October 28, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 32  

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Modular degrees expected to give students more flexibility

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Starting next September, the structure of degrees offered by Western will change. On Oct. 17, Western's Senate approved the final aspects of the new structure of modular degrees.

A main issue of last week's decision was the general progression requirements for the new type of degree, explained Brian Timney, chair of the senate committee on academic policy and awards, and the dean of social science.

"[The main point of discussion] was the value of a requirement of breadth in the new modular degree," Timney said. All degrees will require students to take at least one course from each of the faculty of arts, science and one other faculty in order to graduate, he added.

"Some senators, [myself included], thought that the breadth requirement would undermine the goal of the new degree structure [which is to increase the options we have in building the degree]. I also question the benefits that come from forcing students to take a course that they aren't necessarily interested in," said Dave Vaillancourt, student-at-large representative on the Senate.

"The proposal went through and will now affect everyone in the new program," Timney said. Those entering the new program will be students starting next year and those in first year right now.

There are three things students should know about the move to the modular degree structure, Timney explained. First, the university is moving from a default three-year degree to a default four-year degree. Second, the new modules will allow students much greater flexibility, for example, allowing a student to study biology and visual arts at the same time. Third, the new structure will allow strong students who do not want to specialize in just one area to do an honours degree while studying more than one topic.

"I think that the new program structure is great for students. It will give us much more flexibility in building our degrees, since we are able to combine different areas of study in ways that haven't been possible before," Vaillancourt said, adding upper-year students who want to switch to this new program should consult academic counsellors to ensure they meet all the requirements.

"It is definitely a good thing - a lot of people want to do different things and are limited by their program. Also, young kids don't know what they want to do yet; it's a good idea to give them more choice," said Stacey Baugaard, a second-year biology student.



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