Budget cuts affect class registration

For both underclassmen packed in a lecture hall and upperclassmen who couldn’t even get their feet in the door, students probably felt the effects of budget cuts during class registration.

For senior economics majors, some upper-level courses needed for graduation closed before the end of the first day of registration.

Patrick Conway, chairman of the department, said restrictions on faculty hiring resulting from recent budget cuts caused a shortage of course seats in his department.

This year, UNC-CH took a 5.5-percent cut of $28 million in state funding.

Economics administrators asked affected students to complete a form stating which course they needed and assured students they would do what they could to place them in required classes — but reminded them that funding for course offerings is out of their control. As of Monday, 33 forms had been filed.

Conway said the department has maintained the same number of course offerings as in past years but that the number of economics majors has increased to more than 1,000 students, causing congestion in registering for upper-level courses.

Junior Dave Gallagher said he experienced similar congestion last spring.

“I only got one and got wait-listed on like four or five,” he said. “I basically had to rework my entire schedule around the three (economics) classes I got into.”

He said he knew of students taking more than four economics courses as seniors because they weren’t able to enroll previously.

“Small class sizes coupled with the fact that a lot of kids want to take the classes make it hard to get the classes you want,” he said.

Beverly Taylor, chairwoman of the English department, said most of the cuts have affected introductory courses, making them larger than normal, rather than advanced classes.

Taylor said the department did not plan to hire additional faculty this year.

“We’ve held steady through this year but I don’t think we’ll be able to if we have the same level of funding.”

The political science department takes a similar strategy with funding — the department increases class size of introductory courses to preserve upper-level courses, said Evelyne Huber, chairwoman of the department.

“We try very hard to offer a constant number of upper-level classes because we know students need them to graduate,” she said.

Conway said budget constraints have prevented his department from hiring additional faculty to accommodate the larger number of students.

“That’s not the goal, but that’s the reality,” he said.

Without more permanent faculty, Conway said the department can’t increase the number of upper-level courses being offered.

Conway said the department has been working within its budget by hiring professors out of retirement and fixed-term professors, but permanent professors are preferred for upper-level courses.

“We’re not going to put just anybody in the classroom,” he said. “We owe it to (the students) to get excellent faculty.”


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