BCTF strike raises post-secondary questions

SFU students marched from Burnaby campus to University Highlands Elementary School on Sep. 12 to support BCTF members.

As the BCTF strike keeps students out of the classroom for the third week this fall, the concern now shifts to whether current high school students will encounter difficulties when applying to post-secondary institutions for the 2015 academic year.

A resolution to the dispute between BC teachers and the provincial government remains elusive. The worry is that post-secondary application timelines could be disrupted, potentially leaving BC grade 12 students at a disadvantage relative to their out-of-province peers.

Despite this, Mark Walker, registrar and executive director of student enrolment at Simon Fraser University, has made it clear that BC students will be accommodated.

“Where we are right now in the calendar, it is not really going to cause too much of a problem,” said Walker. “Our application date for next year is October 1, and students can apply whether they are in school or out of school.”

When asked whether the strike might interrupt the submission of grades, Walker responded, “It will become tricky in mid-December when self-reporting of grades would occur. Right now, because we’re in September, it is sort of a wait-and-see [situation]. But if this continues into October, every university will begin thinking about solutions. Depending on what happens, we can deal with deadlines and move things to accommodate the students.”

Dan Laitsch, associate professor of the Faculty of Education at SFU, echoed this sentiment. When asked whether the time spent away from school would negatively impact students’ grades, he told The Peak that the time off will most likely result in a negligible impact.

“In general, I would guess you’re not going to find a particularly substantial impact on students,” said Laitsch. “These [senior] students have had 12 years of schooling; you are not going to lose all that because of a few weeks off.”

He continued, “Yes, it will create a challenge. But at the same time, once the strike is resolved, students will be back in class focused on their work, and the system will accommodate their running needs.”

In response to the question of whether the strike will affect students’ university enrolment, Laitsch said, “I think it will have a bigger impact on the university than it will on the students applying. The universities might have to adjust their timeframes for admissions and such.”

As for what students can do with their current spare time, Walker advised, “You have this time now to really research the universities that you might be interested in going to. Take the time, get on the tours and call the advisors. Tell them you want to talk about your careers, and about programs.”

Similarly, he advised parents to keep their children focused on next year. “Really, there is nothing [the parents] can do about this situation. They can go out and voice their support. But if they are really thinking about their children’s next year, they will start planning right now.”