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Penn InTouch received a dramatic makeover toward the end of last semester. But the changes may have only been screen-deep.

With back-end technologies nearing 20 to 30 years old, Student Registration and Financial Services and Information Systems and Computing are collaborating to launch the Next Generation Student Systems.

The new systems are intended to be a long-term project that will support the applications and processes that serve students and faculty in five, 10 or even 15 years from now, Robin Beck, vice president of Information Systems and Computing wrote in an e-mail.

"We have evolved the wide variety of web-based services with which you are familiar but the 'back-end' systems have not changed," she wrote.

Currently in the earliest of planning stages, these systems will impact registration, financial aid and billing when implemented, according to NGSS Project Manager and IT director of Student Registration and Financial Services Regina Koch.

"We are gathering high-level information about current business processes," she said, adding that the intention is to develop systems "capable of serving students' and schools' needs."

Over 170 individuals across the University, representing schools and centers have been asked for their input, Beck wrote.

According to Michelle Brown-Nevers, associate vice president for Student Services and the University Registrar, this information is part of the project's feasibility study.

"We are doing a gap analysis," she said, "to see where we are now and to identify a future vision [to close] these gaps."

She added that the goal of the project is to develop a student system that will work better for students and behind-the-scenes staff who are currently working on systems created in the 1980's.

The initiative will remain in the planning stages until September 2010, Koch said. Student outreach is expected to start in February, and groups such as the Undergraduate Assembly, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly are likely to be contacted.

Those leading the project say the feedback will inform a strategic decision for the future.

"Just as the students in the 80's could not imagine the PIT of today for example, so also will today's students not know [NGSS]," Beck wrote. "Today's students will, however, have much to say" about what the future of this project will look like.

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