Registration vexing to some Extension students

by Brian Bakst

Teri Stephens was on track to graduate within the next two years. But Stephens’ graduation date, along with others in the Regents’ Scholarship program, may be delayed because of new registration restrictions for Regents’ Scholars.
The program extends free tuition to civil service employees and union-represented staff. It is one of several University scholarship programs whose recipients will have to wait a few weeks longer to register for Continuing Education and Extension classes this fall because of a new policy attempting to offset budget cuts.
Students involved in the Academic Staff Tuition Benefit, which offers discounted tuition to senior citizens, and other programs that offer reduced or no tuition payments will also have to wait longer to register for Extension classes.
The change was prompted by nearly $500,000 of cuts in next year’s Extension budget, said John Malmberg, director of Extension classes. Students who pay full tuition and are a source of revenue for Extension must be given priority or more program cuts may be necessary, he said.
Stephens, a fine arts student, said the extra weeks she and others will have to wait to register may affect when they will graduate. “They are making it near impossible to finish a degree with it,” she said.
Though she has not had any problems getting into limited enrollment classes, Stephens said, there is always a handful of people trying to get into her classes on the opening nights of instruction. She said this problem may only get worse under the new policy.
Classes with limited enrollment may be more difficult to get into, Malmberg said. But he said Regents’ Scholarship recipients near graduation should be able to enroll in the classes they need.
“If they are up against a graduation deadline, they should check with extension services prior to the opening of registration,” Malmberg said. He said counselors would make arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
Jackie Henning, assistant director of University College counseling, said students who need 45 or fewer credits for graduation might be eligible for early registration. If a student submits a written request and transcript, counselors will work to get the student in the required, limited enrollment classes, she said.
“We want to see anyone and everyone pursuing degree programs to have accessibility,” Henning said. “The aim isn’t to put roadblocks in anyone’s way.” Henning said there are very few Extension classes which close early.
As of Sept. 13, 15 of 36 studio arts classes were closed.
Stephens said she understands the move was made to relieve financial difficulties, but still feels she is being snubbed by the new policy. She said the Regents’ Scholarship program was one reason she accepted employment at the University. “It’s part of my income,” Stephens said.
Of the 35,000 students who take extension classes annually, about six percent are Regents’ Scholars, Malmberg said.
The Regents’ Scholarship Program was created in 1939, and allows University civil service employees who work at least 390 hours per quarter to take up to 10 undergraduate or six graduate credits per quarter for free.
Samuel Lewis, director of the Office of the Registrar, said he was unaware of any changes in day-school registration policy for Regents’ Scholarship recipients. Currently, employees who are also part of a degree program register as regular students when they are scheduled to register.
Employees who are not part of a degree program must wait until after all degree-seeking students register.