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Harvard's Kennedy School acts to restrict cross-registration at MIT

By Earl C. Yen

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government has agreed to place severe restrictions on students wanting to take classes at MIT. It has done so in order to resolve the imbalance in the schools' cross-registration program, according to MIT Provost Francis E. Low.

The restrictions resulted from discussions between the school and the Provost's Office. A study last spring showed that substantially more Harvard than MIT graduate students had taken advantage of cross-registration over the past five years, according to Associate Planning Officer Robert K. Kaynor. The MIT Planning Office conducted that study.

Harvard graduate students registered for an average of 436 MIT classes per term from 1981 to 1983, while MIT graduate students averaged only 135 subjects there, the Registrar's Office estimated.

On the undergraduate level, cross-registration was roughly balanced. MIT students enrolled in an average of 58 Harvard classes per term, and Harvard students averaged 45 MIT subjects over the same time period.

Harvard undergraduates also averaged 60 ROTC classes per term here. Harvard has agreed to partially support the ROTC program, Low said.

The disparity occurred mainly at the Harvard Schools of Government, Public Health, Education, and Design, he continued. A large number of Harvard students from these schools had cross-enrolled at MIT. Few MIT students took classes there.

The Kennedy School had the most serious imbalance, Low said. This "corresponds to a significant tuition loss to MIT," he explained.

Kennedy School students registered for an average of 154 subjects at MIT per term from 1981 to 1983, compared to 15 subjects taken there by MIT students, according to the Registrar.

Most students in the Kennedy School who cross-register come here for classes in Urban Studies and Planning, Economics, Management, and Political Science.

Before the 1984-1985 year, the Kennedy School listed MIT classes frequently taken by Harvard students in its course catalogue. They were removed from this year's catalogue.

"We have put in place a monitoring system," Low said. The Kennedy School "is making a serious attempt to reduce the number of its students cross-registering here."

Low said the agreement was reached only with this school because of the decentralized nature of the Harvard graduate program.

"The Harvard schools are very independent, quite different from MIT," said Low.

Gary A. Hack, head of the Department of Urban Studies, said, "I think that [the agreement] is a net loss to both institutions." The schools will lose their ability to focus. "The long-term effect is that both institutions will be more spread out," he said.

"The mixing of students across the boundaries has been a good thing for both schools," he explained. For example, MIT has not offered a class in planning law because Harvard teaches one, he added.

"I would much rather have an understanding in which both schools would try to make the benefits of cross-registration more possible," he continued. "It defeats the whole purpose of cross-registration if you put [in] restraints."

Hack suggested Harvard would benefit more by opening up its resources to MIT students than by restricting its own students who want to take classes at MIT.

Many of the interesting classes at Harvard are virtually closed to MIT students, Hack said. For example, students in the Harvard Business School are divided into groups and take a series of core requirements together.

An MIT student wishing to take only one of these classes would experience great difficulty in becoming accepted as part of his group.

MIT students who cross-register at Harvard have access to one library while Harvard students taking classes here have full borrowing privileges at all libraries.

"I'd rather have some Kennedy students here and [Harvard] library cards for our students," he added.

Cross-enrollments between MIT and Wellesley College, on the other hand, have been "within reasonable bounds," according to Mary Z. Enterline, MIT manager of the MIT-Wellesley exchange program.

But the number of Wellesley students participating has generally been somewhat higher than the number of MIT students.

Wellesley has tried to compensate by teaching classes that are not offered at MIT, such as Chinese and religion, she continued.

"The MIT-Wellesley joint committee looks at [the cross-enrollment numbers] every year," Enterline said. The committee tries to facilitate cooperation between the two schools. "There's more cooperation because there are more people watching [the exchange]."