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Policy - Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses
Information on the policy regarding the discontinuation of obsolete courses.
This is a summary of the policy on Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses. Click here to view the official policy in its entirety in the UW-Madison Policy Library.
In 2009-10, the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) supported the obsolete course project, which was undertaken to remove courses from the full course catalog that had not been offered for an extended period of time. Courses that had not been taught for six or more years were identified and lists were sent to course subject owners for review and decisions about which courses should be deleted.
A total of 4,185 courses were identified that had not been taught for six or more years; 3,093 (74%) of the identified courses had not been taught for 10 or more years. Of the 4,185 courses identified, 2,435 (58%) were approved for deletion by the departments that owned the course subjects, and just 1941 (63%) of the courses that had not been taught for at least 10 years were deleted.
When this obsolete course project was completed a plan was put in place to repeat this review of obsolete courses every five years. There are several reasons to remove obsolete courses from the course catalog. It is a matter of truth in advertising so that the courses that are on the books are courses that students may expect to be taught on a regular basis. It helps advisors plan more effectively with students. And a streamlined courses array provides efficiencies in management of administrative workload.
Courses that have not been taught in eight or more years are unlikely to be integral parts of any curriculum. If a course that has not been taught in eight years were to be taught again it is very likely that an entirely new syllabus would need to be constructed and changes made to elements such as the course description, requisites, etc., to bring the course up to date with current scholarship. These revisions would require careful consideration of the kind similar to proposing a new course.
To more efficiently conduct the review of obsolete courses, a process is in place for automatically discontinuing obsolete courses. The Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) and the Office of the Registrar (RO) will collaborate to identify courses that have not been taught in eight or more years. Departments through their school or college would be notified of courses in their subject listing that are on this list and scheduled to be deleted. Departments would be given an opportunity to request an extension of up to two years if they can:
- Provide a rationale for why the course has not been taught in the past but will be in the near future,
- Explain how the course that they propose to teach aligns with the current course as described, and
- Provide a plan for including the course in their course array where it will be used regularly in a meaningful way.
Departments would have approximately six months from notification that a course had been included on the list of courses to be discontinued to schedule the course, notify the RO that the course will be scheduled in the next year, or appeal for an extension. If the course is not scheduled or an extension is not granted, the course will be discontinued in the course catalog by the Office of the Registrar.
In addition to courses that have not been offered, courses that were offered but had an enrollment of 0 over the course of the past eight years (fall, spring and summer terms included) will be also be identified. The A2 session (courses taken on a UW-Madison study abroad program) and transfer credit will be excluded as enrollment in these represent off-campus enrollment usually for course equivalency purposes.
Independent study courses (numbered x99, x98, x89, 681, 682, 691, 692) and those created specifically for study abroad equivalencies (the SAB subject and those in other subjects that have a course attribute that identifies them as an equivalency-only course) will be excluded from this review.
Historically, the obsolete course process was done via spreadsheets and Qualtrics forms. The implementation of Lumen Courses allows the obsolete course process to be folded into the course proposal form. For more information on how to approve the discontinuation of obsolete courses or to request an obsolete course waiver, refer to the Lumen Courses KB.
Official Policy Document
Approved: University Academic Planning Council, 18 June 2015 (Provost's approval memorandum)