How the network of the largest universities in Mexico centralized and optimized its complex academic planning
With a history spanning 50 years, Aliat is the largest university network in Mexico, comprising 7 educational institutions, 30 campuses, and more than 50,000 students in 18 of the country’s states.

Aliat’s relentless expansion has always presented a challenge to efficient resource planning at the institutional level. By 2016, management of spaces and resources had become overly complex, and organization of teaching groups and allocation of time slots, classrooms and teachers was no longer being done efficiently.

At the time, Aliat was conducting all of its academic planning manually and locally on each campus, and expansion of operations had rendered this a highly complex task which was consuming huge amounts of staff time. As the search began for more suitable alternatives, it soon became clear that any realistic solution would need to involve specialized technology.

The Challenge

Given the institution’s reputation and continuing expansion, Aliat decided that the solution they would ultimately implement should be world-class and, crucially, agile. The decision was also taken that, as well as centralizing the planning of timetables, spaces and other resources, the tool should enable visualization and management of the diverse variables that affect planning and allocation decisions.

As part of their search, Aliat contacted uPlanner, who began by providing consultation to identify the type of solution needed. Working together, the two organizations then agreed to implement the uPlanning academic planning tool.

Work Carried Out

During the consultation phase, uPlanner identified the Aliat institutions’ primary management and data storage requirements and provided support to their professional teams as they embarked upon the automation and standardization of processes. Implementation of the uPlanning solution then made it possible to centralize the process of defining teaching groups, replacing manual processes and establishing new data-driven procedures using artificial intelligence. Aliat’s new planning process now involves the following steps:

  • 1. Estimation of demand per institution.

    Enrolment rates are dependent upon study programs and the rate of students’ academic progress through the curriculum. This information is evaluated and verified by the academic leaders of each campus and study program.

  • 2. Initial proposal of an optimized timetable.

    This is shared locally, allowing academic directors to propose improvements or agree on required modifications.

  • 3. Optimal classroom allocation

    according to local capacity, specific course requirements, and estimated demand for each course teaching group.

  • 4. Assignment of the best teachers on campus

    to teach each content element. Although each campus is independently responsible for teacher allocation, Aliat has imposed the general requirement that only educators with the highest evaluation scores be selected.

  • 5. Assessment of academic performance indicators.

    General academic quality is assessed using the Net Promoter Score, which measures student satisfaction and improvements in pass and retention indicators. Operational efficiency is evaluated according to increases in average teaching group size per course, in facilities usage rates, and in profitability.

The Results

uPlanning helped Aliat Universidades to optimize resource planning, increasing average teaching group size by 77% over three years.
  • Incorporation of uPlanning’s algorithms into their academic planning processes

    yielded an increase in average teaching group size of 47% in the first year and 77% over three years (2016 to 2018), from 13 to 23 students. This represents a considerable saving in infrastructure usage and teaching costs and has enabled Aliat to redirect resources towards the teaching it provides.

  • The changes implemented also brought improvements in teacher performance.

    Simplification and automation of academic planning freed up a considerable portion of time that teachers had previously spent on these tasks, enabling them to focus more on their classes and students. Another contributing factor was the platform’s option to prioritize assignment of those teachers with the best evaluations and who truly inspire their students.

  • One benefit to students identified by Aliat is that implementation

    of uPlanning has increased interaction between students from different study programs, thus enriching their educational experience.