Your new LX Agony Uncle Phil Betts(y) answers your pressing issues about university systems, technologies, horticulture, and institutional…stuff. For the inaugural issue, he lifts the lid on UTS’s curriculum management systems CASS & CIS.

Dear Bettsy,
I’ve been wondering, what’s the difference between CASS & CIS? Where do students’ grades go once they’ve been submitted? Which system generates students’ academic transcripts? Which of these systems ‘talks to’ the Learning Management System (LMS) to enrol students and create tutorial groups, etc?
Sincerely,
Never Been CISsed

Dear N.B.C.,
I’m SO glad you asked, as this topic is dear to my heart.

CASS = Curriculum and Student System (pronounced “kass”)
CIS = Curriculum Information System (pronounced “kiss”)

How could anyone possibly get those mixed up?! 😅 🙃

What do CASS and CIS do?

CASS does essentially three things:

  1. It tracks most details about student enrolments on an individual level (what degree they do, what subjects they’re enrolled in, their progress towards a qualification, marks etc.). It also stores basic admin things like their name, DOB, address.
  2. It tracks information about program structures and ownership – eg. what subjects, majors, courses etc. exist, and what’s the relationship between them? For example, what are the rules? What does a student need to do to qualify with degree x? Which school manages them?
  3. It tracks information about subject sessions. When is the subject run (Autumn, Spring, March etc., Calendar B etc.), who is the subject coordinator for that session? These sessions are then linked to the student enrollment details (primarily for managing fees and marks)

There are a couple of other things, but basically, it’s the source of truth for the above, and a pretty important database for the university’s accreditation and legal compliance.

CIS draws information from CASS about what subjects exist, and then expands on the details. Whereas, aside from session details, CASS is generally inter-subject in scope, CIS is mostly intRA subject. So it contains information about a subject’s description, assessments, Subject Learning Outcomes, Course Intended Learning Outcomes etc. Generally, all of the stuff that goes into the handbook and subject outline (again, also a legally binding document.)

There’s a third system that fits into this mix: Allocate+.

Allocate+ is about timetabling

It takes the subject session information and student enrolments from CASS, and then tracks lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops etc. It manages which student is in which tutorial, what room is assigned etc.

CASS sits most ‘upstream’, so the systems ‘downstream’ draw info from it (CIS, Allocate+, the LMS’s).

When it comes to the LMS, CASS is the Source of Truth for subject provisioning (based on session availability), subject coordinator, and student enrollments. Tutors and other staff have to be manually added into the LMS, because that information isn’t kept in any central systems.

When grades are submitted, an integration will send them back into CASS where they’re stored (and appear on the student’s transcript).

The only other point of integration is tutorial and other sections coming from Allocate+, used to create sets of students. ‘Sections’ in Canvas are based on all Allocate+ entries (as well as subject IDs for multisite subjects.) Which is handy when you only want to mark students in your tutorial!

Hopefully this clears up your CASS/CIS confusion. Please contribute any questions, qualms, quandaries, or clarifying queries in the comments!

Bettsy

Do you have a question for your ol’ Uncie B? Send ‘em on to “Heavens to Bettsy” at philip.betts@uts.edu.au, or find me on Teams (Phil Betts)!

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