Four-year proposal approved

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Board of Regents voted yesterday to establish “true four-year degrees” in Arizona universities.

The regents unanimously approved a motion that by December 1996, all degrees at the state universities can require no more than 120 units for graduation unless approved by the board. The board will also establish a policy to advertise certain degrees with higher unit requirements as five-year degrees.

The 120-unit decision, proposed by Regent John Munger, was based on a student’s ability to graduate in four years after taking 15 units per semester.

“Departments have permitted credit creep over the years, and we have made it impossible for students to graduate in four years,” Munger said.

University of Arizona President Manuel Pacheco said the change will affect all UA degrees, and the board should consider “just because 120 units used to be a standard some years ago, there have been changes in information and what skills should be taught in a degree” that may warrant additional units.

Currently, all UA programs

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require between 125 and 166 units for graduation.

No regents spoke against the proposal, and several said the idea was “long overdue.”

“If we expect students to graduate in four years, we have to make a commitment to allowing them to do that, and 15 units is about as much as we can expect students to take in a semester,” Regent Andy Hurwitz said.

The regents postponed voting on two related measures that would require resident students to pay non-resident tuition if they exceed 160 units and would charge students $20 per unit for dropping more than 10 units during their college career.

A committee will be established to study these issues and the regents will vote in May.

“There is a point when career students use up the state’s ability to educate other people,” said Munger, who made the proposals.

However, several people expressed concerns that the 160-unit limit would hurt transfer students and students who are undecided about their major or who double major.

Pacheco said more than half of the 215 students who graduated last year with more than 160 units had changed their college or major. Also, 25 percent of the students had multiple majors.

“This leaves only 21 percent of the 215 students, or about 45 students, who have no obvious reason for acquiring more than 160 units,” he said. “There is a possibility that by establishing limits, we will be hurting legitimate students.”

Northern Arizona University President Clara Lovett said that 77 percent of NAU students who exceeded the limit had transferred from community colleges.

Munger said his proposal would also improve the quality of advising at the universities and the process of transferring credits from community colleges to help alleviate these problems.

Regent Judy Gignac said she worries that the limit would hurt older students who take a few courses each year and then decide to seek a degree after already acquiring many units in various areas that would not relate to their degree.

Kim Demarachi, an Arizona State University history and Japanese junior said, “If the universities spend money, they are saying that what they are spending money on is more important than the money itself. Some students have reasonable reasons to drop classes and you shouldn’t penalize honest, hard-working students.”

Demarachi distributed letters from three ASU honors students who claimed that transfer or Advanced Placement credits earned in high school or taking additional electives to “to look as good as possible to future employers” may cause them to exceed 160 units.

Regarding his other proposal, Munger said a recent habit of students is to sign up for 18 or more units each semester with the intent of dropping one or more classes, which causes other students not to be able to enroll in the classes.

“I have three college-age children, and they all do it,” he said. “And if you talk to their friends, they all do it too. Everyone is doing it, and 20 years ago this just didn’t happen.”

However, Chris Weber, an ASU economics junior, said students often have extenuating circumstances like part-time jobs that cause them to drop classes.

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