ASIA’S oldest university has made the bold shift to electronic management as the Santo Tomas E-Service Providers (Steps), the former UST Computer Center, launched several projects to improve administrative processes and student services through electronic communications.

The “FRx Budget Forecaster,” and e-requisition system, will help achieve “paper-less” transactions as certain administrative processes would be conducted on-line instead of the old system of filling out forms, according to Prof. Jaime Dolera Jr., Steps administrator for software development and data processing.

E-requisition ensures faster delivery of requested materials and services through on-line requisition forms.

Dolera said that the Budget Forecaster allows faster approval of budget proposals that would help better fund management.

Budget Office director Prof. Florita Aguiling said the Budget Forecaster is yet to be fully implemented in the department as personnel are still undergoing training.

“Hopefully, we will have it fully implemented by next semester,” she said.

Dolera also said the University has set aside the Common Business Oriented Language (Cobol) in favor of the Oracle System, which apparently has better database capabilities, toward better student services.

Last summer, Steps implemented the Oracle system in the Faculty of Civil Law, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, and the Graduate School, the only colleges still using the Cobol system despite the shift to the new system in 2000.

In addition, the newly built Data Center behind the Benavides Bldg. will soon house all the University’s major computer equipment and servers.

“The Data Center is still in progress, there is still no definite date for its full operation. So far, we have already transferred equipment from the EdTech Center and we are still stabilizing the servers,” Fr. Melchor Saria, O.P., Steps director, said.

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In a report published in the Steps newsletter, Prof. Carlos Tengkiat, Steps assistant director for network operations, said that because of the Data Center, the maintenance of the servers would be easier. He explained the University would now have better online services, which is crucial to e-management.

Also under implementation is the online access of the Journals section of the UST Central Library.

According to Estrella Majuelo, chief librarian, the database program was purchased for a more efficient access to the library’s journal resource.

The new P1-million database program comprises the library’s print and electronic journal collection in summarized form.

For security purposes, it can only be accessed inside the University through http://search.epnet.com.

Hosted by the Elton B. Stephens Company, the world’s largest scholarly, multi-disciplinary, full-text database designed specifically for academic institutions, the program supplies about 8,000 additional collections of web-based journals.

To accommodate all users of the online administrative and student services, Steps also plans to increase the number of computer units in the University.

“We are planning to add 150 more computer units in the Central Library, and also to increase the number of multimedia classrooms per college,” Fr. Saria said.

New library facilities are also being built in the Central as well as college libraries.

As if to dissuade fears of a systemic bogdown, Fr. Saria added that the University’s Internet service uses a very fast bandwidth.

“UST is using DS-3, a high-end bandwidth classification, making downloads and web browsing a lot faster,” Fr. Saria explained.

At present, Dolera said the results of the projects, particularly the student service-related projects have not yet been significantly felt because implementation requires coordination with the departments concerned and key areas, which takes time.

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Fr. Saria hopes all the services will be fully implemented in two years. Lady Camille L. de Guia and Mary Elaine V. Gonda with reports from Steps, the UST ICT Newsletter and www.ebsco.com

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