Before next sem’s clock strikes SAIS [EDITORIAL (Vol. 24, №1)
Serving the second largest college of UP Diliman in terms of population is not easy at all, especially for a newspaper which has just been raised from the dead. Yet by taking on the challenge of serving as an alternative to media traditionally dominated by interests of the ruling classes, we in Scientia aim to scrutinize what they leave unscrutinized, tell what they don’t tell, give letters to the unlettered. It must be impressed upon the students that science and technology is too important to be left to scientists and the ruling classes alone. CS students ought to be at the forefront of critical issues in S and T, especially the ones that would most immediately affect them, such as the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) set to be rolled out in our campus by next semester.
SAIS is an information system that forms one of the five components of the eUP project churned out by the Pascual administration and set to be implemented by its partner private entities Oracle and SMART Communications. eUP aims to integrate and harmonize the various information and communications technology (ICT) systems among different UP units starting from 2012 up to 2017. On the other hand, the SAIS component of eUP will be the one used to manage everything related to a student’s lifecycle, such as admission, registration, enrollment, graduation, and alumni tracking. Compared to the Computerized Registration System (CRS) currently in use, SAIS would also be more expensive to maintain at P8 million per year, compared to the CRS which just costs P1.5 million per year. In addition, unlike CRS, SAIS is a form of proprietary software sold for profit, which will make it more difficult to be customized to suit the university’s specific needs. Rather, it would force the university and the students to adapt to it.
The effects of this forced adaptation on the students of smaller campuses where SAIS has been deployed shows the horrendous experience that is in store for the students should it be deployed here. For instance, there were lost enlisted subjects, a return to manual enrollment, and inaccurate calculations of tuition.
Aside from students, the project also sidelined our university’s homegrown IT talent and systems as it looms to replace the CRS that had been long designed to suit our needs. Several CRS staff have resigned upon knowing that SAIS will replace CRS. Local programmers and legacy system administrators also complained of being left in the dark regarding the project.
Despite the sheer expense and problems involved in its implementation, SAIS purportedly offers more modules such as online batch advising and alumni tracking. But some of these additional modules, such as the Student Record module, appear to have functions that seem to be no different from the current ones in CRS.
Instead of buying much more expensive and controversial software from foreign companies, the administration must continue supporting and improving its homegrown talent and systems that suits the students’ needs. If it really wants to efficiently harmonize and integrate the ICT systems of various UP units, the administration should also initiate and support a system-wide project that would involve the people already working in the respective student information systems of the various UP units.
CS students must realize the urgency of this issue. We cannot afford to experience the hell that students from other UP campuses already had with SAIS. We must follow the issue as it unfolds and attend discussions regarding the project. The more we become informed, the more we should be critical of the motivations of those in charge of eUP. Then, we must join collective actions, such as petitions and mobilizations, to pressure the administration to stop the program. We may also ask recourse from the courts of law. The clock is ticking. Apathy and resigning ourselves to fate is not our option.