Bi-term examined closely by faculty, SGA


The bi-term proposal, which includes a controversial shift to per-credit hour billing, is under serious consideration by faculty, staff and students.

Formally announced at convocation faculty and staff convocation on August 24, the proposal puts emphasis on students taking more bi-term courses in order to graduate earlier and, ideally, save students money.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who headed up the proposal’s creation, said he’ll be looking forward to feedback at the faculty senate meeting in September.

“One of the things I hope to be doing is engaging the academic quality committee to study it further, and the feedback will come as a result of that,” Emslie said.

 President Gary Ransdell said this proposal, like any involving change, will be met with a degree of concern.

“I’ve been on a number of academic committees and a shift like this that requires significant shift in thought is received with some dubiousness,” he said.

However, Ransdell believes the proposal has enough benefits for students and faculty to consider it.

Emslie said the initial bi-term schedule idea was a mandatory calendar shift. Currently, the proposal is a recommendation for professors to consider offering more bi-term classes, he said.

“Hence the question mark at the end of the proposal’s title,” he said. “It’s a recommendation.”

Faculty regent Patricia Minter, however, sees the proposal as something much more serious.

“If it’s voluntary, we don’t need a proposal,” Minter said. “This doesn’t seem driven by academic concerns, but a bait and switch over to per-credit hour billing.”

Ransdell said while it is early to discuss the serious implications of per-credit hour billing, the transition is very possible.

“It’s a matter of time before most of higher education converts to per-credit hour billing,” he said. “I don’t know how long universities can give additional classes, essentially, for free.”

Student Government Association president Cory Dodds is working on a resolution opposing both the bi-term scheduling shift and the per-credit hour tuition billing.

In a document Dodds put together, the cost in tuition for four years of education at WKU under the bi-term plan would be $40,440, an increase of $6,552 from $33,888.

A student who graduated in three years by taking 18 hours each semester and enrolled in summer and winter courses would end up paying over $11,000 more to graduate under the bi-term plan, according to Dodds’ document.

Ransdell said the loss of an additional year in paying tuition would reduce the overall tuition payment for students, especially if they graduated in three years with the bi-term program.

“It might cost more per year, but that increase would pale in comparison to the money avoided by taking another year of classes,” Ransdell said.

Hannah Garland, SGA Academic Affair Committee Chair, said this tuition increase would hurt WKU’s appeal to students.

“There are also no other public universities in Kentucky that operate using this system, and thus, it would be harder for WKU to attract more students, especially non-traditional students and transfer students,” Garland said.

Minter said the connection between bi-term scheduling and a switch to pay per credit hour is “inappropriate at this stage of the proposal.”

“If course shopping is the real problem — which I agree with Provost Emslie on, it is a problem — is this really the best way to address the situation?”