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Engineering course roster group behavior

Information about Engineering course roster enrollment access groups


Engineering IT and the Grainger Marketing and Communications group (MarCom) jointly maintain Active Directory (AD) security groups which contain course roster memberships. These groups are used to control access to course resources such as websites, files and materials, login access to EWS computer labs, etc.

This article explains the logic behind how these groups function, and how and when they are updated based on enrollment data from the Electronic Data Warehouse (EDW). This article is intended for consumption via faculty who may be leveraging these groups themselves to control access to their course resources.

Course group types

For each course (or course section) there are two types of groups.

Term-specific groups

  • Contain only students currently enrolled in the given course or course section for the given term (i.e semester).
  • For courses with a single (un-labeled) section, they are named like "<discipline>-<course>-stu-<term>", e.g. "cs-100-stu-fa2020".
  • For courses with multiple sections they are named like "<discipline>-<course>-<section>-stu-<term>", e.g. "cs-100-aa1-stu-fa2020".
  • Use to restrict resources which should only be accessible to students enrolled in the given term.

Overlap groups

  • Contain the members of the term-specific group for the current term.
  • May also contain the members of the term-specific group for the most-recent or next term, depending on how far into the semester it is.
  • For courses with a single (un-labeled) section, they are named like "<discipline>-<course>-stu", e.g. "cs-100-stu".
  • For courses with multiple sections they are named like "<discipline>-<course>-<section>-stu", e.g. "cs-100-aa1-stu".
  • Use for resources which may need to be accessed by former students past the end of the previous semester, or future students prior to the start of the next semester. See "Logic and timing" section below for specifics on the time frames involved.
  • Sometimes referred to as "roll-up" groups.


For the purposes of this document, there are 3 possible terms. Fall ("fa"), Spring ("sp"), and Summer ("su"). The Summer term spans the entire time between Spring and Fall, i.e. there is no differentiation between the Summer I, II, and III academic terms. Generally, term-specific course groups will only exist for the terms the courses are offered.

Logic and timing

Groups are created and updated from EDW automatically based on the following logic:

  • All groups are created 30 days prior to the first day of classes for the given term in which they are first being offered.
  • Membership of term-specific groups is synced from EDW daily, starting from their creation, until the last day of classes for the given term.
    • As such, newly-enrolled students may not show up in the Engineering groups (and thus access to course resources may not be granted) for up to 24 hours after enrollment. This also applies to students who are manually added to courses by administration.
  • Overlap groups are re-used across terms, and their membership changes as follows:
    • Members of the term-specific group for the upcoming term are included starting 7 days prior to the first day of classes. This is to allow staff to prepare, test, and make their content available to students before the semester starts.
    • Members of the term-specific group for the previous term are removed 14 days after the first day of classes. This is to allow for make-up work, late grading, and for students to retrieve any content they need from their completed semester.
  • At this time, term-specific groups and their memberships are not removed automatically. They are preserved for an un-codified period of time. However they should not be relied on for more than 1 term after the given term.

Visualization of overlap group over time

Additional groups

In addition to course roster groups, Engineering also maintains various course staff groups, which control access to content restricted to course staff and graders. These groups are maintained manually by course instructors, and must be updated each semester in order for course staff to retain access to course materials.

Please refer to our Instructor Checklist article:

Keywordsengineering course roster group logic behavior student enrollment   Doc ID123514
OwnerMatthew S.GroupEngineering IT
Shared Services
Created2023-01-20 19:33:40Updated2024-05-20 09:57:04
SitesUniversity of Illinois Engineering IT
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