[Case Study] How Unitek College Improved Compliance With CourseKey

Unitek College is a private, ACCSC accredited institution operating in Northern California since 2002. They’re one of the leading providers of healthcare and nursing education on the west coast, with multiple campuses having received the ACCSC “School of Excellence” distinction. Unitek’s goal is to help graduates take control of their professional futures through career training, professional development, clinical placement, and employment assistance. They believe students are best prepared for long term career success when the learning environment combines innovative technologies with engagement, empowerment, and personal responsibility.

Issues Caused By Poor Attendance Data

Back in 2014, despite their many strengths, Unitek had an issue around compliance — specifically, consistently collecting and reporting accurate clock-hour attendance data. Their paper-based attendance process was producing inaccurate and late data, which was the catalyst for major issues.

Unitek had trouble determining students’ last day of attendance (LDA), which delayed their return to Title IV processes. By the time admins were aware that a student didn’t show up, the 14 day window to report it had often already passed.

Inaccurate attendance data was such a problem one year that they had a 55% error rate on their return to Title IV, which led to Unitek receiving a finding from the Department of Education. They were at risk of losing their Title IV funding eligibility, which jeopardized their accreditation, state board approvals, access to Title IV Assistance programs, and other private, state, and federal funds. Problems with return to Title IV had a big impact on the company’s cashflow and cash management.

The problem was especially evident in Unitek’s externship and clinical programs, where processes were even less consistent. Instructors at the site would come to campus two weeks after a class to report attendance. In some cases instructors sent pictures of rosters that were hard to read or seemed to have forged signatures. Inaccurate data, poor and illegible documentation, and delays when collecting and entering data made processing attendance data a massive headache for administrators.

Other schools had been closed down due to problems with their attendance management and failure to stay in compliance. To avoid the same fate, Unitek knew they needed a solution that would generate, retrieve, and report accurate attendance data.

Results After Implementing CourseKey

In 2016, Unitek partnered with CourseKey to fix their attendance process and improve their compliance. By using CourseKey’s mobile attendance platform, Unitek was able to consistently collect and report accurate and timely attendance data. Inaccuracies, falsely reported data, and storing paper rosters were all a thing of the past.

Through CourseKey, Unitek was able to know in real-time which students were absent, giving them the ability to instantly determine LDA and start return to Title IV processes as early as possible. Accuracy of records improved dramatically as well, leading to successful, on time return to Title IV funds, which improved their cashflow management significantly.

How Unitek’s Operations Evolved With CourseKey

CourseKey’s platform enabled Unitek to digitize their attendance process, streamlining their operations. Because data was automatically uploaded after students checked in or out, the retrieval process (which previously took weeks) was eliminated.

By digitizing their attendance records, Unitek was able to store them in the cloud, where any authorized user could access them from any web-connected device. This made record keeping simple and easy in comparison to their previous process of managing paper documents and keeping them in storage rooms. In fact, record keeping at Unitek improved by 30%.

Because students were checking in on their mobile devices, any issues of illegible or inaccurate data were eradicated. In addition, opportunities for academic dishonesty or falsified data were drastically minimized.

One huge factor that allowed Unitek to streamline its attendance process was CourseKey’s integration with their SIS, CampusVue. Through the integration, attendance data generated in CourseKey was automatically added to a student’s record in CampusVue, sparing administrators hours of manual data entry each week. With student records consistently up-to-date, administrators could focus on outreach to support at-risk students.

Unexpected Advantages

The benefits of adopting CourseKey did not stop there.

With real-time insight, corporate administrators gained administrative oversight over multiple campuses, letting them see attendance data at a large scale with the option to dig deeper into a single student’s attendance records.

Administrators at Unitek were also able to gain insight into how well classroom operations matched institutional policies. For example, after implementing CourseKey, admins discovered that some instructors were not starting class on time and others were ending class early. This visibility into instructor behavior helped them enforce consistent start and end times and improve the quality of education students were receiving.

Equipped with real-time attendance data from CourseKey, Unitek was also able to exercise a proactive approach to retention through early detection into student progression and early intervention.

Students at Unitek were very receptive to CourseKey. They valued the real-time visibility into their attendance records and appreciated that it demanded accountability. According to Ena Hull, Senior Vice President of Student Financial Services and Title IV Compliance, students began running to class to get there on time and receive full credit for attendance.

Through CourseKey’s mobile attendance solution, Unitek was able to consistently collect and report accurate, timely attendance data, dramatically improving their compliance. By having access to attendance data in real time, Unitek was able to start and finish processes that relied on attendance on time, like return to Title IV and student loan deferments.

Final Note

By turning to technology to help solve their issues around collecting and reporting attendance data, Unitek was able to significantly improve their compliance and stay eligible for Title IV funding. Their adoption of CourseKey’s mobile attendance platform not only improved compliance, but it created a better experience for both students and staff members, helping to uphold their reputation as one of the premier schools in the career college sector.

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