Expect Unit Capping

This upcoming winter quarter, all schools at UCI are implementing a new restricted class enrollment policy. Initial enrollment will be capped at 18 units, and after all enrollment windows open, the enrollment cap will be lifted to 20 units on Dec. 6.

The policy was initiated by undergraduate advisors in each of the 10 schools who saw a number of juniors and seniors overload on classes. With priority enrollment, some students signed up for five classes to fill their maximum of 20 units with the intent to drop one class later in the quarter. By the time classes were dropped, it was often too late for other students to fill those seats. In light of budget cuts, the new policy was adopted to provide better access to classes for all students.

“To have an empty seat that could have been taken up is an inefficient use of resources,” said Elizabeth Bennett, the university registrar.

Academic counselors noticed that class overloading has the greatest effect on sophomores and freshmen with later enrollment windows. According to Bennett, the policy was readily accepted by undergraduate deans and was met with virtually no resistance. The number of 18 units was chosen so students could enroll in four classes and a two-unit lab component.

Bennett commented that there was particular concern for how the unit capping would affect engineering majors, who often enroll in over 18 units, with a potential large number of petitions. It was ultimately decided that further adjustments were not currently needed.

Other UC schools, as UCLA, implement true two-pass systems, where students are given two separate enrollment windows and sign up for only eight units on the first pass.

Bennett does not believe a two-pass system is in the near future for UCI, and stated that while UCLA is a highly impacted campus that already reached its maximum size, UCI is a growth campus.

“We don’t have the same kinds of problems,” Bennet said. “I hope with enrollment tools like this and various other mechanisms we won’t come to that point. Hopefully not at all in the near future, hopefully never! We would have to be a lot more impacted to go there.”

As of the third week of fall quarter 2010, the average undergraduate student is enrolled in 14.8 units, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

As of the fifth week of instruction of fall quarter 2010, 7.2 percent of students are enrolled in 19 to 20 units, and 1.8 percent of students are enrolled in over 20 units, according to unofficial data provided by the Office of the University Registrar.

Students who wish to enroll in more than 20 units will follow the same petition process as before the policy change, providing strong justification to their respective deans.

“We are always looking to have feedback,” Bennett said. “It would be normal for undergraduate deans to revisit the policy change and see if it needs any tweaking in two quarters.”