Senate temporarily discontinues certificate in liberal arts

Simon Fraser University senators unanimously voted to suspend admission to the certificate in liberal arts program, starting summer 2019.

The certificate in liberal arts program is currently offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and students from any faculty can get this designation upon successful completion of 10 courses (30 units) from a specific list of defined courses.

According to a senate report, the certificate began to be offered in 1993, with as many as 332 students graduating with it in 2005, but from 2008 and onwards, there has been a steady decline in its enrolment rates.

“This is one of the few certificate programs that has really significant [enrolment] . . . The documentation says that there has been a great drop, but even with the drop level, it’s still quite a higher uptake than many of the other certificates,” commented senator Daniel Leznoff.

Catherine Murray, associate dean undergraduate academic programs and enrolment management of FASS, said that FASS is halting the program because the faculty wants to conduct an in-depth review of how the certificate needs to be adjusted to better accommodate the student demand.

“We’re planning to revive this [certificate] and the discussions to do so . . . will be underway in February,” said Murray.

Senate approves new high school admission requirements for fall 2020

Starting in fall 2020, high school students will be able to use the course Life Sciences 11 (formerly Biology 11) to meet the science 11 requirement for numerous faculties at SFU. This includes Arts and Social Sciences, Beedie, Education, Health Sciences, Communication, Arts and Technology, and the BA and BEnv programs in Environment.

However, for the Faculties of Science, Applied Sciences, and the BSc in Environment, the only required course(s) will be physics 11, chemistry 11, or the combination of both, depending on the particular program that the students apply to, according to Rummana Khan Hemani, registrar of SFU.

Khan Hemani noted that these decisions were made at the faculty level. The faculties determined which courses they deemed as the most relevant prerequisites for their programs, she explained.

According to the senate report, there are a great number of new courses that high school students can now use to apply to SFU, many of which were not counted for previous academic years. Leznoff asked: “There’s a huge number of new courses that didn’t exist before . . . Have they been vetted?”

Khan Hemani explained that all of these new courses have been assessed by the appropriate department, school, or faculty, depending on the course, and in some cases, the courses have just changed in name. Khan Hemani also noted that despite the inclusion of these new courses, there are still a lot of courses that are not used for admission.

Senator Colin Percival also commented that when a new curriculum is developed, the grading tends to be far more diverse compared to courses that have been offered throughout the entire province for many years.

“I’m wondering if the university has any idea on how to deal with the [ . . . ] much greater grading differences we see between schools than we might see in the past?” said Percival.

Khan Hemani said that it will take the university some time, approximately two to three years, to determine how to deal with the potential grading differences that might exist between high schools. The university will be looking for any potential trends, differences in terms of grading across schools, and how students perform when they enrol at SFU, she explained. However, Khan Hemani noted that it is still too early in the process to be able to answer this definitively.