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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC to introduce credit-based registration model for spring 2021

A new registration system for spring 2021 will be based on the number of credits students have earned.

The University registrar will release a new registration system for spring 2021, based on the number of credits students have earned. The new model was originally planned for fall 2020 registration, but faculty and students raised concerns over inequity and logistics.

Students are randomly assigned to registration blocks every 15 minutes in the current model. The block the student was assigned to was based on terms in residence, which was a point of frustration for transfer students who had previous credits but had later registration blocks.

The new registration blocks will be three hours long now, with 800 students in each one. In the first wave, students will be able to register for 12 credit hours, and in the second wave will be able to register for up to 18 and waitlist up to four. 

The registration block will also be assigned based on earned credit hours, not terms in residence. 

“We want to build some transparency and clarity on how appointments are assigned,” Mieke Lynch, transformation manager on the Operational Excellence team, said. 

But a UNC faculty member, who The Daily Tar Heel granted anonymity to discuss information that had not been publicly released, raised concerns over inequity that would last throughout college due to the earned credit hour model. In the initial meeting where the registration model was presented, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit was mentioned as a source of earned credit hours.

“Incoming first-years who come from high schools with large AP programs will maintain advantage through the entire registration process over the course of four years,” the member said.

The faculty member said they were shocked at how rushed the process was, and that students and faculty weren’t involved until the very end. At the time, the registration process was expected to roll out for fall 2020 registration. 

“They were moving pretty hastily without getting a whole lot of feedback,” the member said.

In a later interview with Lynch and Lauren DiGrazia, assistant provost and University registrar, they said the new registration model would be pushed back and implemented for spring 2021 registration.

Lynch and DiGrazia said they were open to feedback in focus groups, ranging from students to directors of undergraduate studies. They said the model was well received and questions that came up were to clarify parts of the plan. 

But they received feedback on the equity issue, which they said they will take back to the design team. The design team consists of the registrar, deans and an assistant provost, among others. 

“Once we talked to all the focus groups, we determined we didn’t want to rush this and wanted to take everyone’s opinion,” Lynch said.

But the faculty member said the presentation was not a proper focus group. They said it was a rushed presentation with little time for questions and no time for discussion. The inequity problem was one that briefly came to their awareness in the middle of the meeting, so there was no time to properly discuss it. 

“I haven’t heard anything since,” the member said. 

The member said faculty do not have faith in the registrar’s ability to fix registration problems. They said registration appointments that conflict with student schedules is disruptive in the classroom, and three-hour blocks will not help the situation, as students will still feel pressured to register right when their appointments open. 

“The frustrating part of this is many faculty I have spoken to have written directly to the registrar about registration problems over the past few years and none of those faculty were consulted or involved in the process,” the member said. 

The Student Government Academic Affairs Committee first heard of changes to the registration process on Nov. 4, when the registrar reached out to them with questions on what they would like to see. The plan was presented to them on Feb.19. 

Sam Johnson, co-chairperson of the committee, felt its concerns were addressed in the new plan, especially regarding equity toward transfer students. Johnson found AP/IB credit counting toward total credit earned in a pamphlet, which the registrar said they were looking to remove. 

“Not everyone went to a high school in Charlotte,” Ashley Huff, a member of the academic affairs committee said. 

“(AP/IB credit being included) would have been a non-starter for me,” Johnson said.

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The committee was not aware that the registration plan had been moved to spring 2021 at the time of the interview. Huff said she saw problems with the three-hour registration block, saying students will still jump to register at the first second.

“The new registration plan requires people to have a whole new mentality and not jump on at the very first second,” Huff said. “It’s not how our registration works at all, they can’t drop it on students and expect all registration problems to change.”

But Lynch said the registration system aims to increase transparency within the registration process.

“We want it to be a marathon, not a sprint,” Lynch said. 

Johnson said the plan needs more student involvement, echoing a sentiment by the faculty member.

“It’s a done deal pretty much , but going forward we need some more student input even if it’s from us,” Johnson said. “It’s our job, which we were in some capacity but we had no say. We weren’t able to ask other students.”