Custom Software Development
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Summary: Most universities today have opted for the course bidding system since it is known to be a transparent and flexible system to allocate courses to students.
Diverse mechanisms that rely on course bidding are extensively used at business schools for seat allocation at oversubscribed courses. Bids play on the student preferences and determine who has the better claim to the seats. The bidding strategy might conflict personal preferences induced from bids and may actually differ from true preferences. One can use a mechanism where students will be asked for their preferences other than the bidding process.
Allocation of course seats is one of the top priorities of the registrar’s offices at most universities. Mostly, demand exceeds supply in terms of course priorities. It is difficult to distribute seats equitably and efficiently in this regard. Course bidding strategies differ from university to university and each of them have their own set of rules. Here is the typical course bidding strategy used by most universities:
- Each student is allocated some bid credits which they can allocate across their preferred courses.
- All bids for all courses and the students are placed and processed one at a time according to the highest bid made. Every bid and is honored unless the student has not completed the schedule and the course has filled up its seats.
- With process termination, every student obtains a schedule and simultaneously a market clearing “price” is obtained for every course which refers to the lowest bid.
This is applicable in every scenario unless and until the course has empty seats; or the price is zero.
Business schools that rely on this typical university course bidding mechanism include the Columbia Business School, Princeton University, Indian Institute of Management and the Yale School of Management.
There can be serious rationing which can be done here, especially when the classes are scarce or the faculty is not substitutable. One could even ration with money which would mean that some students in the same program will have to shell out different amounts for their degree. That would mean that some would pay a flat fee and an additional course fee depending on the scarcity of that course.
There can be rationing by means of lottery. But the administration is forced to answer in these scenarios since students who did not win would obviously complain about their loss. They would argue that they would be denied the chance to take up the course through sheer luck which is unfair to them.
Here is a university course bidding method proposed by one of my friends. All students are allocated a budget of points. A small number of classes will always be oversubscribed here as many of them would bid all their points for those classes. Then they are rationed and separated by lottery. In this scenario, the number of complaints drops considerably. Now the student could not get the class because they did not bid enough so it is partly their responsibility because they did not bid enough.