Software bug downs Macquarie student admin portal

Liz Tay | Feb 2, 2012 2:28 PM
Students unable to enrol in university classes.

Macquarie University students were intermittently barred from online enrolments this week due to a bug in the institution's eStudent administration portal.

Some 31,000 students use the portal – based on TechnologyOne’s StudentOne product – to enrol in classes, access their grades and pay fees.

The university had steeled itself for a period of high demand, with students preparing to return from summer holidays in four weeks’ time.

But performance of the site degraded severely late Monday night, when an application query began consuming about 85 percent of all available database capacity.

System performance fluctuated throughout the day, so despite intermittent failures, eStudent has processed 67,000 class registrations since Monday night, and almost a third more registrations on Tuesday than the same time last year.

However, deputy vice-chancellor Deidre Anderson acknowledged that “the personal experience for students has been unacceptable”.

“Many students had difficulty accessing the system and organising their timetable,” she told students yesterday afternoon.

“I apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience this has caused and the additional stress created by this failure.”

A Macquarie University spokesman said it identified a bug in the StudentOne software at about 11.30am yesterday and applied a workaround in consultation with TechnologyOne.

The university advised students that the issue had been resolved at about 7pm.

According to the university’s spokesman, eStudent is hosted on two computing grids at separate sites connected over 10 Gbps fibre, with access to “multiple terabytes of high-performance storage”.

He emphasised that it was not a hardware fault.

In her message to students, Anderson said: “We had a high-performance grid available and engineers on site around the clock.

“Despite this, we experienced a number of critical system failures.

“None of these failures took the system offline for long, but to prevent further incidents we had to reduce the number of students able to access it at any one time.”

Macquarie University has used StudentOne since 2001, alongside Curtin University, James Cook University and Flinders University.