For students who sign up for a course that doesn’t meet enrollment requirements, a last-minute notification that the class has been cancelled can alter their semester plans.
Since the semester is in its third week, students who wish to enroll in a course will now be required to have the approval of an instructor to sign up for a class.
One reason some students’ schedules can change weeks into the semester is because they may not receive notification a course has been cancelled until after the semester has begun.
According to Provost John Nicklow, the university follows what is referred to as the “5-10-15 rule” in order to determine whether a class has met its minimum requirement for enrollment. For a 100- or 200-level course, a class size at minimum should be 15 students, while a 300- or 400-level course should have at least 10 students, and a 500-level course should have at least five students.
Gayla Stoner, director of the office of distance education and off-campus programs, said online courses have been affected by the requirement this semester, and some students were notified after the semester had begun that their course was cancelled. The courses have the same requirements for enrollment as a campus course, she said.
Although the distance education office is not where a student would receive advisement for their specific program, Stoner said her office works with students to offer an alternate class.
According to Stoner, departments were able to notify students of a course cancellation. In some cases, instructors email the students enrolled in their cancelled class.
For Jamie Barbre, a junior from Fairfield studying art education, a notification during the first week of classes affected both her school and work schedule. She said she was enrolled in a class required for her major but learned it was cancelled shortly before the first class session.
“The class was still on my schedule, but it didn’t have a room number anymore,” she said. “So I checked my email, and the teacher had emailed me.”
Barbre said she had to deal with changes to her financial aid payment because of changes in her schedule, which included adding credit hours and enrolling in a night class to accommodate her program requirements. Because of her change in work schedule, she said, she has already had problems making time to do homework for her studio art classes.
“I pay for school all by myself,” she said. “It’s inconvenient for me because I’m really busy.”
Nicklow said the rule for minimum enrollment was made in 1965 to promote the general welfare of the faculty and to better use their time.
“I grant exceptions if warranted,” he said. “There are circumstances, such as a course that is required for graduation but may not be offered any time soon, that would warrant exception.”
Nicklow said instructors often make a case for exception through the chairs or deans of their departments. From that point, he said, the college and its advisers are typically given the task of working with students who have had courses cancelled.
“The emphasis is on the student trying to find an alternate course that will similarly meet curricular requirements,” he said.
Once a course is on the schedule, failure to meet enrollment minimum is typically the only reason it would be cancelled, Nicklow said, except for in the case of an emergency with the instructor.
For Alex Foeller, a junior studying accounting, the late cancellation of a course he took at another college has impacted his schedule at SIU.
An online class that went toward his major requirements at SIU was cancelled during its first week. He said he was notified of the course cancellation from the instructor during the first week of school.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” Foeller said. “Most of what made me upset is that teachers are always telling us to be on time and be professionals, but this shows a lack of professionalism on their part. I have to plan to graduate around this course because one professor didn’t think that it was worth it to teach three students instead of 10.”
The number of courses dropped this spring due to low enrollment numbers was not available through the university scheduling office.