Campus budget issue prompts concern from EECS faculty, students over enrollment

Timothy Dawson/Staff

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Waitlisted students face uncertainty about getting into necessary classes every semester, but this year, professors in the department of electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, worry that hundreds of students will not find seats.

In an email to interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ on Tuesday, Satish Rao, an EECS professor, expressed concern that many students will not be able to enroll in classes because of campus budget issues. Despite a 20 percent increase in expenditures for instruction in 2015, Rao claimed that cuts to the campus Temporary Academic Support, or TAS, budget will prevent students from accessing their classes.

The TAS budget includes funding for instructional support — which decreased this year by about 33 percent — such as graduate and undergraduate student instructors to teach class sections. According to Rao, even a small budget increase would allow the department to accommodate more students by hiring additional undergraduate student instructors.

“Faculty are really, really appalled,” Rao said. “They really want to teach these students and are being denied over really small sums of money.”

Student interest in computer science has increased over the past five years, according to EECS professor Christos Papadimitriou, resulting in high demand for classes. Papadimitriou said the department has responded by finding new techniques to effectively teach larger class sizes.

“We have been able to develop ways to teach so many students,” Papadimitriou said. “What is stopping us is (the lack of) TAS money.”

Campus junior and EECS major Alex Beraut said the department is “spread way too thin” and lacks an adequate number of professors, classrooms and resources to offer a high-quality education.

“The caliber of the education that we’re getting is only based on us teaching ourselves rather than us being taught,” Beraut said.

Beraut added, however, that while being waitlisted for a class can be stressful, a student who cannot enroll in a particular class could still graduate on time. She said many students may have to switch their focus within the EECS major but can still earn their degree within four years.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that issues with waitlisted EECS classes are complicated, adding that enrollment problems that sometimes arise at the beginning of the academic year are ultimately resolved. He said, however, that the campus will look into the situation.

“We haven’t even substantiated the fact that there are a significant number of EECS students who can’t get seats,” Mogulof said. He added in an email that Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ wrote an email in response to Rao saying that the financial documents he appeared to be relying on did not paint a “full or adequate picture” of university finance and funding practices.

In addition, in her response to Rao’s email, Christ promised to provide more detailed information about the allocation of TAS funding within a few days but implied that available funds for this semester have been already been allocated.

“As I said to you in our very first email exchange, unlike Rumpelstiltskin, none of us can make gold from straw,” Christ said in her response email.

Contact Patricia Serpa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @pserpa_dc.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article stated that campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said waitlisted-class issues are not as severe as some argue. In fact, he said the waitlisting is a complicated issue.

The same article also stated Mogulof said in an email that electrical engineering and computer sciences professor Satish Rao lacked a full picture of UC finance and funding practices. In fact, Mogulof said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ had written in an email that the financial documents Rao appeared to be relying on did not paint the full picture.