On-course applications: digitising paper processes

About on-course applications

The on-course applications project will replace ten paper-based Graduate (GSO) forms with online applications and digitised approval / workflow processes, improving the way these activities are completed and administered.  Graduate (GSO) forms - or applications - are used to process requests for a number of things (transfer of status and confirmation of status, extensions or suspensions of status) and need to be reviewed and approved by key people, including the supervisor, the college, the department and/or division before they can be processed by Graduate Studies Administrators. The current paper-based approval process is very time-consuming for both students and academic staff, creating paperwork that needs to be moved around the University for approval.

A way forward
The new automated process will see the student completing the on-course application form online in a secure environment.  Automated email notifications will be generated at key time points to support the process, and users will be able to track the applications relevant to them in one single place.  This will increase the quality, efficiency and speed of the service.  Students will access their applications and dashboards via Student Self Service, and staff will have access via the eVision system. 


Development of the first ten on-course application forms is well underway, and the online system will launch before the start of Hilary term 2020 in Student Self Service and eVision.  The following ten forms will be the first to move online:

  • GSO.2b: Defer Transfer of Status
  • GSO.3: Appointment of examiners 
  • GSO.3c: Dispensation from consultation of the thesis
  • GSO.4: Change of mode of study 
  • GSO.6: Change of title 
  • GSO.8: Dispensation from residence 
  • GSO.14b: Defer Confirmation of Status
  • GSO.15: Extension of time 
  • GSO.27: Appointment of examiners - Law 
  • GSO.29: Withdrawal 

Their paper-based equivalents will be phased out after launch.  Communication activity and detailed training will support the launch.

Read the August project update here and read more of the detail in the FAQ document.

'Go live' is scheduled to take place before the start of Hilary term 2020, and right now, we're busy completing the specifications, development and system testing.  The first stage of data collection is nearing completion, and user testing and training will follow in November.


Updated 15 October 2019


Moving ten applications online delivers the following benefits for users, academics and university staff:

•    Creating a user-friendly system. Students, academics and staff can complete and track the progress of applications easily and efficiently

•    The system is fully secure, with data managed in line with GDPR regulations

•    All applications will be stored in one place, and appliccations can be accessed or approved wherever you are, as long as you have web access, via eVision system or Student Self Service

•    The move online will reduce paper-based communication, photocopying, and printing, and will mean that applications can no longer go astray or get stuck in someone’s in-tray

•    Overall processing time for applications will be reduced through online workflow improvements

The corresponding paper-based forms will be phased out once their online applications have launched. The associated web links to paper forms will be updated to lead students and staff to eVision or Student Self Service as appropriate, and colleagues will be reminded not to hold stocks of paper forms.  At the time new on-course applications are launched, any applications already submitted using a paper form will continue to be accepted, but any new applications after that date should be made via the new applications in eVision/Student Self Service. The one exception is form GSO3c Dispensation from consultation of the thesis, for leavers who no longer have single sign-on access.

Working Group review of processes
The Working Groupchaired by Dr Andy Garlick (Assistant Registrar (Education) for the Social Sciences Division), comprises key academic and administrative staff from across the collegiate University. The group has reviewed the processes behind the paper forms, to establish where simplifications can be made, consider how to address the key issues and challenges regarding transition from paper-based form to automated online workflows, and make recommendations to be considered by the appropriate University governing bodies. The group will continue to be involved throughout the project. 

The Project Board meets on a regular basis to review progress of the on-course applications project and has ultimate responsibility for overseeing direction and governance of the project. 

The first ten on-course applications will be launched in eVision / Student Self Service before the start of Hilary term 2020.  There are many more progression forms, with complicated underlying processes, and therefore it is likely it will take a number of years to digitise them fully. The online applications have been prioritised for delivery by the Working Group, which aims to balance the end-user benefits of moving to an online workflow, while considering the relative complexity of the forms and the system development work required for successful delivery. Subsequent tranches are not due to be planned until after related policy changes, approved by the Education Committee, are finalised. 

Get in touch with the on-course applications project team by email at spp@it.ox.ac.uk.

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