Under new policy amendments, courses with low enrollment can’t be canceled after first class

In the past, classes could be canceled due to low enrollment through the fifth day of the semester, which can be challenging for students and instructors.

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein. 

Hailee Schievelbein

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein. 

Niamh Coomey

Amendments to a University of Minnesota policy will ensure that courses with a low enrollment cannot be canceled after the first day of classes, lessening the impact on students and faculty. 

The 30-day comment period for amendments to the administrative policy “Course Enrollment Limits and Course Cancellation” ended April 26, and were approved by the Faculty Senate on April 23.The original policy allows classes to be canceled up to the fifth day of the semester. Class cancellations can potentially impede graduation timing and financial aid and have a negative impact on instructors. 

Academic advisers and student services professionals have said an earlier deadline would benefit students, according to an emailed statement to the Minnesota Daily from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

“Course cancellations beyond the first day have the potential to negatively impact students who then find they cannot register in time for a suitable alternative class,” the statement reads. “This has the potential to delay progress in their major or delay timely graduation.”

Of the 35 classes canceled due to low enrollment this semester, 12 were canceled in the first week of the semester and the rest were before the semester began.

For some students, cancellations before the first week of classes can also impact their four-year graduation plan. 

Senior Alexi Slater was set to graduate last fall, with plans to move to New York and find a job after leaving the University. 

That was until one of her sign language courses, which she was taking to fulfill the College of Liberal Arts’ second language requirement, was canceled due to low enrollment last summer, pushing her timeline back. Slater said it was canceled not long before classes started.

“It’s stressful not knowing, not being certain of what you’re going to be taking especially if that depends on your graduation date,” she said. 

Slater said she wished the class could have been offered despite the small class size or that there had been an online alternative. She is now on track to graduate this spring. 

In this case, programs are supposed to aid students in finding alternative courses that still fulfill necessary requirements. Students can also consult their academic adviser. 

“Programs are instructed to work with the few students who are enrolled in classes being cancelled due to low enrollment to find alternatives: either identifying another existing course or making arrangements for independent study,” the statement from the provost’s office reads. 

CLA Senior Academic Adviser Claire Hilgeman said in an email to the Daily that it is beneficial to encourage students to register for the classes that become available when enrollment numbers are shuffled around at the beginning of a semester.

This period is called the “melt,” when students drop the extra classes in their schedule, she explained. 

“The high extra expense these low enrollment classes would cost to keep open would ultimately trickle down to students – something the U does not want to do– especially now,” she said in the email.