Common Application Platform (CAP) - System Design

Streamlining College Admissions using IndiaStack

Common Application Platform (CAP)
System Design Concept by
Subhankar Das

Going to college is one of the most significant stages of one’s life. The choice of educational institution is a crucial decision that will have an impact on one’s future opportunities and success. Therefore it is important that the process for applying to a college is simple, meaningful and hassle free. Traditionally, college admissions in India have been a stressful and chaotic experience for students, their parents and all other people involved. From the initial form filling, to the final verification of documents, it can be an arduous process. The problem is compounded by the fact that the various state and central universities have disparate application process, each requiring different sets of forms and documents.

Common Application Platform is a concept that will serve as a one stop portal for college admissions, without having to go through separate websites and processes.

Problem Area
A number of universities have migrated to online application systems for admissions, with the support for online payment of application fee, etc. But this change has not been uniform. Some institutions still require the applicant to fill in paper forms (or printed copies of the completed online form) and physically mail an entire set of documents within tight deadlines. Each institution has its specific application requirements. Since typically, students apply to mulitple colleges, it becomes hard to keep track of it all.

On the other hand, the university administration has to dedicate staff to sorting and filing all applications and manually verify all documents. A significant amount of time and manpower is spent on data entry work, especially on paper based application forms. Therefore, proves to be a cumbersome and costly affair for both the students and the institutes.

The Concept
The core concept is of a service referred to as Common Application Platform (CAP) that will allow a student to upload their relevant personal details and educational records on a common platform.

This will serve as an access point to apply for admission to different educational institutions, without having to go thorough the individual websites and processes.

The students also have the option to register and apply from the respective websites via the “service” (this will be facilitated thriugh APIs like OAuth and OpenID, similar to Facebook Connect, Login with Google, etc.

The CAP Model
System Map

Use Case 1
Student Creates CAP Account
Use Case 2
Student Applies for University Through CAP
Use Case 3
Student Applies Through University Website Using CAP

Process & Research
Technology Overview
It was important to understand the technology requirements at different levels of the system. The government of India has introduced several tools and platforms (IndiaStack) for organizations and independent developers to make use of the UID (Aadhaar) system. This section also briefly talks about The Common Applicaiton, which has been an inspiration for this project.

IndiaStack is a set of APIs that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise an unique digital Infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery.
About IndiaStack
Aadhaar Authentication
Aadhaar authentication is the process wherein Aadhaar Number, along with other attributes, including biometrics, are submitted online to the CIDR for its verification on the basis of information or data or documents available with it.
About Aadhar Authentication
Digital Locker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents & certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents. Indian citizens who sign up for a DigiLocker account get a dedicated cloud storage space that is linked to their Aadhaar (UIDAI) number.
About DigiLocker
eSign service allows applications to replace manual paper based signatures by integrating an API which allows an Aadhaar holder to electronically sign a form/document anytime, anywhere, and on any device legally in India.
About eSign
The Common Application
The Common Application (informally known as the Common App) is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to any of 693 member colleges and universities in 48 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, China, and many European countries.
About The Common Application
Overview of Existing System
As part of the initial research, I analyzed the admission process in some of India’s major universities/institutes. I selected Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), National Institute of Design (NID) and Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Srishti) for analysis. Following are some representations of the existing admission processes for the said institutes.

After this initial understanding of the admission process(es), I categorized the general experience of seeking an admission into 3 stages, along with the various touchpoints at each stage.
Application process stages
Types of applications


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Subhankar Das 2020