September 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 12  

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NEWS

OSAP service hit by virus, blackout

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

As if the power outage last month wasn't annoying enough, some universities across Ontario have found that it may be the cause for a delay in delivering Ontario Student Assistance Program loans.

Students at the University of Waterloo faced extra long lines when picking up their OSAP loans this September. Immediately following the blackout, administrators at the university found the OSAP information system was extremely slow, explained Martha Foulds, financial aid coordinator at Waterloo.

"Our staff was working overtime to offset the delay," Foulds said. "Waterloo students expect [OSAP] documents to be completed on time," she noted, adding she did not want to disappoint expectations of prompt service.

In addition to the lethargic computer system, non-essential government employees were not working after the blackout to conserve energy. Luckily, Foulds explained, OSAP-processing government employees made requests to the Premier to be considered "essential," so they could.

"[At Waterloo] we don't have the luxury of a slow summer to process OSAP because of the co-op system," Foulds explained, adding with the short period of time, the delay was even more of an inconvenience at Waterloo.

Western students will not have to worry about delays in OSAP, said Glen Tigert, director of student financial services. "The financial office was ahead of schedule by about eight to ten weeks," he said, adding the delays merely put things back on time.

"The OSAP computer system was not affected by the blackout," said Dave Ross, spokesperson for Ontario's ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Ross said there was a disruption to computer services, but it was caused by the "blasterworm" virus during the blackout. "This problem was patched up very quickly and the service was back up within the week," he noted.

As part of the cautionary measures, computer systems that had a virus were cut off from the OSAP system, Ross explained. This may have contributed to OSAP delays in some schools.

 

 

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