In the wake of over two million dollars in budget reductions, UCSB cut 160 classes this quarter, leaving many students battling for a seat in campus classrooms and lecture halls.
This cut amounts to an 8 percent course reduction when compared to last year’s curriculum, and officials say more than 75 sections also hit the chopping block to offset the budget shortfall. Furthermore, campus crowding has also taken a toll on the race for units, with the student count up from 18,180 to 19,033 over the past year.
“The number of courses doesn’t even tell the whole story,” David Marshall, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, said. “There are over 75 fewer sections, putting more of a burden on the professors while, at the same time, leaving less room open for students.”
This time last year, only 3.3 percent of students were under the 12-unit threshold, but due to this quarter’s shrinking class schedule, that number has raised 0.5 percent.
Mary Nisbet, acting dean of the College of Letters and Science, said the combination of budget woes and increased enrollment is taking its toll on crashers.
“There’s no question that students have had a hard time getting into classes,” Nisbet said. “And a combination of the budget cuts and the higher number of students enrolled isn’t making it any easier.”
In an effort to minimize the effects of budget cuts for those facing graduation deadlines, the College of Letters and Science has begun allowing students to enroll in online courses from alternative institutions to obtain general education requirements.
“It’s a plan that we have implemented in the past,” Nisbet said. “But it is decided on a case-by-case basis and it’s definitely not a guaranteed method to bolster unit totals.”
Despite measures aimed at cushioning the blow of the budget, Marshall said there is still much more to be dealt with.
“We still have not weathered the worst of it,” Marshall said. “This winter will be worse than fall and this spring worse than winter.”
Sarah Bennett, a fourth-year communication major, said that the first session of her feminist studies class had more students on the wait list than were officially enrolled.
“Luckily, I was able to add the class on G.O.L.D.,” she said. “I got there with time to spare and got only floor room. There’s just not enough space to meet students’ academic interests or needs anymore.”
Despite financial issues, Marshall said the university is trying its best to cater to students.
“The departments and faculty have been heroic, using new pedagogical approaches to accommodate students,” he said.