The convocation ceremony next summer will mark the first time that SFU undergraduate students are handed a degree parchment listing their major. SFU Senate announced at a recent meeting that the university will now include a student’s highest level of study on their parchment if they graduate in June 2018 or later.
“In the last couple of years we have been talking about making changes to the degree parchment for undergraduate students,” explained university registrar Rummana Khan Hemani at the meeting on November 6. “The decision has been made to include the highest level of academic studies — so typically that’s a major, but it could be a double minor.”
The parchments currently do not list the student’s level of study, but instead name the credential and the faculty in which it was achieved. The change will not come into effect until next summer and adjustments will not be made retroactively, meaning that undergraduate students who have already graduated will not be able to swap out their existing parchments.
Jo Hinchliffe responded to an inquiry about applying the changes retroactively at the senate meeting.
“I believe that it was going forward because the problem with going backward is that you would have two different parchments floating around and then people would wonder which one was the real one,” said Hinchliffe, secretary of the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Studies which had discussed the new system. “Normally when we make changes like this, we make them going forward.”
The issue is one that has been brought up numerous times by undergraduate student senate representatives over the years.
“A great number of undergraduate students described an underwhelming feeling when they realized their degree parchment did not have details about their major,” said Iman Baharmand, student senator from the faculty of science currently serving his third term on senate. “Others told us that potential employers requested documents that specified their major which yielded the parchment as purely decorative.”
The senators are elected annually to represent the interests of students in the institution that oversees academics at the university.
“The student senators were collectively excited about this announcement,” said Baharmand, who explained that this issue was first raised by a former student senator, Brady Yano, two years ago. “It was exciting to see the result of that.”
The University of British Columbia currently requires that a student’s credential — such as a bachelor of science or arts — be listed on its parchments. However, it is optional for students to also include their field of study or co-operative education programs.