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MCP Stays in Spite of Fiscal Crisis

Despite expanding class sizes and drastic budget cuts, UCSB students will still be responsible for averaging a 15-unit course load per the Minimum Cumulative Progress policy implemented last fall.

MCP was designed to boost state funding for the university and help students graduate in a timely manner, and according to Steve Velasco, director of Institutional Research and Planning, the policy has done just that. Over the past year, the average undergraduate study load has increased from 14.2 to 14.7 units. However, while school administrators are pleased with the results of MCP, many students complain that the policy asks too much of them.

Mary Nisbet, acting dean of Undergraduate Education, said the major goals of MCP have been met since the policy has come into effect.

“Although the increase is only about half a unit, when you multiply that fraction by the number of students we have, that is actually quite successful,” Nisbet said.

Before implementing the policy, only about 50 percent of undergraduate students registered at UCSB qualified as full-time students under the UC system’s cumulative unit standards. Since the university’s financing is based on full-time students, UCSB had received less instructional funds from the State of California due to the shortfall of people with at least 12 units.

“Our funding is based on a formula that takes into account the number of units students take,” Nisbet said. “That average had been going down at UCSB. What we discovered last year was that MCP has really helped us in terms of getting money for students — money that aids in teaching and instructional needs.”

However, despite positive evaluations from the administration, Nisbet said adherence to the policy would remain somewhat flexible, especially considering the ravaging effects the budget cuts have had on class availability.

“We’re definitely keeping it under review,” Nisbet said. “Right now, we’re still expecting people to meet MCP targets. But, obviously, if students are finding it impossible to get enough units when up against a large incoming class and budget cuts, we’ll consider revisions.”

The policy met student resistance last year, with many claiming they would be unable to meet requirements. However, students can receive an exception from MCP under certain circumstances.

Chris Wendle, Associated Students’ Internal Vice President, said he considers the plan inappropriate given the current circumstances. Despite its honorable intentions, Wendle said, it imposes unrealistic expectations on students.

“We’re in a time where, even if students tried to graduate in four years, they can’t,” Wendle said. “It puts unnecessary pressure on students and could possibly increase the mental crisis that already exists on this campus. It’s unfair to raise fees, offer fewer classes and then throw in MCP.”

Erica Thoe, a fourth-year political science and communications major, also said MCP is too inflexible for most students.

“I don’t really think it’s a plausible solution,” Thoe said. “It’s a rigid structure that doesn’t really accommodate for individual needs.”

Lamenting a lack of student support, Nisbet maintained that the policy has students’ best interests in mind.

“If students are falling short of MCP targets, this means they’re potentially missing the chance to graduate in four years,” Nisbet said. “With the rising costs of college, we’re hoping to save students a lot of extra time and money.”

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One Response to MCP Stays in Spite of Fiscal Crisis

  1. konijn

    October 1, 2009 at 3:47 am

    The title of the article should be "MCP stays in spite of reduced number of available courses".

    I would like to know if there was any kind of study asking students if they find difficulty in achieving the 15 unit requirement or checking class registration patterns to see if it’s possible to achieve this requirement without having to take a meaningless course (that doesn’t lead you to a degree) that wasn’t cut that nobody wants to take. How many students get 15 units by taking those 1 unit sport classes that are going to get axed? How does this aid in improving student turnover?

    There has not been a proper discussion nor any proper research about MCP (reported to the students/faculty at least) so the decision to keep MCP is one made without any basis. It seems that it all comes to funding… who cares about the students if the school’s administration can cover their bottom line. Maybe the administration are still hopeful they can collect on their bankrupt calpers pensions.