Tuition Payment Deadline Extended

New Online Student System Fixes Glitches

Graphic Sam Jones

The tuition fee deadline has been extended in response to confusion and minor glitches in the new “Student Centre” within the MyConcordia portal.

The new Student Information System (SIS) launched last Monday and was followed by complaints by students in person and on social media as they tried to access portal services.

Paul Martin is part of the 23-member student brigade helping students get used to the new system through demonstrations. They will be working around both campuses for the next five weeks. Guides are available online.

The system is a $23 million capital investment in IT infrastructure. It’s expected to serve Concordia for the next 30 to 40 years.

The new SIS combines a number of different systems including the Financial Aid and Awards, Continuing Education, Faculty Course Management, Student Accounts, Registration systems into a product by Oracle People Solution. It’s already in place at Université de Montreal, HEC and schools across the U.S. and Canada.

The old MyConcordia worked to combine all the different systems set up over the years by Concordia IT developers. The SIS will instead be managed and updated by the people at Oracle.

“Lots of people were retiring and taking their expertise with them,” said Bradley Tucker about the decision to adopt the new software. Tucker is the Associate Vice-President Registrarial Services and the university’s registrar.

“[Internal developers] would build things on old platforms and those older platforms become obsolete.”

Tucker says Concordia’s IT structures have changed little in the last 32 years, evoking a time when students would call and dial in to register for classes.

“The way it looks changes, you go from dialing in to punching in, but underneath they work in similar ways,” he said.

Students have criticized the bad timing of the launch. Tucker said they studied all the possible windows for launching the system and decided the best time was after the deadline for dropping courses with the tuition refund.

But the launch left a lot of students little time to get used to the system and point out problems before the deadline to pay tuition fees.

Tucker says the SIS team tried to encourage students to get fees paid early. To compensate, Concordia pushed the tuition fee deadline to Feb. 9.

“We do expect there to be a transition,” Tucker said, calling the system complex. “It takes time for people to develop fluency.”

He’s certain the SIS will “become second nature.”

The SIS installers will continue tweaking elements within the program to make it more functional. One of the biggest issues is fixing security access by giving students the proper “permissions” they need to use certain functions.

It’s unlikely the SIS will change aesthetically, unless Oracle changes the design of its program. However, Tucker says they are looking for feedback on how well the system works.

Meanwhile, Martin from the student brigade is hoping to introduce new functions to students.

The SIS allows waitlisting for classes that are full, and has a shopping cart function as well as a swap function that allows students to switch classes.

“You can really start to combine the functions,” he said, adding that registration should be easier since there won’t be a risk of losing a spot.

The new student course schedule in the portal is supposed to be a dynamic calendar that includes holidays and breaks.

Martin and Tucker are eager for students to begin summer registration, but there’s no way to fix bugs that will come up before it begins in a few months.

After the SIS campaign dies down there’s talk of an app launching in the fall.