Course registration for the spring 2020 semester reopened on Thursday, almost a month earlier than originally planned, University Registrar Mark Hewitt announced in a Nov. 6 email to Brandeis students. Course registration was initially set to reopen on Dec. 4, Hewitt explained in a Nov. 8 interview with the Justice.

Early course registration ran from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4 and gave undergraduate and International Business School students the chance to enroll in courses for the Spring 2020 term. In previous years, there was a gap of six to eight weeks between early registration closing and registration reopening. The gap gave the Registrar time to look at course demand lists and then decide whether to add seats to or sections of courses, or to cancel courses with low registration. The Registrar’s Office would also work with departments, having students on demand lists come to the office to enroll in courses. They would also “wipe out the demand lists” during the gap, requiring students to add themselves back onto the lists when registration reopened, a process students found “entirely mysterious and confusing,” Hewitt explained.

In a Nov. 11 email to the Justice, University Provost Lisa Lynch explained that “with the collective bargaining agreements for part time faculty and graduate students who work as teaching assistants we needed to notify instructors of cancellations much earlier than we had in the past.” To accommodate the agreement, Lynch said, she asked the Registrar’s Office to have regular registration begin “at least 40 days in advance of the first day of class.” Previously, regular registration opened only 10 days before the first day, Lynch explained. 

Because of this change, the gap between early registration closing and registration reopening was only three weeks this year. The Registrar’s Office realized that “it made more sense to just open registration early [and] continue to work with departments to handle the demand lists,” rather than wiping the lists entirely, Hewitt explained. Now, departments can directly provide students with consent codes or continue to work with the Registrar’s Office to get students off demand lists. Hewitt hopes this system will make things easier for students, department administrators and faculty.

Lynch echoed Hewitt’s optimism, calling it “very good news” that “there no longer needs to be a middleman” for the process of students being added to low enrollment classes or getting off demand lists, because students will not have to contact the Registrar’s Office. These changes should “make the demand list process more transparent and convenient for students and instructors,” she wrote.

Hewitt said that the Registrar’s Office has not decided whether to implement a similar schedule for Fall 2020 registration. “In the spring, when students are doing early [registration] for fall, we have the complication of the summer registration period for first-year students,” he said. His office sometimes adds or holds seats for incoming first-year students during that period, which is one of the reasons that wiping the demand lists during the gap has been necessary. Depending on how Spring 2020’s registration process goes, the University will either stick with the old schedule or switch to the new system.

“We’ve had no negative feedback from instructors or students thus far,” Lynch wrote. “I really think that this is a big improvement in the process for registering for classes.”