Based on a decision of the former College Council made in May 2015 to correct all inefficiencies regarding the credit/contact hour misalignment, faculty have been involved in a comprehensive review of all programmes and courses. The institution has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for courses and programmes that conform with commonly accepted practices in higher education. UB is using the Carnegie Credit Hour Calculation to guide this process. This has direct implications for contact hour calculations.
Universities assign credit hour values for courses which accumulate over a student’s matriculation and go toward the degree. Students complete academic work in a number of ways: lectures, laboratory or studio sessions, practicals, independent studies, internships or apprenticeships. A credit value is assigned to each of these categories. Typically, our Academic Senate assigns three, four or five credit hours per course. These credit hours are then translated into contact hours, depending on the way that the course is delivered e.g. lectures, labs, studio sessions, internships etc.
The UB tuition structure has been based, however, on the cost of each credit hour per course and not the actual contact hours. Since 2000, the cost per credit hour has been $100 for 100 and 200 level courses; $150 per credit hour for 300 and 400 level courses and $200 per credit hour for 500 level courses. What this means is that – where for instance a 3 credit hour course has involved 4 or even 5 contact hours – the student has only paid for the credit and not the contact hours. In delivering the course, therefore, UB has absorbed the expenses associated with the contact hours delivered. This is not financially sustainable for the university.
Full implementation of the Carnegie Credit Hour system will align UB’s tuition calculation based on a model that is internationally accepted.
One lecture (taught) or seminar (discussion) credit hour represents 1 hour per week of scheduled class/seminar time and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most lecture and seminar courses are awarded 3 credit hours. Over an entire semester, this formula represents at least 45 hours of class time and 90 hours of student preparation.
One laboratory credit hour represents 2 contact hours per week of scheduled supervised laboratory work, and 2 hours of student preparation time. Most laboratory courses are awarded up to 4 credit hours.
Practical and Independent Study
One practice credit hour (supervised clinical rounds, visual or performing art studio, supervised student teaching, field work, etc.) represents 3-4 contact hours per week of supervised and/or independent practice. This calculation is similar for the Independent Study.
The credit formula for internship or apprenticeship hours is similar to that for practice credit.
A typical bachelor’s degree programme on a semester calendar requires a student to earn at least 120 credit hours. Normal, full-time registration is usually 15 credit hours per semester or 30 per academic year. This roughly translates into at least 30-40 courses (depending on the major subject and thus the proportion of types of credit hours earned). It represents at least 5,400 – and probably more – actual hours of dedicated academic work for a non-science or non-art concentration, and well over that total for graduates of programmes in the sciences, engineering, fine arts, or performing arts. Sample bills for various majors show how a student’s bill may be adjusted as a result of the alignment.