State schools’ IT systems severely lacking: lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2009 11:41 PM | Updated as of Aug 17 2009 07:41 AM

MANILA - State universities and colleges (SUCs) are way behind in rolling out basic IT systems such as those that would enable students to pay for tuition electronically and retrieve their grades online, a lawmaker said Sunday.

Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology, has urged SUCs to establish area alliances and invest in groups in essential IT networks.

"We recognize that IT systems require extra spending that many SUCs can’t readily afford if they each decided to invest one by one. Thus, one practical approach is for them to form partnerships, combine limited financial resources, and develop shared networks," Santiago said in a press statement.

"This is what community colleges in the U.S. are doing. Groups of community colleges share IT systems that allow their students to pay fees online via credit or debit cards, and access their grades electronically," said Santiago, also former chief of the National Telecommunications Commission.

Students in American community colleges can even apply and pay for a transcript online, he pointed out.

"This can be duplicated here. For instance, all SUCs in Bicol can cost-effectively invest in a common IT system," added Santiago, whose home province hosts a state school – the Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) based in Virac.

He challenged SUCs to embrace and harness new technologies to boost administrative cost-efficiencies.

"There is no question that SUCs stand to lessen administrative costs, reduce paperwork, and generate huge long-term savings from shared IT systems," Santiago said.

"Right now, the campuses of SUCs have long queues everywhere during enrolment and releasing of grades. And schools have to force many staff and pay them extra to work overtime just to be able to cope with those waiting in line," he added.

At present, the country has 110 SUCs. They have 444 main and satellite campuses nationwide with a combined student population of more than 900,000. In addition, the country also has 77 local universities and colleges (LUCs).

SUCs are chartered public higher education institutions established by law, administered and financially subsidized by the national government. LUCs are those established by the local government through resolutions or ordinances. LUCs are financially supported by the local government concerned.