UCSB will begin cracking the whip on students who fail to average 15 units per quarter this academic year, as the university implements the Minimum Cumulative Progress policy.
Officials say the policy, which was passed by the Academic Senate last year and applies to everyone except current fourth-year students, will ensure that the university receives full funding from the state. In the past, due to University of California funding regulations, when students failed to take enough units to be considered “full time students,” UCSB received less instructional funds from California.
The policy was adopted last year after the Academic Senate learned that approximately 50 percent of UCSB students had failed to meet the UC’s cumulative unit standards. According to the senate, the discrepancy cost the school approximately $10 million in funding.
Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said that the MCP policy’s enactment is an especially important step for the school to make, given the state of California’s budget.
“We want to make sure we get the maximum dollars from the state for the campus as a whole,” Lucas said. “It’s been a very lean budget for the last four years, and we want to make sure we are getting our fair share of the state budget.”
Deborah Karoff, Executive Director of the Academic Senate, said that in addition to concerns about a shrinking state budget, student academic progress was also a driving factor in passing the MCP policy.
“I think it was a combination of the two, to make sure students stay on track to complete their degree and to ensure that there are still funds for the university,” Karoff said. “But, there were definitely ramifications from funding issues which influenced this decision.”
However, Sarah Payne, a second-year psychology major, said she resented the burden of the new unit requirement.
“I don’t like it,” Payne said. “It puts pressure on me to take more units than I want to take at once to keep up.”
Despite opposition to the interference, Lucas said the new program is in the interest of both the students and the university.
“We understand students’ desire to stay here as long as they can. I was even a student here once upon a time, so I understand.” Lucas said. “But, we also feel it’s the best interest for the students to progress through in a timely fashion. The best way to get the least expensive education is to finish as quickly as possible. With the number of applications rising each year, we need to accommodate our new students.”
While the new application of MCP exempts fourth-year students, Lucas said the shift will undoubtedly impact lowerclassmen who have to adapt to the new regulations.
“For our new seniors, they will not have to worry about the new policy. The biggest change is going to be for our ongoing lower-division students,” Lucas said. “There won’t be any changes for new students because they won’t know anything different. I think the biggest change will be for the students that were sophomores last year, whom haven’t had MCP before.”
Students entering as freshmen will also be effected by the policy — the MCP does not count units earned before enrolling at UCSB, such as Advanced Placement exam units, International Baccalaureate credit or enrollment in college courses while in high school, toward the 15 units per quarter average. For transfer students entering UCSB with 90 to 105 units, the first quarter at UCSB is considered to be quarter 7 for the purpose of MCP calculations.
Despite the overarching ramifications of the new policy, certain undergraduates may qualify for exemptions by petitioning on GOLD. Possible appeals include medical conditions, employment which surpasses 20 hours per week or personal circumstances such as the care of a dependent. The Dean of Education also harbors the authority to exempt students from MCP for certain periods of time if deemed necessary.