University of Hawaii officials hope demand on their overwhelmed computer system that has prevented some students from registering for next semester’s classes eases by today’s deadline to submit tuition payments — which can be done only online.
With a record enrollment for spring semester classes expected for the 10-campus UH system, UH’s computerized registration system was especially overloaded on Wednesday, the first day freshmen could sign up for classes, UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said.
"We’re sorry that students are encountering this problem," Takayama said. "We want to make it as easy as possible because we want them to come here. We think the problem has eased up."
Registering for classes is often a frustrating exercise for UH students, but was worse this year as many students in the sputtering economy decided to stay in school.
Enrollment dropped this semester at UH’s flagship Manoa campus, which has the highest tuition and student fees in the UH system.
But enrollment jumped at the nine other UH campuses this fall, pushing overall enrollment to a record high of 60,231 students, a 3.6 percent increase over last year’s record.
SECURITY EXPERT REVIEWS UH INFORMATION BREACH
The University of Hawaii has brought in an expert in college information security after a breach that led to the release of personal information of more than 40,000 UH students.
A now-retired Institutional Research Office faculty member at the UH-West Oahu campus inadvertently posted information in November 2009 that remained on the Internet until Oct. 18, when the breach was discovered.
The information included students’ Social Security numbers, citizenship, highest level of education attained by their parents, marital status and addresses.
Yesterday, UH officials announced that Cedric Bennett, Stanford University’s information security director emeritus, interviewed UH leaders, staff and faculty last week. Bennett will identify information security weaknesses and make recommendations.
UH officials expect to receive Bennett’s preliminary report before Christmas. A preliminary plan and budget for improvements is expected by early January, UH officials said.
UH’s seven community colleges combined had a 6.4 percent enrollment increase from last fall.
With so many trying to get classes for next semester, several students reported more difficulty than usual locking down classes yesterday.
Lorin Reid, a communications junior at UH-Manoa, had registered for 12 units by yesterday but had been unable to access the computer system all week to change some of her choices.
"I have been trying," Reid said. "For the last three days it’s been so overloaded."
She wants to add some classes and drop others, but was worried yesterday about an even bigger problem: not being able to pay her tuition by today’s 4 p.m. deadline.
"If I can’t get in to pay, I’ll get dropped from everything," Reid said. "This is crazy. It’s just so ridiculous."
Takayama said UH information technology employees were working yesterday on a possible work-around by developing a "separate channel" for students who have registered and only need to pay for their classes, Takayama said.
"If the logjam persists," Takayama said, "they’ll try to separate those students who just have to pay."
Earlier, students were assigned windows of time when they could begin registering, based on their last name and grade level.
With so many of them trying to register as soon as they were eligible, the system could not keep up before the next window opened for the next group of students, Takayama said.
"The system backed up," he said. "Everybody trying to log on at the same time aggravated the problem."
At first, students received error messages encouraging them to try again later, Takayama said.
But when students made repeated attempts, "that just aggravated the problem even more," he said.
Holly Jones, a junior studying travel industry management at Manoa, needs 12 to 15 units to stay on track to graduate, but had not been able to register for a single class by yesterday.
So Jones hopes to benefit from the backlog — as long as enough other students give up trying to register.
"If people can’t pay their tuition (by today)," she said, "I’m hoping somehow I can get in."