As the cost of higher education rises, it is becoming increasingly important for colleges and universities to examine how well they are meeting student needs. In addition to the quality of instruction being offered, this includes the availability of courses required to fulfill student degree objectives. One of the greatest unanticipated costs facing many college students is having to pay an extra semester’s or year’s tuition because they were unable to take all of the courses required for graduation within the expected (usually four year) time frame. A primary goal of university academic scheduling processes should, therefore, be to maximize the probability that all students will receive the courses they require to meet their degree requirements in a timely manner.
It is essential for university administrators who are responsible for the creation of the schedule of classes and the assignment of students to these classes to understand the effects of their decisions on the operation of the university. They can be far reaching: from the educational opportunities created or denied students, to the budgetary bottom line of making efficient use of resources. The purpose of this article is to relate some of these effects so that the reader can better meet student needs.
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