FILE PHOTO (Photo by Francia Denise M. Arizabal/ The Varsitarian)

THE UNIVERSITY will stick to an entirely online process for tuition payments and is not inclined to reintroduce on-site and over-the-counter (OTC) payment mechanisms, an official from the Office of the Vice Rector for Finance (OVRF) said.

In a letter to the Varsitarian, OVRF comptroller Edwin Fonacier said UST had decided to discontinue traditional payment methods due to “recurring challenges,” including payments not reflected on the student portal.

“The details of payment are encoded manually and, thus, are prone to error,” he said. “If the incorrect payment reference number is used, payments are not posted and will entail manual correction on our end.”

According to Fonacier, the use of the online payment portal, featuring e-wallet apps like GCash and Maya, along with debit and credit cards, would minimize the chances of errors occurring in tuition payments.

Over-the-counter (OTC) and online or mobile banking bills payments were halted as payment methods beginning the first term of Academic Year (AY) 2023-2024. On-site payments were made unavailable since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Over-the-counter [payments]…will not be brought back soon,” Fonacier said.

Part of the University’s justification for the 6-percent increase in tuition this academic year was the implementation of the online payment gateway.

According to Fonacier, the online payment gateway will save the University money.

“Online payment proves to be more cost-effective and efficient,” he said. “Considering this, onsite payment is out of our plans for the succeeding terms.”

“While the online payment gateway has been beneficial to more than half of the student population, we will not be able to reap its full benefits without removing the bills payment option from our roster of modes of payment,” he added. 

Fonacier said the University recorded a “significant decrease” in the number of enrollment-related concerns after the removal of OTC and online or mobile banking bills payment methods.

Reactions from students, parents

The removal of the OTC and bills payment methods drew mixed reactions from students and parents, with many concerned over security when transferring large amounts of money online.

Eve Rubio, a parent, said she preferred the OTC payment method as it gave her a physical receipt. 

“I would like to have a physical copy of the receipt of the payment I made especially because the money paid is quite large,” she said. “It (OTC) should still be an option as not everything that is digital and virtual is already convenient for everyone.”

Communication junior Gabrielle Busto said paying tuition fees through GCash was a “hassle” due to the amount limit for transferring funds.

“It is a bit frustrating because even though we don’t prefer it, we have no choice but to follow,” she said. 

Fonacier stressed that the Maya Business, the online payment gateway service provider employed by the University, had established online security measures.

“The Office for Information and Communications Technology ensures that the latest security protocol for our student portal is applied and is in use,” he said. “In addition, our online payment gateway service provider, Maya Business, is also using an anti-fraud tool for each transaction. They also apply the latest security protocol for online bank card transactions.”

Some Thomasians said the online payment gateway made enrollment more convenient but said OTC payment should still be kept as an option. 

“The overall admission process was fast and it was pretty easy to follow,” expressed Biancamae Lim, a physical therapy junior. “I also noticed that the system was able to verify immediately if our money was received by the school’s account.”

“However, I’ve been told of a few of my friends’ experiences wherein they had a bit of a rough time with the new mode of payment. That’s why I think having onsite or OTC payments should still be one of the options to maximize accommodation for other students,” she added. Mabel Anne B. Cardinez and Fernando Pierre Marcel B. de la Cruz with reports from Ernest Martin G. Tuazon. and Mikhail S. Orozco


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