Enrolling at USyd? You’ll Need a Degree For That

Disappearing units at the end of 2017 caused more chaos for USyd's already murky enrolment process.

When Elise Anderson realised the University’s online enrolment system had mysteriously barred her from choosing the units she needed to finish her International and Global Studies/Law degree, she called the Student Services hotline. They put her on hold for 40 minutes. “No one knew anything,” Anderson said. Eventually, she was told that the units had been discontinued: she should follow the 2018 degree handbook as “2017 doesn’t exist anymore”.

Enrolment at USyd has always been a headache. The Sydney Student website is notoriously frustrating, with its labyrinthine drop-down menus, hostile layout, and total lack of information.

But now, in 2018, it’s getting worse. There’s been a shake up of the University curriculum with the introduction of new degrees such as the ‘Bachelor of Advanced Studies,’ and programmes such as the ‘Sydney Undergraduate Experience’. As a result, many a student’s degree pathway has been skewed or their graduation delayed after a missed unit or incorrectly chosen elective.

INGS, Media and Communications and combined Law students were particularly affected when their core units disappeared from the enrolment website. There was no information about replacement units and communication from the University was described by the students as remiss.

In preparation for the new curriculum, the University organised a student focus group to test out the online enrolment process. Changes were made to Sydney Student to accommodate received feedback, but some students still struggled with the process.

Course handbooks, previously essential to understanding enrolment requirements, have been changed.  Degree progessions visual guides have vanished from the revamped university website.

“If they’re going to offer a degree, you expect to be able to enrol in it,” said Elise, “it’s meant to be a prestigious university.”

She was then told she should have received an email about the changes and a list of replacement units. But Elise says the email never came.

A University spokesperson acknowledged there were technical issues with the INGS and Media and Communications enrolment process but stressed that the issues were resolved as soon as they were alerted. They insisted that it was unrelated to the introduction to new degrees.

Students seeking to resolve the university’s technical glitch were limited to a generic student centre number and an online chat team, bypassing face-to-face contact. Student centre staff, when actually on-site during the summer break, also appeared uninformed.

It is still unclear whether affected students will have to switch degrees, complete new subjects or carry on as normal.

Students from other universities have reported a contrasting experience of enrolment. One Notre Dame Primary Education student said her enrolment process was “easy” and she felt supported by those around her to complete her degree.

Elise also commented that her brother, who studies at Macquarie University, was given ample handouts about how to enrol in his course correctly.

Elise, like hundreds of other USyd students, was clear about what she wants.

“Just let me enrol in my degree,” she said. “Somehow, that’s too much to ask.”