The E. Claiborne Robins School of Business may no longer accept online courses from outside institutions for transfer credits.

This policy was recently voted on by the academic council, Joyce van der Laan Smith, the associate dean of undergraduate business programs, said.

“The proposed policy is, is that the Robins School of Business does not accept any online course, taken outside of the University of Richmond, for transfer credit toward the business school major, minor or concentration as well as pre-business school courses,” van der Laan Smith said. 

The issue has been a discussion for several months among the members of the academic council. The council comprises all of the department chairs in the business school as well as the dean and associate deans, van der Laan Smith said.

All of the department chairs are on board with this policy. However, it must be put to a vote by the full faculty in order to go into effect. This vote will most likely occur by the end of January, van der Laan Smith said. 

In the policy, the ability to have exceptions would be included. Any exceptions must be pre-approved by the department chair and the associate dean of the business school, van der Laan Smith said. 

These exceptions would fall into the medical or extreme category — something the student does not have an apparent choice over, the assistant dean of the business school, Laura Thompson, said. 

The primary concern was that the online courses offered at other institutions did not meet the business school’s quality standards, van der Laan Smith said.  

This decision did not come as a surprise to senior Kathleen Berkery. She realizes that the business school has a responsibility of preparing its students for the competitive workforce after graduation, she said. 

“There could have been an inkling that students might have been taking ‘easier’ B-school classes over the summer to get transferred in instead of receiving the B-school grade,” she said.

Other students, such as senior Sophia Harrison, who needed to catch up on credits, found the option to take an online summer course at another school extremely helpful. She didn’t have the time to stay over May term because of her internship and said that UR’s online summer courses had been limiting.

This new policy is not one that is unprecedented to the university. Courses for various departments as well as any general education course requirements are not allowed to be taken online, as well as any online course taken during the semester, Thompson said. 

The environment of having students in the classroom with the professor is what this university does and values, van der Laan Smith said. 

“We really believe that the learning takes place when you’re together,” she said. 

The business school will still accept courses taken in person from outside AACSB institutions upon approval. This holds consistent with its value of having students studying in a classroom. 

It will also still be accepting business school courses taken online through UR. This allows the business school to monitor the standard and choose what courses will be offered, van der Laan Smith said. 

This past summer, the business school offered only five online business courses, with just one of them being a core class, according to BannerWeb. 

If this policy does get accepted by the full faculty, Harrison said she believed that the range of online business school courses should be expanded to accommodate the students' needs. 

Junior Michael Reale is a business administration major with a concentration in finance. He had been planning on taking an online marketing class this coming summer. Many people like taking online courses through other schools because it doesn’t cost as much, he said. 

After hearing the possibility of the new policy, he is figuring out whether he should spend the money and take it online through UR or in person at a university in New York, Reale said. 

Despite these two alternative ways of fulfilling a course credit, students should remember that they are allowed to take up to 5.5 units a semester. 

“I would encourage students to maximize the amount they can take if they find that appropriate to meet their academic goals,” Thompson said.

Students are still able to add courses at the beginning of next semester, and should adjust their schedules to account for the potential of this policy change, if necessary, Thompson said.  

Contact contributor Kaori Tachibana at kaori.tachibana@richmond.edu.