U of T formally scrapped several specialist programs in the Faculty of Arts and Science at a meeting of the Academic Programs and Policy Committee on Tuesday. Changes will take effect in the 2010-2011 academic year, and students already enrolled in the deleted programs will not be affected.
The specialist and major programs for South Asian Studies will be cut, leaving only a minor program. University officials argue that the change will make the program more “cohesive, relevant, and useful in the work place.”
Judith Poe, a professor on the committee, questioned how the university intended to strengthen the program by cutting the specialist and majors. A spokesperson for the university replied that she didn’t know and cited insufficient demand.
In total, 31 students are currently enrolled in the specialist, major, and minor programs for South Asian Studies.
“I hope efforts will be made to re-establish those programs,” said Matthew Purser, a third-year student on the committee. “Even though it may not be such a large number of students that are going to be enrolled in specialists and majors, it’s still important for the students who are in them now, and for those who would like to have them in the future.”
The other cancellations, which passed without debate, disband joint specialist programs between departments like English, philosophy, history, and economics, which require the same number of courses as double majors.
“Certainly in all the years I’ve been involved in AP&P, this is a banner year for program deletions,” said Cheryl Regehr, vice-provost of academic programs. “But they’re not huge, substantive changes in terms of student choice.”
Regehr added that the decision did not involve discontinuing any specific courses and would not entail any additional costs, although she admitted that she did not know how much the university would save as a result.
“I don’t really feel like anybody is losing a choice, because there are other options available to them that would almost be equivalent to the ones being deleted now,” said Purser.
The committee also took the first step toward starting a kinesiology program at U of T, voting unanimously to refer the issue to the Academic Board. Professor Gretchen Kerr, associate dean in the physical education and health faculty, said that faculty surveys indicated strong student demand for a Bachelor’s program in kinesiology.
“Our sense is that if we have a Bachelor’s program, far more students would be interested in coming to U of T,” she said. “I think it would be very important in terms of recruiting students to U of T, and meeting the demand for kinesiologists in the field, for U of T to go in this direction.”