At my college this semester, just a few weeks before spring final exams, the administration decided to entirely throw out the prior process for scheduling final exams (which has been in use for at least two decades, I think). Whereas scheduling, duplication, and collection of final exams was formerly centralized, basically it all immediately regressed to being each department and instructor's responsibility. Suddenly there are many (hundreds) of instructors and students with conflicts (two courses at same time in different rooms) and no defined process for solving them. Various instructors and departments are arbitrarily shifting finals to other days, times, rooms, etc. (which seems likely to cause more conflicts).
Our day class meetings are traditionally one-hour apiece, and our final exams have always been two-hour blocks. One of the people partially involved with the recent decision has claimed that these problems would be best solved by having a few days where departments with large common finals hold theirs, then followed by standard class meetings for a week in which the majority of instructors can do whatever they want; possibly extend the meeting to two hours, or split the final into two separate days, etc. The final claim is that this latter protocol is "how it’s done in almost every other college in America".
In my limited experience, it's hard to see how this proposed process (keep standard class meetings and let instructors work out final exam times on their own) is common or feasible. Is it truly how it's done in almost all U.S. colleges? If not, what is the most common protocol? Any references or evidence to support claims one way or the other?