Course Offerings Slashed

Students will continue to feel the effects of the UC budget crisis next year: Every last academic department on campus is bracing itself for a 10- to 20- percent cut in funding — and a resulting bareboned schedule of classes — for the 2010-11 academic year.

“There are going to be a lot more cuts next quarter, in terms of less classes being offered,” A.S. Campuswide Senator Bryant Pena said. “That’s why a lot of students … when they’re signing up for classes, they’re going to have an even harder time.”

A.S. Campuswide Senator Katie Hall, who sits on the UCSD Planning and Budget Committee with several administrators, predicted that each department will distribute the cuts differently. For instance, according to Hall, all non-core laboratory classes in the biology department — as well as classes with under 100 students — will be cut completely.

“Each department is structured differently,” she said last Wednesday at the student council meeting. “The result is that, when you cut from the engineering department, you cut staff, but when you cut from the biology department, you cut classes. Next year will look different for each department.”

A.S. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor said the way the cuts manifest depends on how each department balances its administration, faculty members and classes.

“It’s left up to the departments how to deal with the cuts,” he said. “A lot of them with money in administration — those divisions will be able to cut and consolidate the administrative type of positions, and not necessarily affect classes. There are other divisions that tend to add classes over adding more administration, and those are the divisions that will have to cut classes.”

UCSD spokesperson Christine Clark said the total number of classes cut for Fall Quarter 2010 cannot yet be determined.

“It is too soon to tell how many classes will be cut and what impact that will have for fall, since there are many changes that will happen between now and September,” Clark said.

An e-mail sent to all biology majors in mid-March said that some courses traditionally offered multiple times throughout the year will only be taught once in 2010-11, while others will not be offered at all.

Bioengineering majors with a biotechnology concentration were notified by e-mail on May 6 that two required classes now have a time conflict, because a separate section had been cancelled. For students to stay on track within the concentration, according to the e-mail, they must now deviate from the prescribed graduation track by making course substitutions or leaving more difficult courses for quarters to come.

However, according to Associate Dean of Education Gabriele Weinhausen, the shrinking variety of biology classes will not affect graduation rates.

“We are teaching all required courses, and we are offering multiple sections of all required courses,” she said. “The ability of students to make academic progress and to graduate in four years is not affected.”

The bioengineering department is allowing students to enroll in a substitution class — one discontinued several years ago — for Fall Quarter only.

“Everyone is buckling down to prepare for what could happen,” Hall said. “The departments are being told to anticipate a 10-percent cut, but be prepared for a 20-percent cut.”

UCSD already saw major course reductions this year. A.S. Social Sciences Senator Irfan Ahmed cited a report released by the Academic Senate in January, which detailed that course availability in 2009-10 had been reduced by 3.7 percent — or about 52 classes — since the year before.

“The administration is looking at a $20 million base reduction in budget,” Ahmed said. “This could go to another $35 million, depending on the economy. And — combined with faculty retirement plans, pensions and bundle services — it could go up to $80 million.”

Ahmed said he noticed an increasing number of professors are giving one midterm per quarter instead of two, though he admitted there was no hard evidence to back his observations.

“Before, classes would have two midterms and one final,” he said. “Now what’s been happening is a one-midterm, one-final policy. You save money from paying TAs and from paying graders.”

The decrease in class offerings is coupled with an increasing student-to-faculty ratio at UCSD. In the past four years, the ratio rose from 29.39-to-1 in 2006 to 31.17-to-1 in 2010.

Readers can contact Connie Qian at [email protected].