When registering for spring classes, Roy Dixon, a senior computer science major, learned he would be unable to graduate in May as planned.
“I could have graduated this semester,” Dixon said. “However, one of my core courses is not being offered until Fall 2016.” When he went to the department chair, Dixon was told, “That’s how the schedule is.”
Under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and university guidelines, required courses do not have to be offered every semester; however, there are options for students who need those core classes to complete their degree.
Dr. Steven Levitt, COLFA associate dean for undergraduate studies and curriculum, said that courses have to meet certain standards in order to become available to students. For instance, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board requires a minimum enrollment of five students in graduate courses and 10 students in undergraduate courses for the class, required or otherwise, to be offered.
Levitt said, “the UTSA Provost’s Office holds colleges and departments accountable for instructional efficiency metrics.” These metrics measure the efficiency of courses with low enrollment usually undergraduate courses with fewer than 20 students enrolled and graduate courses with fewer than 10 students enrolled—and create standards based on their findings, which help determine the enrollment guidelines for courses offered in any given semester.
Required courses, under certain circumstances, can be exempted, but courses that do not meet these guidelines are generally cancelled.
Planning with an advisor is the best way to avoid a delayed graduation date caused by an unavailability of required courses. Academic advisors will generally know which courses are offered in particular semesters.”
Additionally, a “Courses Offered in the Past 3 years (by Semester)” link on ASAP shows students when and how often courses have been offered previously to help students plan.
For one semester, the combined cost of attendance for one class and housing is upward of $12,000 — a costly consequence of poor planning.
If students close to graduating find themselves in this situation, Levitt advises students to “work through their advisors, and in coordination with department chairs, and to petition for possible substitutions for required courses not being offered in semesters students need to graduate.”