EDMONTON- The University of Alberta will be suspending admissions to 20 Arts programs, due to the institution’s budgetary situation.
In a letter to department chairs Friday, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts also cited the need for good management of the school’s undergraduate programs as a reason behind the decision.
“Although this was triggered by the budget concern, it’s also something that we really should be doing on a regular basis. It’s really important to make sure that our programs are actually meeting the needs of our students and when they are attracting very few students, we really do need to examine them,” Lesley Cormack said over the phone Sunday afternoon.
Cormack says the programs that will be cut were chosen because they have had 10 or fewer students enrolled as majors in each of the eight Fall terms from 2005 to 2012.
“We did this on the basis of long-term enrollments, not on some immediate change.”
Concerns of cuts at the U of A have been top of mind for many faculties since the provincial budget was tabled in the Spring.
Cormack says the loss of these 20 programs is the beginning of more tough decisions to come.
“The University has called for a volunteer severance program. And the implication of that is that we will have fewer faculty members when that is finished, that they will not be replaced,” she explained. “Through the voluntary severance, with the cuts the next year, I anticipate that the Faculty of Arts will lose between 19 and 38 faculty members who each teach four courses.”
The president of the Students’ Union says he was shocked to hear about the cuts.
“I think students, overall, are frustrated and fearful of what’s happening. Frustrated in the sense that we’re going to see larger classroom sizes,” Petros Kusmu explained. “We’re not going to be able to enroll in programs that we once could have enrolled in and we’re going to end up paying more for less for our education.
“On top of that, there’s discussions of having additional lab fees, of International students’ tuition actually not being frozen,” Kusmu added. “I think when you look at the greater context of things, that’s what’s worrisome, right? So you can’t simply look at it in a slice. I think the bigger picture is rather concerning.”
Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, Thomas Lukaszuk, defends the University’s decision.
“Are these programs still relevant? Are they of any interest to our students?” Lukaszuk said Sunday. “I think those are very good questions to ask yourself… And if the answer is no, then you have to eliminate those programs.
“If there are programs that simply are deemed not to be of interest, not to be relevant, to be no longer relevant to the world outside of the University, that students no longer want to take, by all means, that’s the right thing.”
While NDP MLA Rachel Notley says she’s not surprised by the decision, she says she is very disappointed.
“We are the wealthiest province in the country and it is absolutely ridiculous that we need to undercut our post secondary education system by rejecting diversity, and that’s the logical extension of the minister’s argument. It’s silly,” Notley argued.
Cormack estimates about 50 students will be affected by the cuts, although she says these students will be able to get the education they want by joining other programs.
“This does not necessarily carry with it any change to the number of faculty members or the number of students. It’s just putting students into a smaller number of majors.”
Students who are already enrolled in suspended programs will be allowed to finish, she added.
Department heads against the recommended suspensions are asked to send their arguments, in writing, to Cormack by September 3rd.
A full list of the affected programs has been posted below:
Classic Language- Maj
Combined Classics/Greek/Latin- Maj
Combined French and Italian- Maj
Combined German and Scandinavian- Maj
Combined Italian and Spanish- Maj
Italian Studies- Maj
Latin American Studies- Maj
Middle Eastern and African Studies- Maj
Russian Language and Literature- Maj
Combined Russian and Ukranian- Maj
Scandinavian Language and Literature- Maj
Ukranian Folklore- Maj
Ukranian Language and Literature- Maj
Computing Science Rte- Maj
Printmaking Rte- Maj
Music History- Conc
BMus School Music- Conc
Composition & Theory- Conc
World Music- Conc
Technical Theatre- Maj