New policy to expedite time to degree

On April 1, 2013


A new proposed policy aimed to keep the time to graduation within four years seems fairly intuitive.

“Students who have completed all the requirements for their degree will be required to graduate,” the policy proposal states.

Yet other parts of the policy may raise eyebrows.

“A lot of students will look at it and say ‘that’s mean,’” dean for undergraduate studies Bob Sullins said. “That’s not our intention.”

Sullins said the policy is intended to help students graduate on time — something USF has faced recent pressures at the state level to improve.

After USF faced a harsh line of questioning about its 34 percent four-year graduation rate and 52 percent six-year graduation rate from the Board of Governors (BOG) last year, early indications from the Legislature suggest that some of the funding provided to the State University System this year will be allocated between the 12 public universities based on performance. While the metrics have yet to be determined, graduation rates are a recurring metric that surface at BOG meetings.

While the new policy will ensure that students who meet their requirements for their degree aren’t “floundering around,” Sullins said the policy is geared to help students who may have trouble staying focussed on their degree.

Those who want to add a major will be required to do so before reaching 96 credits, and the request to add a second major will be approved provided that the student can finish his or her degree within a maximum of 10 total semesters at USF. Students who want to change their major within the first two years must be able to finish within 10 semester, and those who wish to change their majors during their seventh or eighth semester at USF “should be encouraged to stay in their current major and finish that degree program,” and should only be approved to change majors by exception only, the policy states.

Those who have completed more than 120 credits will not be able enroll in courses not required for degree completion, with exceptions to be approved on individual case by case bases.

Sullins said USF will also adopt a tracking system similar to one used at the University of Florida, which has a 67 percent four-year graduation rate and an 85 percent six-year graduation rate, to create eight-semester plans by major for first time in college students and four-semester plans for those with AAs.

The system is one which is accessible by both students and academic advisers and alert students and advisers if a student is falling off-track, either by GPA or credits. A hold is placed on an off-track student’s account until he or she meets with an academic adviser.

Sullins said while some students have issues with focus, a large population of USF students work full-time to support themselves while they’re in school.

USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said other students just need a little more prodding.

“They enjoy it so much here,” he said. “They can’t leave.”



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