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Illustration Courtesy of Jam Moreno

Spring Course Registration Woes

With rising demand for courses and limited course availability and class sizes, how are departments on campus reorienting course offerings?

Dec 12, 2021

Starting Nov. 15, the registration of NYU Abu Dhabi students has opened for Spring 2022 courses on Albert, NYU’s student information system. While nearly 900 courses across more than 30 subjects are offered, some students are still finding it difficult to enroll in their desired courses.
Students pointed out that some programs, such as Computer Science and Theater, offer a limited number of intermediate and advanced electives. In Interactive Media and Psychology, some students are unhappy about the number of sections open for a course and the low quota of students allowed for each section. According to Albert, only one section of Introduction to Interactive Media and Introduction to Psychology is being offered in the fall.
Jennifer Zheng, Class of 2024, is one of the CS majors concerned about the shortage in course offerings. According to Zheng, if one were to follow the sample course schedule on the NYUAD website, a CS major should complete Computer Networks by the spring semester of their sophomore year.
“But I don’t think most of the sophomore students can get Computer Networks, because I think even before the registration time of the sophomore students, that course has already been waitlisted for more than ten students there.” said Zheng.
Zheng originally planned to study away at NYU Paris out of her interest. Since there are not many CS courses available at the Paris site, she wanted to do most of her major requirements in her sophomore year. However, the current situation may leave NYU New York the only study away option for her.
Some programs have been aware of this issue and are actively seeking solutions. One of the main causes is the tension between high demand from the students’ side and understaffing from the faculty side.
“The demand is tremendous; that’s really great to have so much demand of course, we just don't have enough faculty to meet that demand. It’s even greater than it’s ever been before,” said Aaron Sherwood, Program Head and Associate Arts Professor of Interactive Media.
“I think our program here is just sort of limited by the amount of faculty we have in terms of how many students can participate. You know, some students are going on their fourth semester next semester, they’re almost a junior, and they still haven't been able to get into one of our classes.” said Sherwood, when comparing the IM program with the sister program in Shanghai. “If we had the appropriate amount of faculty here, I’m sure we’ll probably bloom to be as large as the Shanghai program.”
“So one thing I would like to point out is that the institution has been hiring a lot of scholars, but a lot of arts practitioners, and as far as I understand, many of the classes that students express their needs for are art practice classes.” said Aysan Celik, Program Head of Theater.
According to Celik, the pandemic has added additional difficulties to the hiring process: “The other complication that I think needs to be recognized is COVID. So that actually disrupted our ability to hire. We couldn't hire. Institutions around the world put a freeze on hiring, right, as did ours.” Celik added. “Our affiliate faculty program is faculty that comes from other portals of NYU to build out a larger curriculum…underwent a huge change and during Covid-19, there were practically very few affiliate faculty.”
Several programs have come up with a number of remedies to resolve this problem.
The Theater program will announce two new courses opening in the coming spring semester in the Theater newsletter. Celik has started a weekly series of office hours as program head where students can come to her office hours to express concerns. A town hall meeting is also scheduled for next March for the Program to hear from students.
“There's a little bit of patience that we have to have but, you know, ultimately I feel like, yeah, we’ll get there, we’re going slow as we build and try to meet the demand of students.” said Sherwood.
A new IM faculty member is currently undergoing the hiring process according to Sherwood, which may ideally open up slots for 32 more students in IM classes.
As IM is a broad major, Sherwood shared that he often crosslists approved courses from outside of the IM program that are related to the major as an IM courses. Students can contact the Office of the Registrar and fill out a course equivalency form to see if a course can count towards their IM major requirements.
“We’ve already been, for the past years, in the process of trying to recruit and hire more faculty. Some of those searches got put on hold before the hires could be made, so those are now continuing. And with the support of the Division, we’re moving forward with that.'' said Celik.
“It’s sort of a waiting game right now, I know everybody’s very anxious as we wait. I have fairly confidence the hire will come through; we just have to wait. Everything officially happens in due time.” said Sherwood.
Yuhang Zheng is a Staff Writer. Email him at
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