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UCAS reworks university admissions access with API

Over the next few years, the existing access to UCAS' systems will be switched off. Universities will need to use new APIs, powered by MuleSoft

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has implemented MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform as it revamps the university admissions clearing process.

“We are two years through a digital transformation programme replacing the majority of front-end and back-end systems, starting on postgraduate then undergraduate services,” said Mark Woodfield, head of technology development at UCAS.

To support its ongoing transformation and become a more agile organisation, Ucas recognised it needed to move to a modular technology architecture. With Anypoint Platform, UCAS will be able to build an application network in which Ucas technology assets are pluggable and reusable. An application network will enable UCAS to use existing and new technologies to drive innovation and agility at scale to meet the demands of an increasingly fast-changing external landscape.

Using the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, UCAS said it would be creating application building blocks to break down internal technology silos and drive agility to provide support for third-party access to the university admissions process.

Woodfield said the digital transformation, due to be complete by 2020, will see UCAS overhaul its legacy systems, which are monolithic and inflexible, making them inefficient and slow to change.

The change will require universities to connect to UCAS in a different way, which means support for the existing legacy admissions process will need to continue for a number of years. However, Woodfield said the vast majority use student record systems from third-party providers.

“We are depreciating our existing products, and will move to an external API-driven user interface over the next few years,” said Nick Harper, head of enterprise technology architecture at UCAS.

Read more about UCAS

UCAS has used MuleSoft as an enterprise service bus, which creates a walled garden, to allow its legacy systems to continue to operate while the new systems are brought in.

Universities will have access to the same dataset, but the new systems will be updated faster with new features tailored to their environment.

Harper said the overall goal of the project is a digital transformation, in which UCAS will operate loosely coupled services that can be integrated quickly and easily and modernised over time. These services, or building blocks, comprise application areas such as customer relationship and document management, as well as some bespoke development, which can be made available to the universities via application programming interfaces (APIs).

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