Simon Fraser good grammar wanting
By Marshall Bellamy
Simon Fraser University doesn’t like illiterate students — especially
ones trying to get into their school.
According to Roger Blackman, special advisor to the dean of
arts at SFU, the university’s administration will begin
disallowing applicants’ admission if their Grade 12 English
average is lower than 60 per cent.
The move comes with a revamp of the university curriculum
to get all graduates to possess a breadth of the sciences and
humanities and fulfill an easy course requirement, Blackman
said, who also sits on the task force for revamping the curriculum. “We
want to be able to say every SFU graduate can communicate [well
in English],” he added.
He was quick to point out that students with English as a
second language will have different prerequisites, therefore,
foreign students will have to complete a language efficiency
Blackman noted that 30 per cent of SFU’s applicants
are transfer students from community colleges and will have
to achieve 70 per cent or better. “All the students we
admit, we want them to demonstrate an ability to communicate,” he
“People are always concerned [about] whether students
can write,” said Western’s vice-provost and registrar
Roma Harris. “I don’t think we’re having
any crisis, [but] it’s always an issue.”
“We’ve been very fortunate at Western — I
suppose if we were having a problem, then we’d do something,” she
There are struggles with students, especially students with
English as a second language, Harris noted, adding solutions
are available for students with problems, such as the Student
“There’s been an ongoing need to support students
in terms of their writing abilities,” noted Michael Kehler,
assistant professor of education at Western, adding many universities,
such as Western, have instructors teaching writing courses
He said a 60 per cent benchmark on English courses and literacy
tests does not completely reflect the students’ abilities,
noting there are immeasurable factors in these cases.
“We have to be careful excluding students with English
not as a second language,” Kehler added, citing there
must be support for those individuals.