Teething problems with a new online student information system meant many students were forced to register for classes on the first day of term this month at the University College of the Cayman Islands.
Disgruntled students flocked to the university when they found they were unable to register online because the new system showed them as having outstanding fees.
A new annual $50 technology fee was introduced by the university this academic year. Students who had paid in advance for their courses last year found that the system had recorded them as having outstanding balances and locked them out from checking grades and registering for the spring term.
Acting president of UCCI, Brian Chapell, said: ‘Some people registered early in the summer for classes. The fees were applied to their accounts after the registration for fall classes. Those appeared as outstanding fees, the students didn’t know about them.
‘Monday last week was a crazy day for us. We had 400 people coming through. I know there were several people on Monday who had that problem.’
He described the scene on the first day of school this year as ‘organised chaos.’
The university implemented in May last year the Blackbaud Student Information System – known as myUCCI – which allows students to register online for classes, view previous grades, view the status of their current enrollment and their degree plan.
A notice on the UCCI website on Monday this week was showing the system as not working, stating: ‘The myUCCI registration system is currently down. We apologise for any inconvenience and it should be up by early afternoon.’
‘It’s been a learning experience for all of us. We want to make sure it does not happen next year,’ Mr. Chapell said.
The closing date for registration for classes this spring term is 20 January.
‘The problems are the normal problems you would see with people learning a new system. There are quirks and nuances with all new systems. Given the fact that prior to this, we had basically a manual system in which everything was on paper and put in the database, it was a real big step for us, technology-wise, to go to this new system.’
Mr. Chapell added that students had been able to register for the spring semester since 1 November. ‘The students could have come in at any time to pay since 1 November. If they’d done that, they would have known about any outstanding fees.’
Students are required to pay fees prior to registering and must register for each semester. While they can now register online, they are unable to pay fees online, although Mr. Chapell said he hoped online payment could be introduced in the future.
He admitted that the university had expected there to be issues with the system. ‘It was a bold step, changing from a manual-driven system, we knew there would be problems with the system. We expected the first three terms [of using it] to be the most problematic. We expect by May, most problems will be sorted out and by September they’ll be all gone. It’s been a steep learning curve.’