Cornell University Electronic Student Records Systems Project Report

return to index

Executive Summary

In 1998, Cornell University received an 18-month grant from the NHPRC to identify the policies needed in an academic setting to preserve and provide access to electronic records. The project was to coincide with a university-wide system implementation that would incorporate and integrate all core systems. The implementation project stalled for various technical and organizational reasons, leaving the electronic records project unfinished as well. Cornell restructured the project, with input from the NHPRC, to focus on defining archival requirements for electronic student records systems (ESRS). This report is the result of the restructured project.

The main purposes of this report are to:

The report addresses student records including transcripts, databases, and course documentation. It does not cover student health records, judicial (disciplinary) records, financial aid records, or bursar records, which are special cases of records with special requirements.

There are six sections in the report that reflect the components of the project model, presented on page 7, establishing the context for the discussion and proceeding from general to specific topics:

The Introduction provides the scope of and background for the project, and presents the framework for the report with summaries of each section.

Section 2, Universal Systems Issues, covers issues that are true for all systems, not specific to student records systems. This section is supplemented by Appendix B, Preservation Storage and Processing Considerations, and Appendix C, Electronic Preservation Program Guidelines.

Section 3, Conceptual Issues for ESRS (Generic Concerns), addresses issues that pertain to all electronic student records systems, not specific implementations. This section addresses retention guidelines, metadata issues and archival issues. Appendix I, Association American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) Transcript and Database Metadata, supplements the section.

Section 4, Implementation Issues for ESRS (System-Specific Concerns) discusses archival considerations for implementation options and presents the Cornell system as an example.

Section 5, Discussion of Preservation Approaches and Strategies, identifies the pros and cons of potential preservation approaches for transcripts and student records systems.

The Conclusion presents some general recommendations on student records and some suggestions for further research, including testing the Student Records Self-Assessment, Appendix G.

The recommendations presented in sections 2 through 5 are summarized in the Table of Contents. Appendix D, Relevant Sources; Appendix F, Relevant Research Projects; and Appendix H, Student Records and Relevant C&U Chronology, provide information and citations to support the report in general.