Sophia University: Tableau broadens perspectives, promotes IR activities



Sophia University, established in 1913 by the Catholic Society of Jesus, is one of Japan’s leading private universities. To remain competitive the university established the Office of Institutional Research (IR). The IR team analyzes enormous amounts of data related to curriculum and administration for strengthening its management of the university. With Tableau, the university can visualize various data on the admissions processes and other factors including student’s high school ratings and their performance after enrollment. They are using Tableau to visualize the data of Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP), a new admission process implemented in 2015, to effectively design their admission policy.

Sophia University, established in 1913 by the Catholic Society of Jesus, is one of Japan’s leading private universities. To remain competitive the university established the Office of Institutional Research (IR). The IR team analyzes enormous amounts of data related to curriculum and administration for strengthening its management of the university.

The university relied on Access and Excel to store and analyze data—a time-consuming, manual process. The team needed a better solution that would allow various departments to visualize, and analyze their data quickly with less cost and effort.

With Tableau, the university became capable of visualizing various data on the admissions processes and other factors including student’s high school ratings and their performance after enrollment. They are using Tableau to visualize the data of Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP), a new admission process implemented in 2015, to effectively design their admission policy.
The university shared the TEAP case study with the TEAP council. Now many other universities are interested in incorporating TEAP into their admissions policies.

Now with Tableau, Sophia University is:

  • Analyzing enormous amount of data, impossible to deal with in Excel
  • Moving forward with IR initiatives, including cultivating data-fact discussions
  • Justified increased Tableau footprint within 2 months

In-depth data analysis is a must for Sophia’s globalization

Founded in 1913, the 102-year old Sophia University has been selected to be part of the Top Global University Project” led by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2014. The project aims to boost the globalization of Japanese universities so that graduates can take leadership in the world.

The year before Top Global University Project began, Sophia University established an Institutional Research (IR) team to analyze enormous amounts of university data. Originally, they analyzed data in Access and Excel—a manual and time-consuming process.

Communication of data across departments also needed to be improved. Yoshiharu Aioi, ICT Office, Bureau of Academic Research and Information says, “We could not utilize information gathered from all departments like admissions, education, career support, finance and corporate planning. We had to look for a more sufficient BI tool to make the right decisions based on data.”

With Tableau we found the relationships between the admissions processes and other factors such as student’s high school rating and their performance after enrollment. This was nearly impossible to do with our previous analytics process.

Stunned by simplicity and power

While Mr. Aioi was looking for a BI solution, he learned that Shimane University implemented Tableau. When he trialed Tableau Desktop to analyze admissions data, he was stunned with its simplicity and powerful visualization capability.

With the Top Global University Project subsidy, the University was able to purchase a license for Tableau Desktop and it has opened a new door of big data analysis for the University.

He explains, “First, I made instructions and organized a fundamentals training session with 15 members from different departments.”
The university set up a new project to introduce Tableau to many other employees with an original textbook and with Mr. Aioi as the Tableau champion. Now, anyone who has problems can see him for further questions and other project members help each other learn Tableau.

Visualizing mass amounts of data among several departments

Alongside Shimane University, Sophia University is one of the first universities that have implemented Tableau in Japan. Many Sophia University staff members have become intrigued by the analytics software’s user-friendly interface and powerful visualization.

Tableau helped the university design their admissions policy, according to Professor Takashi Irohara of Admissions Office.

“There are more than 10 different kinds of admissions at our university. With Tableau we found the relationships between the admissions processes and other factors including student’s high school rating and their performance after enrollment. Visualized data is utilized for making decision on the admission policy. By combining with the data of the Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP), we were able to visualize applicants’ English ability in the university.”

Benefits

After sharing the new TEAP admission data analysis by Tableau, departments throughout the university became inspired and engaged with the data. Ever since then, the number of data requests from them has increased.

Furthermore, the University shared the TEAP case study with the TEAP council. Sophia has made a new trend in college admissions policy and now many other universities are interested in incorporating TEAP into their admissions policies.



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