Three hours is a long time to spend in any line, let alone for basic student services.
This is exactly what Jennifer Steiss, a third-year psychology student at The University of Winnipeg, experienced this September.
Spending time in the line this year leads her to believe that the lines at Student Central have never been this long.
“I’ve talked to other people who waited even longer than me to pay their fees or drop a course,” Steiss said. “It’s ridiculous that students are required to waste so much time to perform a simple action.”
This year, Student Central employed a system in which students can track their standings in line by a number assigned to them.
“From what I’m told, the new system worked well, but there is still the initial issue that students can’t drop courses online after Sept. 7,” said John Corlett, vice president academic for the U of W.
“We do not have (a) proper information technology structure in place.”
Corlett adds that if the online system is adjusted to allow students to drop and register after classes begin, it could complicate other features of the system like student records.
To avoid the lines, some students chose to pay by cheque, or pay a $50 user fee to pay online by credit card. Staff at Student Central also stayed after hours in the first week of school to accommodate students’ needs.
“To me, these lines are a sign of our failure to address the problems we face processing and delivering services to students,” Corlett said.
There is also the little known option of faxing in your course adjustments, as second-year student Kirsten Penner-Goeke found out about in spring session.
“Since spring session has such a short drop period, I was recommended to fax my form in,” she said. “I did it this fall too. It’s the easiest option.”
Most students are unaware of the fax option, and instead wait in line.
Corlett believes funding is required to solve Student Central’s problems.
“We require an investment in information technology infrastructure,” he said. “We need to find money somehow to eliminate line ups.”
The system the U of W uses is called Datatel, and functions properly in many North American universities.
Corlett says the problem with the U of W’s system is not a simple mistake in coding and will have to be carefully fixed as to not affect the rest of the system.
“Students need to be in charge of their academic progress. We want them to go online and find all the information they need,” he noted. “We’re working on a lot of these things but still need to find funding.”
But results may not come as quickly as students want, Corlett says.
“When you look at the cost of bringing in the company to fix the glitch, the university has to weigh whether we can afford to take money away from other services to lessen Student Central lines.”
Visit Student Central on the main floor of Centennial for any questions about registering, getting lockers and your student ID.
Published in Volume 65, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 7, 2010)