The revamping of Arizona's higher education system continued last week when the Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved a motion that all degrees can require no more than 120 units unless approved by the board. The one-two punch of this proposal with the UA's Core Curriculum Proposal threatens to severely water down the UA educational experience.
Since there have not been any definitive proposals regarding Core Curriculum, the Arizona Daily Wildcat still has not taken a stance on the issue. But with the new degree limits and any type of Core Curriculum proposal, students will be liable to shortchange themselves and fail to explore possible educational opportunities. The UA's primary mission of educating students could be lost in the Regents' zeal to churn out as many students as possible within four years.
Under the tentative Core Curriculum proposal, students will be required to take 36 units of the "university college" courses. So if a degree only requires 120 units, that leaves students with 84 units they need to take. Students will probably still be required to take six units of English and three units of math. OK, now there are 73 units left. Currently, most majors require anywhere from 26 units to 36 units and a minor requires 20 units. In worst case situations, that leaves students with 17 units to explore other disciplines. Students would be required to take less than six elective courses to graduate. The proposal does not leave a lot of room for academic exploration.
Another option would be to cut down the number of units needed for majors and minors. Would faculty members support cutting down the number of units needed for a major? Would students be as prepared for graduate schools if the major requirements were reduced? In essence, the board's proposal leaves the university with the choice of either having departments cut their major requirements or significantly cut down the number of elective credits students can take. Talk about a no-win situation.
The regents also postponed voting on proposals 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 careers. Neither proposal is acceptable.
The 160-unit limit will penalize transfer students and students who have changed their majors. At the regents meeting, President Manuel Pacheco pointed out that about 75 percent of the 215 students who graduated from the UA last year with more than 160 units had either changed their majors, changed their colleges or had multiple majors. These students will be caught in the regents' net to snare the limited number of "career students." Students need to have the flexibility to change their majors without worrying about being financially penalized. Again, the regents proposal would inhibit educational exploration rather than expand it.
The proposal to charge students $20 per unit if they dropped more than 10 units in their college career is ludicrous. Students drop classes for a variety of reasons Ä time restrictions, change in majors, etc. In some cases, students have to register for classes they do not want in order to have enough units to qualify as a full-time student and later attempt to get in the classes they do want. Of course, there are some students who drop classes because they do not like the teacher or they do not want to hurt their grade point average, but in the board's attempt to penalize them, they hurt students who must drop classes for legitimate reasons. Also, students rearrange their schedules before their semesters even begin. Are they going to be penalized for dropping a class they never attended or are students who drop after two weeks going to be the only ones penalized? Either way, this proposal is bad news for UA students.
These two proposals by the Arizona Board of Regents are as un-student-friendly as they come. Financially penalizing large groups of students in order to catch "career students" or "chronic droppers" are not solutions to the problems facing the university. Such proposals will only make students think twice about changing their majors or dropping classes despite time restrictions.
If all three of the aforementioned blanket proposals are implemented, the regents will only smother the UA educational experience.
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