As of May 8, the Office of the Registrar has implemented a new transcript ordering system in partnership with a third-party vendor called The National Student Clearinghouse.
“The new system is designed to allow current students and UR Alumni to order transcripts online 24/7,” University Registrar Nancy Specht said. Students may choose to receive digital copies in the form of PDFs for a fee of $3.25, or up to 10 printed copies for $2.25. “We believe that is an outstanding service to students for a very, very minimal cost,” she said.
Two petitions were posted on the Students’ Association (SA)’s Impact site in opposition to the new system, shortly after it was announced.
One petition reads, “The old system worked, and I feel that there is no need to create a new transcript ordering system and charge students outrageous amounts.” The two petitions combined garnered over 500 signatures, and SA representatives will be meeting with the Office of the Registrar this week.
While students expressed discontent with having to pay for transcripts, Specht noted that “most schools and colleges have already implemented this kind of service.” Specht and Associate Registrar Karen Del Plato also emphasized that all costs of ordering go directly to The National Student Clearinghouse, not to UR, as opposed to many other schools that charge as much as six to 15 dollars extra for their own profit.
“We made the conscious decision not to charge in addition to [the processing cost],” Del Plato said.
Specht said the modified ordering system aims to minimize inefficiency and wasted time in the Office of the Registrar.
“What we found is that students requested more transcripts than they ever wanted […],” Specht said, “so that was a waste of resources; it’s a waste of time, and it’s a waste of funds, actually.” In the past, the Office of the Registrar would spend days compiling large transcript orders, which were ultimately never retrieved.
Specht said there has already been an improvement in efficiency, with the turn-around for fulfilling orders for paper transcripts dropping to nearly two days from three or five days, and to less than 24 hours for electronic versions.
Additionally, since the launch of the new system, 45 percent of transcript requests have been for electronic copies, according to Del Plato and Specht. Looking at a year-over-year comparison from last May to now and May through Sept. of 2014, electronic requests have gone up by 18 percent.
“So far, it appears, students and alumni are taking significant advantage of the electronic option,” Specht and Nancy said in an email. “We are already 5 percent above the national average for students requesting electronic transcripts from their home institutions. We expect this trend will continue.”
A third-party vendor, and the resulting costs, were necessary because UR does not have the capacity to provide digital transcripts on its own. The student information system (SIS), according to Specht, is 30 years old and therefore outdated. Del Plato and Specht stressed that UR is joining a body of campuses that operate in this way.
“I’m not aware of any school or college […] that does it on their own,” Del Plato said, although Specht noted that in four to five years, a new SIS could potentially develop, which might give individual schools greater control.
Specht and Del Plato said that another benefit of virtual transcript ordering is a rising employer and graduate school preference for electronic media. The second of the two Impact petitions mentions this.
“Upon receiving the PDF document, the transcript can only be accessed by a new version of Adobe, which employers and graduate schools may not use.”
The system has been in consideration for the last two years, after the discussion was prompted by the Eastman School of Music, which now uses the same system. According to Del Plato and Specht, the new system took roughly nine months to implement.
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