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Friday, December 8, 2023


Too broke for ‘business as usual’; CLASS budget issues lead to grad delays for econ students

Gerald Sastra/ The Cougar

During a recent Senate meeting, the Student Government Association was notified about longer-than-average graduation times for economics majors. 

Sen. Cody Szell, chair of the SGA Academic Affairs committee, noticed a few possible reasons why many economics majors fail to graduate within four years. These reasons span from scheduling conflicts to a lack of enticing classes for economics majors to enroll in.

“At first, I thought it might have been a lack of classes that stemmed from a lack of funding,” Szell said. “But it might not necessarily be because of a lack of classes or lack of teachers, but maybe because of how we scheduled classes and what classes students take.”

Szell  said a number of economics classes are almost empty and that many have scheduling conflicts with other courses. This issue has been a  consistent problem for the past four or five years, and has led to issues graduating on time. 

Chair of the economics department Dietrich Vollrath claims that the issue of extended graduation times for economics majors stems from budgeting issues that have affected all College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences departments. 

“The funds coming into CLASS weren’t sufficient enough to pay for business as usual,” Vollrath said. “Even business as usual probably was leaving some kids a little behind.” 

The University asked the CLASS departments to be more flexible with the resources they have, Vollrath said. This means having instructors teach extra this year or adjusting class sizes. 

“I know this is an issue for us, and it is a function of the fact that CLASS has had budget issues. Especially in the past few years,”  Vollrath said. 

Vollrath also noted that the process of the state of Texas approving funds for the University and the departments receiving the money is lengthy and, “It’s not something that is fixable immediately,” Vollrath said.

Vollrath said that despite funding issues in past years, the provost did provide some funding for CLASS departments, but not enough to help students who are behind.

The Texas Legislature decides the University’s state funding every two years. The University and the provost determine how funds will be distributed among each department. 

However, Szell and Vollrath proposed possible solutions to mitigate these issues.

“We’re gonna have a survey asking questions about the why, and then we’ll think of the how,” Szell said.

Szell said some economics professors proposed more undergraduate courses on Mondays and Wednesdays instead of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to make them more enticing to students.

Students notified Szell about this issue by learning from other students about problems they were having with graduation. 

“It’s individual anecdotes I keep hearing over and over again,” Szell said.

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