SONGDO – Underclassmen at the University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) are experiencing significant troubles as they attempt to register for classes for the upcoming Spring 2020 semester. Underclass registration began on Wednesday, November 20th at 8:00 AM, at which time many classes were already closed, and spots were taken by upperclassmen whose registration began a day earlier, on Tuesday, November 19th, at 12:00 PM.
Most underclassmen stated similar reasons as to why they believe they are experiencing troubles, including a lack of classes offered at the UAC, low numbers of student enrollment caps, very few class sections, minimal classes that fulfill major requirements, and a lack of support from the UAC’s academic advisors.
One anonymous sophomore stated that she is unable to enroll in classes that meet her major requirements, possibly pushing her graduation date back further than she had planned. “When I went to see the academic advisors, they told me to take elective courses that I don’t need and am not even interested in,” she explained.
The same student expressed further frustration at the academic office, as she believed that they were suggesting similar, generalized courses of action to a majority of underclass students without considering their specific needs.
One student, originally from the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, stated that she had never experienced these types of issues during registration back home. She claimed that even during her freshman year, she was able to enroll in all of her desired courses due to higher enrollment caps (an average of 35 per class), numerous sections for each class, and an abundant population of professors and academic advisors.
At the UAC, students expressed concern that the Salt Lake City campus is too controlling of the UAC’s registration process, and that there is a lack of effective communication between the two campuses. They stated that the UAC must communicate its needs to the Salt Lake Campus for more diverse majors, classes, professors and advisors, and an earlier release of the following semester’s course catalog.
However, Heidi Kim, one of the UAC’s two academic advisors, claimed that all matters regarding registration at the UAC is managed independently, without involvement from the Salt Lake City campus.
“The main issue with registration,” explained Ms. Kim, “is that upperclassmen have priority, so they can register up to 19 total credit hours, hold on to them, then drop them later.” This causes underclassmen who register a full day later to be put on extensive waitlists or not be able to take certain courses at all. She stated that even though five to six more classes will be added to the curriculum by next semester, the UAC is reluctant to add classes due to a lack of guaranteed success.
Ms. Kim also addressed students’ complaints regarding small class sizes, claiming that there was an agreement between the UAC and the Salt Lake City campus to keep enrollment caps under 25 people. Ms. Kim claimed that she did not know the reason for this agreement, but reiterated that the UAC registration process is, “not something the Salt Lake Campus is involved in.”
Ms. Kim was unavailable to comment regarding the possibility of adding new majors to the UAC curriculum, or of hiring additional professors.
The University of Utah Asia Campus was established in 2014, and is steadily growing in size and academic breadth. In the Spring of 2019, the UAC welcomed Civil Engineering as its newest major, among the preexisting majors: Communication, Psychology, Film and Media Arts, and Urban Ecology.
The UAC has seen a number of crucial developments over the last year, including the acceptance of its biggest freshman class of 120 students this past spring. While the school continues to grow in size, however, it has been unable to provide adequate academic support to its students due to its limited amount of resources and personnel.
The UAC will undergo a change in leadership in the Spring of 2020, with the departure of its current Chair Administrative Officer, Todd Kent. Kent’s departure marks the third time the UAC has replaced its CAO within the past five years.
“I need my major requirements in order to graduate, and I don’t want to spend more money on school if my graduation gets pushed back,” said one student who is currently enrolled to take only three of her required minimum 12 credit hours. Many other underclass students are facing the same problems, but are forced to wait aimlessly for upperclassmen to drop courses, or for the academic office to help them in some way.
The academic office, however, states that they are, “doing their best” and that there is currently, “nothing [they] can do” to further aid underclassmen who are facing issues with registration.