Class credits at OU might change from four to three

Dean Vaglia, Staff Reporter

The idea of changing the credit number for base classes from four to three has been floating around at the provost and chair faculty level for quite a while. Back in December 2018, the Oakland University Senate voted to lower the minimum number of credits to graduate from 124 to 120, which is divisible by three.

According to interim associate provost Anne Hitt, the move from a four-credit system to a three-credit system would make OU competitive with other local universities. Hitt believes students would likely take more classes, and have more exams, but the classes would be more specialized.

There are two schools on campus that already have three-credit systems: the School of Business and the School of Health Sciences, despite the 124 credit minimum.

“[Winter 2019] is the first semester I have had mostly three-credit classes, and I have found the workload to be a lot more manageable,” Sanjay Antani, business student, said. “Exams happen just as often, but it is easier to keep up with the content.”

A concern faculty members have had is how this change would affect students already taking classes.

“Other schools that have done this,” Hitt said. “There was no problem for the students that were almost finished. There was no problem for the students that have not started. The students that are most impacted by the change actually are the ones that are in classes… because they are the ones where the courses are going to go from four to three [credits].”

Despite this issue, members of both administration and faculty have found the idea of switching appealing.

“As a faculty member of the Department of Communication,” Thomas Discenna said, “our department has a masters program that is at a competitive disadvantage with other masters programs within our area because our credit hours are at four rather than three, so I can see the advantages to switching from four to three.”

Discenna is also president of the OU American Association of University Professors chapter (OUAAUP), bringing another set of concerns to the table.

“I simply want to make sure whatever changes are being made are going to be in the best interests of the faculty as a whole,” Discenna said. “We are in no way, shape or form opposed to this. It is simply a matter of how do we do it best so everybody can end up winning.”

Ryan Fox, president of OU Student Congress, is more skeptical.

“If there is science that shows [a three-credit system] is better for students, then I would say ‘let’s do it,’” Fox said. “If that does not exist, then I would be very cautious to switching to it.”

Fox’s biggest concern is how OU, which he sees as decentralized, would implement and communicate the change. This concern comes from the recent change from a numeric to letter grading scale, a change Fox saw as poorly communicated.

Despite Fox’s concerns, Hitt said this change will not take place anytime soon. There is no set proposal for the senate, and it would still take three years after passing to go into effect.