11 February 2009
How to cap an undergraduate program
My colleagues and I at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Fisheries and Wildlife major have been struggling with a problem during the past year. We've been too successful in recruiting students, and have no new faculty to spread the workload. Two years ago, we had 110 students, and last fall (2008) the major was up to 156 students.
So, how do you cap a program? Should you? If you don't, faculty may burn out and leave. If you do, the University loses much-needed revenue (and the Deans don't like you as much). If you don't, we potentially turn out more students than can be employed in the region. If you do, other programs will probably let those students in to their program.
And, how do you cap? Best scoring students? First ones to sign up?
At Polytechnic of Namibia, Nature Conservation has set a limit on the number of students that they can accept, with the major reason being that there are only so many jobs in the country. In fact, the entire university has caps on each program. The photo at the right shows how Polytechnic administers the cap. They have a minimum score for entry into each program, and when enough students sign up, up goes the simple sign. Go home, we're full...!
As of yesterday, we hit the limit during registration. Approximately 10,000 students accepted. The Registrar sent an email today to faculty, essentially saying, "I've told the students (who were not accepted) to go home, but they are still hanging around. Maybe in a few days they will realize we are full."