was the development of a unique 8-digit code for each college. This code was based on geographic location, source of funding and the type of college as indicated in the following chart.

Main objectives of SAMS

• To bring transparency in the process of admission by use of Information Technology (IT)
• To reduce the cost of admission for students/guardians
• To improve efficiency to the college machinery with respect to academics
• To provide several services to the students and colleges after admission

The Coverage of SAMS

In four years from 2009-10 to 2012-13, the concept of SAMS has been implemented in 669 degree colleges and 1331 junior colleges in the state in 4 phases. In Phase-I, corresponding to the academic year 2009-10, 60 junior colleges across 30 districts were taken up for implementing the SAMS project. The conscious decision was to cover all the 30 districts, so that applicants of every district had access to at least one SAMS Junior College within their district. As SAMS was a new concept, the deliberate decision to limit it to 60 Junior Colleges was meant to test its utility and efficiency at a pilot level of deployment. Rest of the Junior Colleges in the state followed the normal manual procedure for admission and academic administration.

In Phase-II, 169 junior colleges (including the 60 of the phase-I) and 53 degree colleges were taken up under SAMS during the year 2010-11. In Phase-III, all the 1307 Junior colleges of the State and 162 Degree colleges have been included in the project in 2011-12. Phase-III universalised the SAMS across all junior colleges of the State. In phase-IV of the project (2012-13), SAMS has covered all the 669 degree colleges of the State .Thus the project target of  universalising SAMS across all junior and degree colleges of Odisha has been achieved in the stipulated time.

The technology behind SAMS

To make this possible, all the stages of SAMS were required to be implemented on the net – starting from online application form, validation, selection, intimation and admission. For this a formidable hardware and connectivity  architecture had to be created. This model required every college to have a SAMS Lab (a server, two desktops and two printers) with broadband connectivity. The college having the SAMS Lab was later termed as the SAMS Resource Centre (SRC). It handled all kinds of jobs, including the processing admissions of few nearby tagged colleges which could not afford to have a lab. e-Admission facility in SAMS enabled students to apply online through one Common Application Form (CAF) for any stream of any college in the state, thereby reducing the hassle of travelling to 3 or 4 colleges to apply.

Pre-fixed dates of various activities of the e-Admission process reduced the anxiety of applicants and ensured timely completion of the entire process. The applications are validated online by college teachers and are processed through application software, which generates selection lists for each of the colleges and streams as per options and marks, subject to reservations and weightages. Intimation to selected applicants is sent through IT enabled mediums like email, SMS etc. and admission of the selected applicants are done in the colleges and updated in the master database. e-Administration uses this database to facilitate services to the students like issue of Admit Card/library card, allotment of Sections/ subjects/ hostels, Long roll preparation and preparation of Return of Matriculates for submission to Council of Higher Secondary Education, Odisha.

The forward linkage of SAMS

Steps have been taken to integrate the SAMS database with that of the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) for junior colleges. In 2011, all the CHSE’s registration used this database thereby eliminating the additional data entry efforts being done earlier. It was further integrated with form fill up for the +2 Board examinations in 2012. Similar integration of SAMS database with the Universities for degree colleges is being done to streamline the registration and examination.
The final word on SAMS SAMS has radically improved the academic administration in higher education sector in Odisha in last four years. More and more value is being added to the system by continuous innovation by the stakeholders every year and this process will continue.

 The outcome of SAMS

Transparency …
SAMS has brought transparency to the process of admission to colleges. The public has access to vital information 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.

Wide reach …

SAMS covers academic administration of 2000 colleges (1331 junior and 669 degree) in whole State of Odisha. The project provides a 360 degree approach to all the stakeholders namely – the students, parents/wards, colleges, college authorities, department officials in matters of academic administration.

SAMS has been replicated throughout the state of Odisha over the last four years across all junior & degree colleges. It has broken the myth that a student from the remote part of the State cannot have access to internet, the system has opened eye for many administrators that Online applications are possible the State.

Process Efficiency…
Process efficiency of SAMS can be judged from time bound admissions taking place since 2009. The number of choices processed under SAMS has increased from 96310 in 2009 to over 11 lakhs in 2012 with no change in date schedule of various activities. SAMS has achieved its stated objectives and outcomes during its 4 phases. It has made the entire process citizen centric and transparent. It is a fact that over 60 percent of the applicants get their first option of college/stream through SAMS.