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Policy on Discontinuation of Obsolete Courses
A. Background and Rationale
In 2009-2010, the University Academic Planning Council 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 4185 courses were identified that had not been taught for six or more years; 3093 (74%) of the identified courses had not been taught for 10 or more years. Of the 4185 courses identified, 2435 (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 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.
• 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 has 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.
C. Course Activity Maintenance Procedure
An annual review of course offering activity will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. The procedural steps of this review will be as follows:
1. RO will produce a report identifying all courses that have not been taught in at least eight years.
2. A list of courses will be sent to the school/college curriculum coordinators.
3. A memo will be sent to school/college curriculum coordinators, with encouragement to notify their curriculum committees, and informing them of the following:
a. The UAPC approved policy to discontinue obsolete courses;
b. That they have courses that are scheduled to be discontinued;
c. The process to notify the RO that a course has been or will be scheduled;
d. The process to appeal for an extension;
e. The deadline by which response is required if they intend to offer the course in the next calendar year.
4. If no response is received regarding the specified courses by the deadline, RO will discontinue the courses on the list and update the degree audit system accordingly.
5. If a notification is received that a course will be offered within the next calendar year, RO will flag that course and track whether or not the course is indeed scheduled during that year. If it is not, th course will automatically be discontinued during the next annual review cycle.
The review cycle will be initiated in April each year when the RO will generate lists and communications regarding courses subject to discontinuation. The notification to department chairs and school/college curriculum coordinators will occur in early April. Parties will have until November 1 to notify RO of specific courses intended to be offered in the next calendar year or complete the appeal process for an extension.
The appeal process will be handled using a workflow process similar to the course approval process. Subject owners may complete an appeal form requesting an extension of up to two years. The appeal must be approved by their school/college curriculum committee and the University Curriculum Committee. Requests for extensions must be initiated and completely approved within the six month review window. If the appeal is successful they have an additional two years to offer the course during which the course will be exempt from the annual obsolete course review. If the course is not offered in this two year period it will automatically be discontinued.
Process starting Spring 2019
1. RO identifies courses with no enrollment in past 8 years (starting with the current spring term)
2. RO kicks off a Lumen Courses Deactivation proposal for each of the courses identified. Those in the Subject Approver role (as well as any crosslisted subject partners) will receive the standard Lumen Course proposal email notifying them that there is a proposal for their review. The list of courses slated for deactivation is also available using the Quick Search
"Obsolete Courses" in Lumen Courses
3. Department decides whether the course should be deactivated or retained.
Course can be deactivated:
- If the course can be deactivated, please approve the deactivation proposal. All proposals not approved that do not have an approved waiver request will be administratively approved and deactivated.
Interest in retaining the course:
- A waiver is not needed if the course will be scheduled with enrollment in summer 2019 (SIS term 1196), fall 2019 (SIS term 1202) or spring 2020 (SIS term 1204).
- If the course will be scheduled in summer 2020 (SIS term 1206), fall 2020 (SIS term 1212), or spring 2021 (SIS term 1214) a waiver is needed. To request that a waiver be kicked off email email@example.com
with the course subject and number. The waiver process utilizes the Lumen Courses edit proposal form. A list of courses that have started the waiver process is available using the Quick Search
"Obsolete Course Waiver" in Lumen Courses
4. November 1 -
Deadline for school/college curriculum committee to submit approved waiver requests for UCC consideration.
Deadline to prevent inactivation by scheduling a course for spring term (SIS term 1204).
5. Decisions made about waiver requests on or about November 15
- University Curriculum Committee reviews waivers
- RO processes inactivation of identified courses:
- Not taught in summer or current fall term (SIS terms 1196, 1202)
- Not scheduled for upcoming spring term (SIS term 1204)
6. RO inactivates courses scheduled for spring 2020 (SIS term 1204) that did not have enrollment on February 1.
Thinking of requesting a waiver?
If a waiver is approved the course remains active for two more years. During this period the course must be taught (with enrollment) at least once. If it is not taught it will be discontinued.
1. Initiate the waiver.
2. Complete the Obsolete Course Waiver.
The waiver is our Lumen online course change proposal, with a few more questions. You must provide learning outcomes, updated requisites, and a syllabus that meets current campus syllabus requirements
You must answer the questions we added to “Explain the rationale for the changes. Do the changes impact the purpose of the course or the degree and/or major requirement(s) it currently fulfills?":
A. Provide a rationale for why the course has not been taught in the past but will be in the near future.
B. Who will teach the course?
C. Provide a plan for including the course in their course array where it will be used regularly in a meaningful way. Which programs will use the course? How often will it be taught in the future?
D. Explain the rationale for the changes. Do the changes impact the purpose of the course or the degree and/or major requirement(s) it currently fulfills?
3. Submit the Obsolete Waiver Form to workflow.
The obsolete course waiver follows the regular governance workflow process (it must be approved by your department, and any cross-listed departments and schools/colleges).
Your waiver must reach the University Curriculum Committee (UCC Approver step) by November 1, 2019