Contribution of integrated management systems to university management: case study of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte.

Author:Oliveira, Lucas Ambrosio B. de


According to Alonso (2010) apud INEP-Anisio Texeira National Institute of Educational Studies and Research (2008), higher education is experiencing rapid growth in Brazil and the dynamics of expansion is marked by a growing private sector. It is worth remembering that in accordance with data from the Anisio Texeira National Institute of Educational Studies and Research, higher education in Brazil is one of the most private-based in the world.

With this growth, according to Fook and Sidhu (2010) Institutions of higher education to revisit have their purpose assessment of if they hope to equip learners with skills and their competencies needed to succeed in today's workplace.

According to INEP (2010), 84% of the 5,115,896 higher education enrolments in 2009 were in private institutions, representing 89% of the 2,281 establishments.

The 2007 Census of Higher Education shows that 106 institutions were federal, 82 state and 2,032 private (Alonso, 2010). Approximately 2 thousand were characterized as faculties, schools, institutes, integrated faculties and technological faculties, while universities and university centers accounted for 8% and 5.3%, respectively. To accelerate growth in both federal and private IHL, the federal government adopted a series of measures aimed at public higher education called REUNI (Program of Support for Plans of Restructuring and Expansion of Federal Universities).

The REUNI program budgeted R$ 64 million for maintenance, personnel, designated functions and management positions and R$ 81 million in new projects, renovations and equipment, in addition to 344 new professors and 447 technical-administrative employees.

Based on this growth, it can be stated that universities have more information to manage and more complex processes to execute. This procedure includes student registration, grade processing and absences, as well as administrative information related to internal processes such as ordering material and employee attendance.

According to Elias et al. (2010) students seem to have difficulties in their academic study and coping with the learning tasks. Their difficulties include studies, personal, emotional and social matters; the use of tools can help in order to remedy this difficulty.

Institutions are therefore resorting to technology to enhance and simplify information management. Emulating information systems used by companies, teaching facilities are also adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), but only for information management.

It is noteworthy that ERP is an information system that integrates (in an only system) all organizational functions and processes (Karsak and Ozogul, 2007; Zahedi et al., 2011) facilitating the processes in the administrative functions (Drucker, 1998), providing cost reduction, waste of time, among other benefits (Hendricks et al., 2007).

Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to demonstrate the importance of information systems for university management and integration, focusing on decentralization and expansion of IHL. The research proposal of the present article is to answer the following question: how does an information system contribute to managing university expansion

The article begins with an introduction, followed by a section on theoretical foundations discussing university management and the information management system. Section 3, methodology, addresses the research methods used. Section 4 presents the case study, analyzing the information management system used by UFRN. Results of this analysis are shown in section 5, considering the contribution of the information system to university expansion, thereby meeting the study objective. The article concludes with a list of references.

Framework: Universities need adequate organizational structure and competent management. The strategies should be aimed at service quality and awareness of the importance of information systems in disseminating and socializing knowledge (Weiping, 2010; Bernardes and Abreu, 2004).

Information systems play a potentially key role in university administration since these institutions, like all organizations, are created to satisfy customer needs. The clientele of Brazilian universities is society as a whole, which benefits from their teaching practices and research. How can universities improve their management systems, both academically and administratively?

Over the years higher education in Brazil has undergone rapid and profound transformations in terms of its expansion and ultimate purpose (Macedo et al., 2005; Nascimento, 2006; Barreto and Filgueiras, 2007; McCowan, 2007; Castro, 2009; Omidinia et al., 2011). How can information management be optimized amidst this growth? An effective decision would be to implement an integrated information system, gathering information on all institution users, whether staff or students, in a single place. This would make it easier for the entire academic community to use the system in addition to streamlining administrative and academic procedures.

In this context, university management studies are relevant in that they indicate tendencies regarding the use of information systems aimed at the decision processes of IHL, in accordance with Bernardes and Abreu (2004) and Omidinia et al. (2011).

Universities should also adopt good management and technology processes to satisfy their users, that is, society, which enjoys the benefits of their teaching practices and research (Wainwright, 2005; Melian-Gonzalez and Bulchand-Gidumal, 2009; 2010). To that end, universities must make proper use of new technologies, primarily information management, by adopting systems that fit their specific needs (Bernardes and Abreu, 2004; Hidalgo et al., 2011).

Based on this knowledge of university management, we will now discuss concepts of information management systems and how these are incorporated into higher education institutions.

By "system" we mean a group of elements or parts integrated by a common objective (Davenport, 1998). Thus, the idea of organizations as systems integrates different functional areas towards a common goal. Information systems, in turn, can be understood as a group of interrelated components that collect, process, store and disseminate information to support decision making and managerial control. These systems can therefore be defined as the...

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