Update on Project Aurora and the Student Information System

Submit Your Questions to an FAQ


—From the desk of Brier Albano, Associate Vice-President, Student Success

I’m sure many that are reading this are thinking “It’s about time!” so I will start with an apology for those who have been eager to hear more information about the pending student information system. It has been a strange and winding road where more information has always been just around the corner but never certain enough to communicate.

I recall one of the first things I was told prior to moving here, in August 2021, was to “not worry” about the student information system project—it would be implemented by the time I got here. All that said, we have a lot to update you on.

I’ll do my best to give you some background on the project and where we’re at now, but I can appreciate that I might not anticipate all your questions. In order to address anything and everything, I’ll be updating this entry with a “living FAQ” every week until March 15. I will add the answers to any questions I’ve received that week.

You can send your questions directly to me,, or if you prefer to be anonymous, ask a trusted friend to send it in for you (or just pretend you’re asking for a friend—I’ll never know). Every week, I’ll collect the answers and let you know more!

The Terminology

One of the biggest challenges in providing updates is how much has changed in the terminology we use to refer to the many components of what was once known as Project Aurora. To get us all on the same page, and to help the newer folks at the college, here are some of the words you may hear and what they mean.

Project Aurora

A project started in 2017 to replace aging human resource, finance and student information systems. Through a request for purchase process (RFP), a product that would do all three was selected called Unit 4. The project was started with Vancouver Island University as a partner and the province supported both institutions with generous funding.

Unit 4

Unit 4 is the name of a company that provides Selkirk College’s enterprise resource planning program (ERP). Selkirk College works with Unit 4 for our finance, payroll, staff recruitment and human resource systems. Unit 4, at the time of purchase, also was developing a student information system (SIS) [more on this later].


SRS is the “student record system” used at Selkirk College that has been provided for free by Vancouver Island University (VIU) since the dawn of computers in post-secondary institutions. SRS was developed and maintained by a very talented individual who retired from Vancouver Island University a number of years ago, and recently, let us know that they would like to actually retire from doing contracted support for us as well. SRS has limited capabilities but without a replacement for this product, Selkirk College will be unable to continue regular business operations (class lists, registrations, admissions, transcripts, etc.).

Thesis (or Thesis Cloud)

Thesis is the name of the company that purchased the ability to develop the student information system (SIS) that Unit 4 initially sold to Selkirk College after Unit 4 sold this portion of the company.


SIS is a general term used in post-secondary for any primary record system that contains student data for the purpose of admissions, registration, graduation, audit, reporting, transcripts and more.

The Basics

In 2017, the ERP and SIS project at Selkirk College, run in collaboration with Vancouver Island University, was born with both institutions moving forward with Unit 4. In 2021, Unit 4 announced the separation of the SIS component of their product. At this time, many institutions were free to break their contract with Unit 4 and elected not to move to Thesis.

Selkirk College elected to continue on as the product showed promise and they felt that given other options seen in the RFP process, alternatives were not desirable. Thesis negotiated with Selkirk College and reduced implementation costs to acknowledge Selkirk College’s efforts in supporting the development process of the new product.

Through the period of the project, the other components of Project Aurora and a number of other key projects required for a successful go-live of a student information system were completed, including:

  • Blackbaud Finance System for Selkirk College Foundation
  • Blackbaud Student Awards System
  • Unit 4 Budget Module
  • Unit 4 Contracts Module
  • Unit 4 Human Resources Module
  • Unit 4 integrations with current operating systems
  • Unit 4 Payroll Module
  • Unit 4 Procurement Module
  • Unit 4 Recruit (Staff) Module

Ongoing work in process, operations and legacy systems was also completed in anticipation of Thesis delivering a final product for implementation by Selkirk College on the student side.

What Is Happening Now?

Starting in 2022, Selkirk College started to express its frustration with Thesis. At this stage, Thesis had missed several opportunities to deliver a product where Selkirk College could successfully test an end-to-end happy path for a student (the “perfect” scenario admission, registration, grading and graduation of a student). Regular conversations occurred between Thesis and Selkirk College to manage bugs, and anticipate when Selkirk College would be able to go-live (start working with) the new product.

By summer of 2023, Selkirk College had several missed go-live dates and had yet to secure a product that would replace the minimum features required for a go-live product. While work on the other implementations continued, and Selkirk College’s Thesis project teams were busy testing and communicating the issues to Thesis, we were told regularly that the version we required was just around the corner. In October of 2023, the development outcomes that we had been hoping for were missed again and Selkirk College began the process of reviewing options.

Selkirk College still believes that the best path forward is a theSIS implementation. The IT Governance Leadership team has had a number of difficult, stressful conversations about the time, money and barriers this project has created for the institution, and yet, still feel that given the current limitations and challenges posed by the SRS system currently in use, the best path forward at this point in time is a theSIS implementation.

When Is Thesis Going Live?

Selkirk College will not be formally announcing a new go-live date until it is certain that it will be met. At this time, the project and leadership of the project cannot confidently give you a response of when we will be live.

At present, we have shifted our priorities to shore-up the systems currently in use to ensure that we have continued business continuity until we go-live with the new SIS. This includes work to support SRS, building integrations for SRS with new government versions of student loan (SIMS) and application (EPBC) programs, and working on things like identity management. We will also be putting resources into process improvement to support key stakeholders that have taken some additional workload by waiting for the new system to arrive.

We will continue to update you every 2 to 3 months, and as needed, in the most transparent way possible. We promise to share the good, the bad and the ugly as we move through the rest of this project so we can finally get to the other side and start seeing some of the benefits of this implementation.


1. What type of improvements are we expecting with the new system?

The benefits will feel different across the college with the primary beneficiary being students. Information will be more transparent and intuitive, requiring less knowledge to accomplish simple tasks. This should translate into the college (after initial training) being able to provide more support for complex issues over support for basic tasks.

Generally, the new SIS system’s main improvement will be behind the scenes in reporting/integration capacity and flexibility, however, in addition, we are really looking forward to a credential audit function that will help students, chairs and deans complete the correct requirements toward graduation (which is all done manually at this time).

2. Will the new system help with program scheduling at the college?

The system will use the created academic schedule to support students in creating a student schedule but is not a program/course-scheduling or room-bookings system.

3. How much longer will the implementation take?

As mentioned in the original post, we are closely monitoring this question and hope to have the answer to share with the community sooner than later. Not having an answer is very frustrating for all involved.

Have More Questions?

Send me your questions, and I’ll add them to an FAQ section.