Preserving access remains a top priority
Despite difficult budget times, WWU officials are working hard to protect academic programs as much as possible and keep budget cuts from delaying students' time to graduation, says Steve VanderStaay, WWU's vice provost for undergraduate education.
So while some classes were cut from the course schedule, more seats were added in other courses, VanderStaay says, so there will be the same number of seats available overall.
"Provost Catherine Riordan has made course access a priority," he says. For example, WWU's success at getting graduates into UW medical school has boosted interest in chemistry and biology courses – demand for chemistry classes has almost doubled. So labs will be open later and another section offered to help students stay on track to graduation.
"They're extremely expensive courses to offer, but that doesn't matter," he says. "We know that's where the demand is."
WWU is also improving the way it plans for courses; a new software system allows planners to see for the first time how many students wanted a course that they couldn't get into. In some cases, the news was sobering, with hundreds of students hoping to get into one course on the psychology of gender.
The class is already offered in as big a room as possible, VanderStaay says. But now that they know of the intense interest, university administrators are working on offering similar courses.
Still, VanderStaay knows that course selection can be a frustrating process, particularly for students who must pick their courses later during the registration process. He recommends that students have two or even three back-up plans when registering, and be willing to attend class earlier later in the day.