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Year-round schedule offers campus options

By Amy Agronis on January 11, 2002 in University

Patricia Turner, vice provost for undergraduate studies, recently met with the UC Davis News Service to address what year-round instruction would mean to the campus. UC Davis is currently exploring the possibility of offering more classes year round.

Q: What is meant by "year-round instruction" and why is it being pursued?

A: The phrase "year-round instruction" is a codeword for a proposal to alter Summer Sessions at UC campuses so that it is more like fall, winter or spring instruction. Historically, Summer Sessions has differed from "the academic year" by having lower enrollments, generally different instructors, and higher student fees (due to an absence of state funding for Summer Sessions). The proposal to alter Summer Sessions so that it more closely resembles other quarters is a response to population growth.

The Master Plan for Higher Education guarantees a place at UC for any student in the top 12.5 percent of graduating high school seniors; thus, as California’s population grows, more students must be enrolled in UC. Some state education planners think that the enrollment pressures can be met more cheaply by increasing enrollments at existing campuses, especially during the summer, than by building new campuses.

Q: When is the Davis campus expected to begin a fuller summer quarter of instruction and how much enrollment growth is planned?

A: Summer Sessions 2001, although significantly expanded, was essentially conventional, much like past summers at UC Davis. The transition to year-round instruction at UC Davis initially was scheduled to begin in summer 2002 with increased enrollment, greater involvement by the "academic year" faculty, and state funding for summer instruction. Because of projected shortfalls in the state budget, state funding for summer instruction will be delayed to summer 2003 or later, so that certain aspects of the transition will be implemented gradually over several years. But the transition will occur, and planning for it proceeds.

The question of how much enrollment growth is complicated because of the technical ways in which enrollment is measured. In summer 2001, some 6,498 students enrolled in one or more of the summer sessions, and on average each student enrolled for 6.7 units.

The product of these numbers gives the total number of student credit hours of enrollment; in summer 2001, this figure was about 15 percent of the comparable figure for fall, winter or spring quarters. State education planners expect that by 2008, summer enrollment will increase to 40 percent of fall, winter or spring enrollment.

Q: Will the new summer instruction be an expanded version of the current summer session (two 6-week instruction periods), or will it look more like a typical 10-week quarter?

A: This has not been decided yet. Each campus is free to set its own summer schedule. Other campuses that started the transition a year earlier seem to be favoring two 5- or 6-week sessions for most courses, but with provision for courses of 3 weeks, 8 weeks or 10 weeks. This also is the schedule planned at UC Davis for summer 2002.

Q: Will students be expected to attend classes year-round, or to enroll in summer and take an alternate quarter off?

A: Students will decide this for themselves. Most likely some will attend year-round in order to graduate sooner, while others will decide which quarter to take off.

Q: Will new first-year students and/or transfer students be able to attend summer quarter? Or are returning students expected to be the primary summer enrollees?

A: This, too, has not been decided yet. Probably all students will be eligible to attend but only some will be encouraged to do so. In discussions at Davis and other campuses, many cogent reasons have been suggested for encouraging new transfer students and returning students to enroll in summer but not new first-year students. There are many considerations and they are being examined further.

Q: What incentive do students and faculty have to readjust their schedules to include a summer quarter of instruction?

A: Many students already attend summer school. They do so in order to graduate sooner, or because needed classes are available, or because they prefer the summer pace, or because they are paying for 12-month leases anyway, or for a variety of reasons. Skiers may wish to enroll in summer and seek employment in winter. In summer 2002, students also will have a financial incentive. In summer, students pay a fixed fee per unit enrolled; in 2002, units above 6 in a session will be free, so "full-time" students will pay lower fees in summer than in other quarters.

For faculty, there also are a variety of possible incentives. Some faculty earn extra pay for teaching additional courses. Some faculty may enjoy teaching smaller classes in summer, or completing a course in six weeks and thereby having half the summer and a full extra quarter available for research. Faculty engaged in research in the southern hemisphere may prefer to be free in winter rather than summer.

Q: In the past, summer fees have been higher than the fees assessed for the fall, winter and spring quarters. Will they now be the same?

A: Actually, summer fees at UC Davis have never exceeded $80 per unit. The state-mandated per-unit fee for summer 2001, designed to make summer cost the same as other quarters, was $76 per unit. In 2002, the fee will remain $76 per unit (unless all fees are raised in response to the budget situation), but units beyond 6 in a session will be free. Because, thus far, Summer Sessions is not required to charge non-resident tuition, Summer Sessions is a real bargain for, among others, continuing international students, who can never become in-state residents.

Q: Will the summer course offerings be of the same quality as those offered during the traditional fall, winter and spring quarters?

A: Surveys of faculty and students at UC Davis and at other UC campuses indicate that the quality of instruction during summer equals and, in certain respects, sometimes exceeds that of fall, winter and spring. The issue is not the quality of instruction but, rather, who is instructing. Both the State Legislature and the UC Office of the President would like to see more Academic Senate faculty teaching in summer and less reliance on graduate students and Academic Federation lecturers.

The projected summer enrollment eventually will be 40 percent of fall, winter and spring, so the same number and variety of courses will never be offered in summer as in other quarters. The goal is to offer as many courses and as much variety as possible, and to provide the same quality of courses as in other quarters.

As mentioned earlier, in some cases the quality of courses may be higher in summer than in other quarters. This might occur, for example, if class sizes are smaller in summer for some courses. It also might occur in some specialty courses that can be offered off campus in summer but not in other quarters.

Q: How will the courses being taught in the summer be determined? And how will it be determined who will teach them?

A: This has not been decided yet. Most likely, decisions about courses will be made by department chairs and college deans, as in fall, winter and spring; they will make these decisions on the basis of student demand and faculty availability.

Q: During the summer, the residence halls typically are refurbished or they house conference-goers. Will there be sufficient housing for summer students?

A: This is one of the issues that still is being examined. The guiding principle is that, to the extent possible, we want to continue other summer activities on campus even as we increase undergraduate enrollment. During the academic year, only about one-quarter of UC Davis undergraduates live in the residence halls, so housing is a much larger topic than just residence halls.

Mostly first-year students live in the residence halls, so the relevance of the question of residence halls depends in part on which students attend UC Davis during the summer. Availability of housing in summer will depend in part on how the market for summer sublets evolves; for example, quarter-long leases may become more common as landlords increasingly are assured of 12-month occupancy.

Q: Will non-academic summer activities on campus (e.g., conferences, cheerleading camp, sports camps) still be held?

A: It’s not always clear which activities are academic and which are not. Academic conferences certainly contribute to the intellectual life and research vigor of the campus. Sports camps may contribute to the campus’s efforts to recruit the best students to UC Davis or to encourage underrepresented student groups to attend college.

Other summer activities on campus generate revenue that helps keep student fees low. Our goal is to maintain as many legitimate summer activities as possible. Clearly there will be some conflict between increasing enrollment and other summer activities, and not all current activities will be maintained in the future.

Q: Adding another quarter of instruction adds workload. Are there plans to add more staff?

A: Yes, of course. The details of which or how many staff have not yet been worked out, but this issue is being examined carefully. We are well aware that some staff already are overworked due to past budget cuts.

Q: Many faculty are on nine-month appointments and some staff are furloughed during the summer. Will those appointments change when the campus begins year-round instruction?

A: It is possible that some staff furloughs will be changed, but probably some will not. Nine-month faculty appointments almost certainly will not change. As in the past, faculty who teach additional courses beyond their nine-month teaching load will receive additional compensation. Probably some faculty will be able to decide which nine months are included in their appointment, although department chairs and deans also will have some say in this as well (especially with new faculty recruitments).

Q: Will the pace of the summer pick up considerably from what has typically been the case here?

A: Historically Summer Sessions has seemed in some respects to be more leisurely, but in other respects to be more frantic. Probably the leisurely aspects will become slightly less leisurely, and the frantic aspects slightly less frantic. With more students on campus, more "things" will be happening and both the city and the campus may appear more lively.

Q: Will the city of Davis benefit from having students here year-round?

A: Students are wonderful. How could the city not benefit?

Media contact(s)

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

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