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Prolonging the stay
By Ian Ross
Future students may be spending a little more time within the walls of Western.
The move towards implementing a four-year program for most degrees has taken its first baby steps in the administrative process.
A report by a subcommittee of Western's Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Admissions was released last week in support of the extra year extension onto most of the university's degree structures.
The report is currently out for consultation with Western deans and will be open for debate within a month. John Thorp, chair of the SCAPA and Western's philosophy department, said he hopes to see the report presented to the Senate by early March.
"We have background knowledge that students leaving Western with three-year degrees don't tend to be very satisfied," Thorp said, adding 70 per cent of Western students are currently graduating with only a three-year general degree. The percentage is the highest in the province.
A strong supporter of the report was University Students' Council VP-education Nick Iozzo. A member of SCAPA, Iozzo said the new policy being considered will allow students to be more flexible with their course selection and leave university more well-rounded. "It will give students the opportunity to spread out their workload more than in a three-year degree," he said.
Iozzo was quick to stress this policy would not mean the end of all three-year degrees in the immediate future.
Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic, said it is the right time to deal seriously with the education quality issue.
The proposed policy has been brought to the agenda forefront by Western administration with the restructuring of secondary school coming in line next September, Moran said. Students enrolled in Grade 8 this school year will be granted only four years of high school education.
"There has always been discussion about whether a three-year, 15-course degree is enough," Moran said. "It became more complicated with the demise of Grade 13."
John Corlett, registrar and dean of student and academic services at the University of Windsor, said the importance of Ontario universities to put this issue on their agenda is high.
"It is absolutely vital to look at this," Corlett said. "We are going to start hearing a lot more about it when Grade 9 students arrive in high school next year."
Windsor is currently looking into the issue but have yet to make any formal movement.
Adel Sedra, vice-president and provost of the University of Toronto, confirmed his university has also looked into the idea. "We will address this issue within the year," he said.