THE DREAM was big—a hassle-free enrollment online for some 30,000 students—but the birth pains were palpable.

The ambitious project was pilot-tested in five colleges from May 23 to June 2 with only 483 enrollees signing up at the online portal. And of the number, only 106 students completed the process.

Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., director of the Santo Tomas e-Services Providers (Steps), said the program was intended to decongest on-campus enrollment by maximizing the Internet technology.

Online enrollment was initially opened to the Faculties of Medicine and Surgery and Pharmacy, and the Colleges of Nursing, Rehabilitation Sciences, and Architecture.

Cabading said these “medium-sized” colleges were ideal for a “test-drive” of the service to avoid system glitches and errors.

But glitches were still there.

Some of the problems had to do with unfamiliarity with the online procedure. College secretaries said word about the new program was spread only through text messages and social networking sites.

UST cashier Leticia Timbol attributed the small number of successful enrollees to encoding problems.

“The rest (of the students) were unsuccessful because they paid, but they did not indicate their student number or they became an unidentified payer because instead of student number, they indicated their account number,” she explained. Architecture college secretary Warren Maneja said students encountered difficulties on payment procedures and confirmation of their enrollment.

“Some students were asking where they would address the receipt of payment, while others had problems when the Internet connection lagged at the moment they were paying, but the Steps assured (them) that the transaction (was not compromised),” he said.

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The off-campus enrollment was opened to third and fourth year students, except in Medicine where sophomores were also allowed. University scholars and irregular students were not permitted to use the service.

‘Big leap forward’

Upon clicking the “Start Enrollment” link at http://myuste.ust.edu.ph:8888/student/, the process begins with accepting and confirming pre-advised courses from the colleges’ dean’s offices. The assessment and breakdown of fees will then appear on screen asking the student whether he wants to print the assessment form or not.

After selecting the amount to be paid, two payment options at the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) will be shown.

One is through the BPI website where an account holder can enroll as “UST merchant” or depositor. If a student does not have a BPI account, he or she may pay over-the-counter at any BPI branch by indicating his or her student number and UST account number.

After payment, the student should get his or her Registration form (Form 1) from the dean’s office during the first and second week of classes. Other forms such as the Student Conforme Code of Conduct and Discipline may be signed upon the receipt of registration form. As of press time, Timbol said the cashier’s office was still in the process of identifying successful enrollees.

Although only 41 students from Medicine enrolled off-campus, Faculty Secretary Imelda Dakis said things became confusing when the registration forms arrived late.

“The period between the time that the student enrolled and the time we had to finalize our list for the dissemination to the faculty members took a little long. So what we did was we gave (the faculty) a tentative list,” she said.

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Professors do not accept students who are either not on the list, or do not have registration forms, she added.

Despite the glitches, she commended UST for the online program, saying it “does not only lessen the work of (school) personnel (but) also reduces the effort exerted by the students.”

Maneja said it was a “big step forward” for the University to have such a system adding that irregular students should also be able to enroll outside the campus.

“It will be a great help to a college where students are a number,” he said. “It’s a futuristic move of helping both the students and their parents.”

With off-campus enrollment, incidents of loss of cash during enrollment period will be minimized, Cabading said. Andrewly A. Agaton, Rose May Y. Cabacang and Alexis Ailex C. Villamor, Jr.

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