As part of a new policy that ensures UCSB students are averaging 15 units per quarter, university administrators will begin informing the campus this fall of its upcoming academic progress checks.
The policy, approved in June by UCSB’s Faculty Legislature, will take effect in Fall 2008 and require the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies to review each student’s progress every second quarter. The office will then advise undergraduates who fall below cumulative unit requirements to seek academic counseling during their first infractions, but may have students dismissed from campus if they frequently fail their progress checks. The policy follows recent studies by the Faculty Legislature that claim UCSB students take the smallest average courseload systemwide and are thus depriving the university of an extra $10 million from the UC Office of the President.
Additionally, while Advanced Placement courses will continue to count toward graduation, the Minimum Cumulative Progress checks will not include these units during reviews from the Office of the Dean.
Dean of Undergraduate Studies Alan J. Wyner said the two main goals of the MCP are to increase the percentage of students graduating on time, as well as to avoid losing further funding when students fail to take 45 units per year. He said a set of four workshops will offer students guidance through the nuances of the MCP.
Wyner also said the university will produce a new Web site this Wednesday that illustrates how many units students should have by the end of each quarter.
“We want to give students ample time so they know where they need to be on the chart,” Wyner said.
According to UC regulations, each campus receives funding from the University based upon a standard known as the full-time equivalent ratio. Under this standard, the UC appropriates funds based upon the number of undergraduate units for full-time students over the amount of full-time students, with a ratio cap of 1.0. Full-time students are considered as individuals who average 15 units per quarter. According to Wyner, UCSB has an FTE ratio of .94.
However, at the June Faculty Legislature meeting, members indicated that 50 percent of UCSB undergraduates are failing to meet the cumulative unit expectations outlined by the University of California, thus preventing the campus from obtaining the additional $10 million in funding.
UCSB Registrar Virginia Johns said students may take advantage of summer sessions to correct their probation without their enrollment counting against their average.
“Students get the opportunity of a freebie over summer,” Johns said.
College of Engineering Associate Dean Glenn Beltz said the summer courses allow students to manage their workload more efficiently.
“If you take a light load over two quarters, you can take two classes during summer school and be okay,” Beltz said.
According to the UCSB Summer Sessions Web site, summer fees are $147 per unit for undergraduate students.
However, some students who are employed and involved in extracurricular activities said they will find the new regulations cumbersome. Hilary Usrey, a second-year psychology major, said the decision to raise the unit minimum was unreasonable due to other obligations that some students must balance.
“It’s really unfair that they didn’t take into consideration those students who have jobs,” Usrey said. “They didn’t have the students’ best interests at heart. They were just being greedy.”
However according to Wyner, the university will utilize the funds to improve the quality of undergraduate education at UCSB by investing in new technology and hiring additional instructors and teaching assistants.
Associated Students President Stephanie Brower said that, while she would prefer UCSB not require the new averages and progress checks, she will invest her time into making sure the newly acquired funds are well spent.
“I would love to see the requirements changed,” Brower said. “However, from what I gathered, it is not realistic to pursue…. My concern is that the money goes toward classes.”
She said she hopes the university will use funds to prevent majors from becoming impacted, while also providing more money for TAs. Brower said she intends to hold a town hall meeting about the issue in the near future.
According to Wyner, UCSB is not the first campus to undertake such measures, and is following in the footsteps of UC Los Angeles, which was the first to scheme of a way to extract extra UCOP dollars.