Have you every struggled to explain why AU’s “first year” courses have 200 numbers and both “second” and “third year” courses have 300 numbers? If so, this will hopefully change in two years. By September 1, 2008, “first year” courses will be designated as 1000 level courses, “second year” as 2000, “third year” as 3000, and “fourth year” as 4000.

When AU was established in 1970, 3-year programs were common and universities in Alberta used 200 numbers for first year courses, 300 for second, and 400 for third (previously 100 was also used, but major improvements in the high school curriculum removed these designations). Today, as 4-year programs predominate and most Canadian university use the digits 1, 2, 3 and 4 to designate the respective years of study, students find it harder to understand AU’s system – especially when transferring to and from other schools.

In 2005, the 1234 Committee was established to review AU’s course numbering system, and recently several recommendations have been approved in principle by the first round of academic boards. In addition to moving to the 1,2,3,4 system, the committee recommends moving to a 4-digit system so that junior courses will be in the 1000-2999 range, and senior courses in the 3000-4999 range. It is believed that this change will ensure that students understand that a change has occurred, and will also provide enough flexibility to ensure no further changes are required for many years. The addition of an extra digit also ensures that the old course numbers will be preserved: thus, FNCE 371 will become either FNCE 2371 or FNCE 3371.

Changing the AU course numbering system is a mammoth undertaking involving every university department, as most electronic systems – from tutor assignment to program requirements – are keyed to course numbers. The committee is committed to ensuring that all students are prepared for the change, and that the changes are communicated clearly as they take place.

Watch The Voice for further details as this project develops.