UP enrollment glitches prompt House probe
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna — Complaints over glitches in the online enrollment system used by students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños have prompted calls for a congressional investigation of a project that upgraded the state university’s information systems.
On Monday, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago filed a resolution seeking to investigate, in aid of legislation, the eUP project, a flagship project of UP President Alfredo Pascual to modernize and streamline the university’s database across all UP campuses.
In 2012, UP partnered with ePLDT and telecommunications giant Smart Communications Inc., for the six-year project that runs a program using computer software, Oracle.
UP, in its website, said it spent P135 million for the core information systems alone, but the All UP Academic Employees Union-UPLB (AUPAEU) said the entire eUP project cost more.
One of the information systems of the eUP is the Student Academic Information System (SAIS), a data management system that also allows students to pre-enlist in courses offered for the first semester this school year.
In UPLB, SAIS replaced SystemOne, an online registration system developed by UPLB’s own computer experts in 2007.
Aside from UPLB, SAIS is also being used this semester in UP campuses in the cities of Manila, Cebu and Baguio.
The online enrollment that started July 29, however, was marred by system errors, with several students complaining of failing to access the SAIS website.
Over the weekend, hundreds of students were forced to stay outdoors until the wee hours, lugging laptops, smartphones and other electronic gadgets, hoping to log into the system using UPLB’s Wi-Fi connection.
The INQUIRER, on Monday, sought comments from UPLB officials but was told they were in a meeting.
Merwin Alinea, University Student Council chair, said the SAIS system worked on Sunday afternoon, but students interviewed by the INQUIRER said slots for some courses had been limited.
Mary Aubrey Khaye Mercado, a statistics student, said parents had to accompany their children around the campus while trying to access the website.
“I wish they would go back to SystemOne. That was used last semester, and the enlistment went on smoothly,” said Enrico Volante, an electrical engineering student.
The AUPAEU, in a statement, said it “has been the longest and most frustrating registration period for UPLB students,” noting that similar glitches were also experienced by students and teachers in UP Manila.
“SAIS uses proprietary software from Oracle and has reportedly cost over P24 million for the initial roll-out. It should be noted that the various UP units, including UPLB, already have registration systems that function way better than SAIS and cost just a fraction of the current system,” Elago’s resolution read.
“We need to see if UP was shorthanded in entering this contract with private entities…,” it added.
The Office of the University Registrar said classes will proceed as scheduled on Aug. 3 despite the delay.
In a statement, UP’s eUP team apologized for the SAIS downtime.
“It seems our team and partner ePLDT’s efforts to remedy the situation did not meet your expectations, and for that, we sincerely apologize,” it said.
“No one is more regretful for this lapse than we are as implementers of this system. However, we stand by the belief that with its continued use and your support, SAIS will improve and scale greater heights of quality, reliability, and operational efficiency,” it added. JE/rga
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