The University of Florida consistently ranks among the top public universities in the country, and it attracts thousands of international students to its Gainesville, Florida, campus every year.
With an international population over 6,000, day-to-day operations consisted of data entry and paper processes. Although they had a software provider to support their operations, this platform was growing in price and shrinking in functionality.
University of Florida wanted to offer a better experience for both incoming students and their administrators, so they made the move to Terra Dotta, allowing them to better serve international students, scholars, and exchange visitors.
Little Online Interaction
Students used to set up in-person appointments and brought paper documents to the meetings when needed.
Time-intensive data entry
Because of all those paper documents, the J1 visa exchange program required time-intensive data entry. A part-time student was hired to help with the workload.
Staff had to make duplicate entries in both SEVIS and its previous student management platform with the same information.
Counselors juggled many students' requests, often stopping in the middle of a process to address an urgent situation. They then needed to review SEVIS and the previous management platform to determine if they had completed the process in both systems.
Long wait times
Students grew frustrated because issues weren’t always resolved quickly.
Online and Automated
Students, foreign partner institutions and other approved stakeholders can easily create profiles and submit and update documents within the platform. The move to virtual meetings and operations was seamless during COVID because of the already existing online portal.
No more data entry
UF’s international team has more time for strategic tasks and pressing student issues. And that part-time student position handling J1 visa data was eliminated.
Through RTI Connect, users download information from SEVIS into Terra Dotta, eliminating manual updates and data discrepancies.
Through intuitive reporting, counselors work more efficiently, scheduling their time with students in an organized way that allows them to address particular concerns, such as visa status or OPT issues, on specific days.
Appointments for questions are still available, but much more information and application instructions are available to students via the ISSS portal, thereby reducing the need for frequent in-person meetings.
— Ethel Porras
Assistant Director, International
Student Compliance services
Quick and Effective: Terra Dotta for ISSS in Action at University of Florida
Before Terra Dotta
With Terra Dotta
Like any software implementation, UF’s move to Terra Dotta wasn’t without challenges. It required buy-in from staff and stakeholders and a learning curve as users mastered the platform.
But, that hard work was worth it. Terra Dotta for ISSS has transformed the way UF’s international team handles its students’ critical documents. Terra Dotta’s team quickly responds to their suggestions for ways to make improvements and technical issues that need to be resolved. And students have embraced the solution.