Is it still birthing pains?
A few days before the pre-registration for Academic Year 2020-2021, the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) once more crashes and glitches. A part of the Electronic UP (eUP) Project, SAIS has been the lightning rod of criticism from students and faculty members alike, four years since it was first implemented.
Students who attempted to prepare their desired courses prior to August 18 struggled to “add courses to the cart,” as the system reportedly performed slowly or otherwise refused to accept any of the users’ commands. Users also reported receiving a blank, white screen upon logging-in, with the only message greeting them at the top-most center is a “504 Gateway Time-out” error.
Following this, the UPLB University Student Council (USC) posted a letter addressed to chancellor Dr. Fernando Sanchez, Jr., on August 16. They called for the immediate postponement of the pre-registration period for students.
In the letter, signed by USC chairperson Jainno Bongon (then-vice chairperson), factors such as vague details on how to accomplish physical tasks such as laboratory work and tuition payment processes. The letter noted that there might be other concerns such as unstable Internet connection.
“The lack of measures to support those without access to a stable internet, which is a requisite to registration, and SAIS was frequently crashing would also affect a student’s registration, It is only imperative that these issues be addressed before we proceed to pre-registration or registration to ensure that no student will be left behind,” said in the letter.
SAIS was originally designed to replace SystemOne in A.Y. 2016-2017, during Sanchez’s first term. eUP, the project under which SAIS is a part of, has a five year budget of P751.9 million, and has companies such as Electronic Philippines Long Distance Telephone (ePLDT) and Smart Communications Incorporated as its investors.
According to then-UP Assistant Vice President for Development and Director Jamie Caro, P14.1 million was used for the project’s Oracle Software Perpetual License, while P23.6 million to cover the expenses in implementing the project.
In a dialogue with UP President Danilo Concepcion, UPLB students pointed out SAIS as one of the causes behind the piling-up of rejected Maximum Residency Rule (MRR) and readmission cases.
The constant server crashes and slow, laggy response time proved to be inconvenient for students over the years. There was an instance in 2016 when most of the learners had to endure long hours at night in order to access UPLB’s Wi-Fi. This was because the moderators of SAIS revealed that the system worked better with the use of campus Wi-Fi. Many times, students would be forced to stay longer than needed in the university, due to the dwindling number of slots during registration.
MRR refers to an instance when a student fails to comply with academic demands in a span of time, with Readmission referring to any student attempting to proceed with his or her studies, after leaving campus for different reasons.
Rise 4 Education Alliance (R4E) UPLB’s Shaira Daludalo revealed that UPLB has the highest number of such cases. She said that the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) does not consider issues such as financial matters and mental health when it came to deliberating over the situation.
Despite the rising number of cases, the UP administration was repeatedly criticized for not heeding to the needs of the students, with them being described as “apathetic” even.
In 2016, students and alliances marched to the UPLB Main Library to protest SAIS. On February 3, 2020, a heated discussion between the students and the UP administration, including UP president Danilo Concepcion took place, which led to both Sanchez and Concepcion talking to the attendees one at a time. On February 12, a memorandum stated that unregistered students would not be allowed to attend classes. This was later reversed on February 21.
With Dr. Maribel L. Dionisio-Sese, an Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) professor taking over as University Registrar, R4E hoped that Dionisio-Sese would use her new position to uphold the students’ demands. Among them included junking SAIS. [P]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Upon revisiting this article amidst recent reports on SAIS crashes, the editor found faulty claims regarding the stakeholders of the SAIS project under eUP and its effects on the studentry. The article has been edited on January 25, 2022 to clarify this issue, and we apologize for the oversight.
Photo from UPLB Freedom Wall Facebook page