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Credit where credit’s due

Despite USF’s tightened budget, the College of Arts and Sciences has developed a plan to provide students with up to 10,000 more credit hours this summer than in recent years.

Bruce Cochrane, associate dean of graduate and undergraduate studies in CAS, said he hopes the increased number of courses available to students will bring the college back to the level it was at before budget cuts forced a drop-off in class offerings two years ago.

“We measure our productivity by the number of credit hours students take each term,” Cochrane said. “The last two summers, students have received between 45,000 and 48,000 (credit hours) in all three summer sessions combined. We hope to have that total around 55,000 this year.”

Cochrane said the additional courses would hopefully generate enough revenue to pay for themselves. By using a tool on OASIS that measures the number of students who attempt to sign up for a course and are denied, the department is able to focus on offering additional sections of classes in high demand.

“By using the counter on OASIS, we are able to look for classes for which we chronically have a shortage in sections for,” Cochrane said. “As a result, we are confident enough students will sign up to help us reach our target. Hopefully, the students who could not get into a section of the classes they wanted in the past will choose to take it over the summer.”

In order to earn a bachelor’s degree from a public university in Florida, students must take nine credit hours during the summer at one of the state’s 11 public universities. This often causes a problem, Cochrane said, as students are stuck taking courses irrelevant to their degree in order to meet the requirement.

“When students decide to meet their nine summer credit hours requirement, they want to do it in an educationally sound manner,” Cochrane said. “With a bigger selection of classes, students won’t be stuck taking classes they otherwise wouldn’t have enrolled in.” Another concern students have, according to Cochrane, is the Bright Futures Scholarship’s lack of coverage for summer classes.

“Now (students) won’t have to feel like they are throwing their money away on classes they didn’t necessarily want to take.”

The idea was initiated when some department chairs in CAS laid out a proposal for administration last semester. Cochrane said faculty availability might cause a slight but easily surmountable obstacle.

“In some fields, in particular some of the sciences, professors will need time for their own independent studies to fulfill grant requirements,” Cochrane said. “But we are confident that enough teachers will be available for (CAS) to follow through. Faculty members have come to us pointing out some of the things we can do to improve our summer courses, so the faculty is committed to making it work, as well.”

And that attitude, from both the faculty and the administration in CAS, is what will ultimately make this work, Cochrane said.

“What is most important here is that we want to offer quality, not just quantity,” he said. “This is driven entirely by students’ needs and demands, and the college’s desire to improve their learning experience here.”