Volume 92, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 3, 1999


Editorial Board 1998-99

Better programs by a degree?

Editorial Cartoon

Better programs by a degree?

Up until this point, the difference between a bachelor's degree and an honours degree in the faculty of arts and the department of philosophy has been an extra year of studies.

However, since last Friday's approval of four-year general degrees in these programs, the difference between bachelor's and honours may become a little blurred.

Four-year general programs may be a great new option for students who do not want to spend four strenuous years pursuing an honours degree, but if the difference between the two were so great, would Western not have adopted the programs earlier?

The increase of educational options for students are always embraced. But there are some negative implications imposed by the establishment of a four-year general degree.

As it stands, the difference between a four-year general degree and an honours degree is the former is not as focused as the latter. The next and perhaps more significant difference is the required average, as a higher average is needed to qualify for entry into the honours program.

Taking into consideration these differences, does this imply students who take the four-year general degree aren't quite smart enough to handle the big time honours program?

With incoming four-year general degrees, the achievement of three-year bachelor's degrees will also be devalued. Also, justifying the four-year degree by saying it allows students to be well educated in a variety of areas indicates a student with a bachelor's degree is just not educated enough.

The possibility of attaining a four-year degree may be attractive to many students, but if it becomes a popular standard, then students will be forced to pay an extra year's worth of tuition – a prospect made less appealing by soaring tuition rates.

Even if students don't mind the extra costs involved in obtaining the four-year degrees, they may want to consider the possibility of larger class sizes. Generally speaking, upper-year courses are smaller. However, with more students sticking around for a fourth year, class sizes are bound to increase while availability of professors after class will decrease.

Western's administration are not fond of the program's present name as a four-year general and hope to change it so as to reflect its educational importance. But really, how many other ways can you skin a cat?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999