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Admissions and Registration Committee

Members: Urton Anderson, Ruth Buskirk, Bruce Palka, Audrey Sorrells, Angela Valenzuela, Samuel Watkins
Faculty Council Appointees: Susan (Tasha) Beretvas, Richard Flores
Student Members: Jessica Geier, Siddharth Sinha, Stephen Torres, Eric Weiner
Administrative Advisors: Mike Allen, Bruce Walker

The Admissions and Registration Committee met during regularly scheduled meetings during the 2005-06 academic year. The committee focused its reviews and discussions on primarily four major foci: (a) office of the registrar’s assessment of implementation issues and implications, (b) course availability and the Q drop process, (c) comparative analysis of the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP), top 10%, and non-CAP transfer students, and (d) study abroad program issues and implementation. A summary of our discussions and recommendations are below.

Reaffirmation of the Recommended Committee’s Function and Composition The 2004-05 committee recommended the proposed “Function” description:
FUNCTION: To recommend to the Director of Admissions, and to the Registrar, and to the Faculty Council changes in policies regarding undergraduate admission and registration; to consult with and advise the Director of Admissions and the Registrar about procedures pertaining to their offices.
Further, the committee recommended to the Faculty Council that the student representatives be undergraduate students.

During the 2005-06, however, the committee’s composition continued to include a Graduate Student Assembly representative. In fall 2005, the graduate student graduated and subsequently was replaced by another graduate student in the spring 2006 semester. The committee reaffirmed that appropriate only are undergraduate student representatives given the function and scope of this existing body.
Recommendation: The committee continues to recommend to Faculty Council that the student representatives be undergraduate students.

Review of the Office of the Registrar’s Assessment of Implementation Issues and Implications
During the committee’s initial meeting to develop an agenda for the year, the Office of the Registrar indicated that there were several items that might be appropriate for this committee to address. Among these items was a suggestion that the committee review resolutions passed by the Faculty Council in spring 2005 as ones that required additional investigation to identify impact and merit to the University community. Among these resolutions were issues related to grades, grade point average (GPA), uses of GPA, and academic standards. The committee agreed that these were appropriate items for review, study, and discussion. Jane Shaughness was invited to present to us the registrar office’s understandings regarding implementation impact and indications. To facilitate this discussion, a memo was sent to Vice Provost Lucia Gilbert and Deputy to the President Charles Roeckle detailing the registrar office’s assessment of the implication of the in-residence GPA policy. Following are summarized current understandings of two passed resolutions.

D 3789-3790—Recommendation that the University grade point average be based on in-residence grade point average

The registrar provided a memo detailing the registrar office’s assessment of the implications of the in-residence grade point average policy. Concerns with the policy were noted to originate with students for whom English is a second-language. For example, Spanish-speaking students who have taken AP courses in Spanish might have inflated GPAs if those scores are combined with their in residence GPAs. The same students’ academic struggles upon enrollment into UT might be masked by these inflated GPAs. It was noted that UT is the only major university that has assigned grades and given credit for credit by exam and correspondence courses. 

Because this issue has been a topic for many years and has now passed the Faculty Council and Educational Policy Committee, it seems unlikely that the current committee can or should make recommendations concerning the issue of in-residence GPA. Also, the legislation is under review in the provost’s office where implementation issues as costs and consequences are being considered. Therefore, the committee agreed that the in-residence GPA is no longer an admissions concern.

D 3792-3795—Recommendation to eliminate the table of scholastic standards and to change the criteria for probation and dismissal

The associate registrar also reviewed with the committee the office’s understanding of the elimination of the table of scholastic standards and change in the criteria for probation and dismissal. During this review, a number of implementation/policy issues and questions were discussed. Among them were:
1. An assumption that the rules apply to undergraduate students and exclude students in Graduate Studies, Graduate School of Business, and the School of Law.
2. A need for clarification of the earliest possible effective date.
3. An assumption that when a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 he or she is placed on scholastic probation.
4. An assumption that if a student’s GPA falls below a 2.0 when he or she is on scholastic probation then he or she is subject to dismissal.
5. An assumption that a student who is subject to dismissal may be continued on probation by his or her dean.
6. An assumption that if the student raises his or her GPA above 2.0 when he or she on scholastic probation then he or she is removed from probation.
7. Scholastic status is based on the student’s cumulative GPA.
8. The number of students who are subject to dismissal will increase. As a consequence, research would be needed to answer these questions: Would there be an increase or decrease (and if so by how many) in the number of students who are subject to dismissal based on grades earned last fall, last spring? How much change to 3-year dismissal?
9. Assumption that the current scholastic probation and dismissal rules apply such as length: first dismissal one semester, subsequent dismissal three years and that students are not subject to dismissal based on grades earned in the summer.
10. Assumptions that deans may continue to have grade contracts with students who are continued on probation.

Based on the identification of these implementation and policy issues, the committee felt that this policy recommendation appears to be more stringent than the earlier policy. Further, the committee viewed the policy assessed and that because the policy change is under review at the provost’s office and has been passed by the Educational Policy Committee, the current committee could contribute little to its evaluation. Yet, the implementation and potential impact may be such that the need for further clarification and investigation could have important benefit to the University Community.
Recommendation: The committee requests that a task force for the 2006-07 academic year be formed to investigate relevant issues and research questions as presented in Issue 8, which called for an investigation into the impact of increase/decrease in the number of students potentially in jeopardy of dismissal under this new policy.
Review of the Q Drop Process (D 3835-3837)
The interim registrar, Mike Allen, reviewed the complexity of the proposed issue D 3835-3837 (to improve course availability for undergraduates). In turn, the committee provided recommendations to the registrar to facilitate further consideration and implementation of the Q drop process. To begin, a Q drop long sheet describing the volume of course drop activity listed in different periods, including courses dropped in the 5th–12th class day period, Auto-Qs (those by the 20th class day), those up until the middle of the semester (Q or QF) or by the end of the semester (Q or QF) was presented. The official policy indicates that no one should be awarded a Q unless there are urgent nonacademic reasons to support the student’s dropping the course after a predetermined period of time. The table showed a large volume of Qs, possibly indicating that the faculty may be loosely defining policy and adhering to policy (e.g., allowing Qs when Fs might have been more appropriate). The proposed legislation does not address class availability. Students seem to have been signing up for 18 credits and “shopping around” until they have been forced to choose their courses; they then have dropped some of the credits. This practice might be encouraged with the new flat-rate tuition. Analysis could be conducted that investigates the change in Q drops with flat rate compared to without-flat tuition. The current status reflects that there is not a financial penalty for a Q drop whereas with past practice students lost the tuition amount if they dropped the course. The committee seemed interested in further evaluation of drops and drops past deadlines. The percent of Q drops at UT is approximately 2% higher than at comparable institutions (depending on how drops are defined). It was suggested that the registrar examine what happens from mid-semester onwards and explore the grade “N” for substantiated non-academic reasons up to mid-semester. Students would have to decide by mid-semester if dropping with a Q.

One question poised was, if the N is added and the policy was for a substantiated non-academic reason, what would be the policy for students who dropped a course between the middle and end of the semester? The report showed that for the spring semester 2005, 95% of students had two or fewer Q drops and that 65% of students enrolled during that semester had no Q drops. It was suggested that the model used in the College of Natural Sciences might be a good to one to consider for use in other colleges. The College of Natural Sciences policy is that each student can register for a course twice; to enroll a third time in the same course would require that the student successfully petitioned to do so. The policy also inhibits receiving funds from a student if a course is taken more than twice (applies for anything after 12th class day).

Use of the “N” category might lead to a higher number of Q drops by mid-semester, more students finishing the course even with the resulting lower grades. This would increase the pressure in dean’s offices to handle substantial non-academic explanations.

Another question raised and to be studied is what percent of students are successfully taking 18 hours? What is the relationship between the load carried and success? Could a cap be placed on how many times students can drop from 18 credit hours down? When there was a cost factor, was there a difference? It was recommended that the registrar’s office study these questions.
Recommendation: The Admissions and Registration Committee will revisit the Q drop process and form to emphasize when the Q verses QF should be used. One option could be the faculty to identify whether a student is currently passing or not and then it would be the dean’s office to deem whether the drop qualifies as a sufficient non-academic reason. The committee will continue to review the process and provide recommendations to the registrar.
Review of the CAP Program and Comparative Performance of Transfer Students
An important function of the committee is to review the status of the CAP. In October, the committee chair requested a status report of the CAP program, including the performance of students admitted under CAP compared to non-CAP transfers. As requested, at the February meeting, the vice provost and director of admissions, Bruce Walker, reviewed in detail the third CAP report containing three cohorts of CAP students from 2001, 2002, and 2003 (Report 3 – January 11, 2005). Also co-presenting was Mike Washington, associate director of admissions and the liaison for the CAP program and all transfer students. Defined, CAP students are considered transfer students and fill spaces reserved for transfer students. While previous reports have indicated an increase in diversity over two years (CAP01 and CAP02), Report 3 showed a marked decrease in diversity. For example, CAP01 and CAP02 Hispanics were 20% entering under CAP; CAP01 and CAP02 African Americans 5%; and, CAP01 and CAP02 Asian Americans 23%. However, CAP 03 Hispanics were only 16%; CAP 03 African Americans only 4%; and CAP03 Asian Americans only 21%. Concurrently, white students entering under CAP have increased substantially: CAP01 and CAP02 were 51% while white students entering under CAP in 2003 had reached 57% of all students entering under CAP. See Table 1 below (Report 3 by the Office of Admissions, January 11, 2006) for further data on the racial/ethnic breakdown of CAP students-01, 02, 03 cohorts). It should be noted that the reverse trend in diversity among the top 10% is indicated in the report. With the exception of Asian American students (21% entering in 200l, 20% in 2002, and 19% in 2003) and White students (57% entering in 2001, 56% in 2002, and 55% in 2003), there were modest increases in enrollment of Hispanic students (17% in 2001, 18% in 2002, and 20% in 2003) and only a slight increase in African American enrollment in 2003 to 5%, up from 4% in 2001 and 2002. Thus, diversity has increased under Top 10%, but this may not be the case under CAP. Thus, it will be important to continue evaluating the impact of admissions policies of Top 10% and CAP on diversity trends at UT.

Table 1
Racial/Ethnic and Gender Breakdown of CAP Students
CAP01, CAP02, and CAP03 Cohorts

Applied Summer/Fall 2001
Applied Summer/Fall 2002
Applied Summer/Fall 2003
CAP01 Students Returning Fall 2002
CAP02 Students Returning Fall 2003
CAP03 Students Returning Fall 2004

Also discussed were CAP01, CAP02, and CAP03 performance compared to classmates admitted as entering and summer freshman. A summary of performance indicated that Top 10% students continue to earn higher GPAs than non-top 10% students and summer freshman. CAP students continue to perform reasonably well in sophomore year but do not perform as well as the top 10% group; CAP students appear to be performing comparably to or slightly higher than non-top 10% groups.

How do CAP students perform compared to non-CAP transfer students? A comparison of CAP with non-CAP transfer students’ performances after their first year of residence at UT indicated that non-CAP transfer students outperformed CAP students across the cohorts. This is not unexpected given the different criteria used for admission for the two groups. Similar information related to students’ performance in their sophomore year in the top five subjects (English 316K, Chemistry 301, Government 312L, Biology 212, and Government 310L) indicated that top 10% students outperformed non-top 10% and CAP students in each of these courses. When CAP student performance was compared to non-CAP transfer student performance, entering mean GPA was higher for non-CAP transfer students than CAP students. On selected courses, non-CAP transfer students outperformed CAP students in all subjects.

Although the Admissions and Registration Committee discussed at length these findings and plausible explanations for them, it is important that this committee continues to review the impact of CAP and top 10% on diversity and performance once at UT. Trend and impact analyses are needed to gain further insight into appropriate admissions policy and implementation.
Recommendation: The committee recommends that the Faculty Council form a task force that examine more closely these issues and possible trends of diversity to ensure that the university is meeting its mission and goals to increase the representation of diverse students on the UT Austin Campus and promote academic success and retention of these students once admitted.
Review of Study Abroad Program Issues and Policies
The Center for Global Educational Opportunities (C-GEO), Subcommittee on Grading Policies for Study Abroad Program requested that the Admissions and Registration Committee review the potential ramifications of no longer counting the grades from an exchange program into the UT Austin GPA and consistency across colleges. Based upon initial discussions with member representatives of the subcommittee, including Urton Anderson, the committee agreed that it should conduct an examination of residency, grades and the affiliation process; discussions will continue into the next academic year.
Recommendation: The committee recommends that the Faculty Council form a task force for the 2006-07 academic year to consider these and other identified and related issues of the study abroad program.

Audrey McCray Sorrells, chair

  Updated 2006 August 29
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