Volume 94, Issue 97

Friday, March 23, 2001


3-yr. degree revision hot topic at Senate

Literacy linked to income

London and Western communities get together at the breakfast table

Calgary wants photo IDs for panhandlers

USC promises a fruitful listening tour

McMaster measles scare prompts clinics


Is it time to opt-in to the USC?

His Royal Mintiness

3-yr. degree revision hot topic at Senate

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

After three revisions and a three year period of consultation, the Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Awards will be presenting its new structure for Western bachelor degrees for approval today.

The goal of implementing the Senate proposal will be to narrow the 'class' divide between honours and three-year degrees, broaden core programming, and bring more order to an otherwise broad structure of studies.

SCAPA chair and philosophy professor, John Thorp, said he is hoping this draft is the end of a long process of development. "I'm very pleased with the results – I hope Senate will be as well," he said.

The new system would see a setup of four possible modules of study in any discipline – honours specialization (nine or more courses), major (six to seven courses) and minor (four to five courses).

This format will make the four-year degree the typical degree at Western, Thorp said. "It is very likely that in five to 10 years, a three-year degree will be less attractive," he said. "Having said that, I am glad that SCAPA did not do away with the three-year degree altogether, because I do feel there is a place for it."

In previous drafts, the faculty of science had expressed concern with certain parts of the proposal, said Michael Owen, associate dean of science.

Still, he said the newest version should be approved in Senate.

"One of [the faculty of science's] concerns in the early going was with honours degrees and how they are more concentrated," Owen said of the specialization required in some science programs.

He also said the small revisions in the major and minor aspects of a degree will make a big difference. "These changes will bring simplicity to programs and make it easier for students to maneuver through them."

Thorp said these changes have addressed concerns such as those voiced by the science community, noting their structured format will provide more flexibility within the modules.

"Where a minor was four courses before, now it is four to five courses. Where a major was seven courses, now it is six to seven courses," he said

VP-education for the University Students' Council, Jeff Sutton, who is also a member of the Provost's Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Degrees and Programs, said he is very pleased with the current structure going to Senate today.

"You can't appease every concern, but it has created an umbrella for faculties to work under and has given students options for when they're choosing their degree," he said.

Yet, Sutton said this is only the first step and implementation would probably not happen until 2003-2004. "Right now we're in batting practice well before the first inning. But, if Senate will pass this, we can begin to play ball," he said.

Thorp said a realistic timeline would see implementation in 2004. "Until then, faculties like [philosophy] with an honours and three-year [degree] would review their program and make sure it falls within the structure put in place."

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