Institutional Research Overview

Checklist for Information Requests

Where to look for data

     Official Enrollment     OIRP
     Official Personnel Counts     OIRP
     Budget     Budget Office
     Facilities     Facilities Planning and Design
     Financial Aid     Financial Aid Office
     Inter-institutional (Peers)     OIRP
     Surveys (student, alumni, faculty, staff)     OIRP
     Multiple types of data     OIRP
     Class rolls, student lists, etc     Registration & Records
     Personnel and payroll     Human Resources



  • Quick and dirty (thumbnail sketch, use proxies, approximate with limits or boundaries)
  • Inform and / or stimulate discussion (simple unvarnished truth)

Public Statements

  • Study and / or change significant policy issues (detailed and defensible in court)
  • Sound bites (general statements with positive spin)

Who is the Primary Audience?

  • Public or Media
  • UNC-OP or Legislature
  • NC State University administration
  • Faculty
  • Students

What is the Deliverable?


  • One or two significant facts
  • Focused high-level study
  • Comphrensive detailed study

Time Period

  • Current data – most recent census or end of semester
  • Current data – extract from today’s transactional system
  • Recent history
  • Longer history
  • Future projections

Unit of Analysis

  • University aggregate
  • College totals
  • Department totals
  • Unit record

Delivery Format

  • Due date
  • Mechanism – email, web page, campus mail, in-person presentation, etc
  • File format – excel, flatfile, SAS dataset, html, etc


Census time point is the snapshot of student data taken at 5pm on the 10th day of classes. This raw data is the official headcount, course, and hours information used in many subsequent ways. OIRP is responsible for making student, course, and schedule files that are mandated by UNC-OP. The on-campus component of these files is due on October 15 in the fall semester. There are similar files and dates for spring and summer sessions. The time between census 10th day snapshot and due date is spent cleaning the data and constructing the specific data attributes in the mandate. See OP specifications in SDF Documentation, id=”dirguest”, password=”gadir”.OIRP releases headcounts in many breakouts for the first 10 days of the semester in the preliminary enrollment report. The last preliminary is published two days after census, the next report will be the official numbers published after the SDF is submitted to UNC-OP. There are typically a small handful of headcount changes as errors are corrected. Examples of errors corrected are duplicate records, incorrect attributes, changes in residency after census and before due date, and so on.Distance education enrolls most of their students before the census date, but there are late start courses that add students later in the semester. The distance education student headcounts, courses, and hours are not submitted to UNC-OP until the end of the semester. Since most of the information required to make decisions is needed before the end fo the semester, the late-start students are basically left out of reporting. The university does receiving funding for the fundable SCHs delivered through distance education.
Full Time Equivalents (FTEs)
Defined by the tuition payment structure, 1 FTE is 12 credits or more for undergraduates and 9 credits or more for graduate students. See the tuition tables on the Cashier’s Office website.
Arenas of Data

Student data transactional systems are managed for the use of Registration & Records, Financial Aid, Cashier’s Office, and others. The data in these systems changes every day. An extract on any given day during the semester will have valid student data in it, but adding up the headcounts will not match OIRP’s official counts because of changes over time. The census files are written at a point in time and do not change after that.

Transcripts are the official statement of a student’s record, and the data changes every day in a transactional system. When compared to the transcript, the data in the census file could differ. There are also historical-data time points at the end of the semester for the grades information. These also age quickly when compared to the transcripts. A transcript analysis task is very messy and time consuming. OIRP typically lives with the margin of error between census and transcripts, so uses the census data as the historically consistent way to produce trends and historical reports. We will adjust the historical data for administrative and some policy changes to make history look like the current structure of the university.

How will the Information be used?