In 2009, the UK Border Agency introduced new legislation requiring British universities to securely store passports, visas, and other documentation for all international students in an effort to better safeguard Britain’s borders. The universities then must make this information available to the agency as and when required. This requirement stemmed from an incident where authorities arrested 12 individuals for plotting bombings. Eleven of the 12 were in the UK on student visas, yet had not enrolled in a British College or University.
In response to the new mandate, Bristol executed a manual, rudimentary process as a temporary means of compliance. Passports and visas were photocopied and stored in locked filing cabinets. “Obviously, that wasn’t sustainable,” remarked Luke Taylor, Assistant Director of IT for University of Bristol. “But it got us started in the new process until we could automate a better one. With a rapidly growing international student population, our goal was to find a solution that could scan and index the documents, export them into SharePoint, and scale with our needs.”
Bristol identified the following must-have requirements for their new automated legislative compliance solution:
Integration with SharePoint
Ease of Use
Taylor did preliminary research on his own and identified Kofax Express as a potential solution. Kofax Capture was already successfully being used in Bristol’s Finance Department. Kofax Capture provides scan-to-archive capabilities by scanning documents and forms to create digital images, extracting index data for retrieval purposes and delivering the images and associated data to a variety of repositories and applications. However Taylor did not require the full functionality for the international student passport application and he wanted an appropriate for the task, cost-effective solution. He contacted Open Connections, a Kofax partner based near Bristol known for providing outstanding service, to further evaluate the Kofax Express solution with a live demonstration.
“Luke shared his vision for integration with SharePoint and other key requirements,” said Martin Allan, Business Development Executive at Open Connections “We confirmed Kofax Express was an ideal solution because it has an existing SharePoint interface, works with a variety of scanners, is easy to deploy, and has the look and feel of Microsoft that is familiar to his staff.”
After further review, Taylor’s decision became easy. He chose to implement Kofax Express bundled with Kofax VirtualRescan® (VRSTM) and SharePoint. Kofax Express is a powerful, state of the art, all in one, scan-to-archive software package for less complex applications that makes it easy for anyone to quickly scan, index and export documents for fast and easy retrieval. Kofax VRS reduces the time involved in manual document preparation and enhances the quality of scanned images, dramatically improving both manual scanning productivity and the efficiency of document capture processes. With a high level of expertise in-house at Bristol, Open Connections was only needed for a day before doing the handover to Taylor and his team. Bristol was operational with the Kofax Express solution the next day and conducted its own employee training.
Today, Bristol is successfully processing all foreign student passports, visas, and other authorization documents using the Kofax Express solution. Administrators scan student passports in batches using Fujitsu scanners. The solution automatically enhances the quality of the scanned images to improve readability before sending it to a SharePoint storage facility. In addition, key data, such as the student’s name and passport number, is automatically populated in the University’s student records database, minimizing the potential for data entry errors.
“The Kofax solution met all our requirements and provided good value for the money,” said Taylor. “We’re particularly pleased with the ease of use and the ability to pull indexing information. Moreover, we now have a fully automated solution that keeps us in compliance with UK Border Agency Requirements, which was the primary objective.”
With a long-term solution in place, Bristol has the peace of mind and confidence they will retain their license to accept foreign students and continue with their strategy to be a truly international center of learning.