Academic Programs Committee Reports
ACADEMIC PROGRAMS COMMITTEE
REQUEST FOR DECISION
PRESENTED BY: Geoff Hughes, Chair, Academic Programs Committee
DATE OF MEETING: April 15, 2004
SUBJECT: Admission calculation and average
That Council approve the proposed method for the calculation of the 70 per cent Regular Admission average for direct entry colleges based on five 30-level subjects approved by the Academic Programs Committee as described in the attached policy.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSAL:
The Regular Admission average for the direct-entry colleges listed below will be calculated based on five approved 30-level subjects, distributed across disciplines, with the minimum required average being 70 per cent. Other college admission requirements and high school prerequisites for some university classes remain the same.
The colleges of Agriculture, Arts and Science, Commerce, Education, Engineering, and Kinesiology, and the Faculty Council for Unclassified Studies have approved this proposal. College of Nursing entrance requirements are part of the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS) agreement between the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST and so are not part of this proposal, although they are also based on five subjects.
The Enrollment Plan, which was approved by Council in November, 2003, calls for the implementation of a 70 per cent admission average beginning in the 2005-06 academic year. This proposal streamlines the methodology for calculation of admission averages by using a five-subject distributed average.
COMMITTEE COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATION:
Academic Programs Committee is the Council committee primarily responsible for overseeing implementation of initiatives in the Enrolment Plan. At its March 19 meeting, APC recommended approval of the attached proposal. The Planning Committee also endorsed the proposal at its April 5 meeting.
Student Enrolment and Services Division Report on Proposed Admission Calculation for Direct Entry Colleges (March, 2004)
Excerpts from “ The University of Saskatchewan Enrolment Plan: Bridging to 2010” (November 2003).
Proposed Admission Calculation for Direct Entry Colleges
Student and Enrolment Services Division
(Laurie Pushor, Director of Admissions)
Student and Enrolment Services has been reviewing the current admission criteria for first-year admission to direct-entry colleges at the University of Saskatchewan. (For current admission requirements see pp 10-18 of the University Calendar) The number of subjects used and the method of calculating the admission average have been examined. As a result of this review, the Division is proposing a change to the admission average calculation to be implemented for the academic year beginning September 2005.
Admission for first year applicants to direct entry programs in Agriculture, Arts and Science, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Kinesiology, and Unclassified Studies will be based on three main criteria:
1. Complete Saskatchewan secondary level standing or equivalent with a minimum overall average of 70%. The change to the minimum average was approved by Council in the Enrolment Plan November 20, 2003
2. Successful completion of 30-level (or equivalent Grade 12) subject prerequisites determined by individual colleges.
a. Agriculture – Biology 30, Chemistry 30, Mathematics B30 and Mathematics C30
b. Commerce – Mathematics B30 and Mathematics C30
c. Education – Social Studies 30 or History 30 or Native Studies 30, a 30-level science, and an approved 30-level language other than English or 30 level fine arts
d. Engineering – Mathematics B30, Mathematics C30, Chemistry 30, Physics 30
e. Kinesiology – Mathematics B30 or Mathematics C30, Biology 30, and Chemistry 30 or Physics 30
Students may be admitted with a one-credit deficiency as allowed by individual colleges.
Note: There are no changes in the prerequisites in this proposal.
3. A minimum overall average of 70% calculated using the following:
a. Highest English (English A30 or EnglishB30) or equivalent
b. Highest Mathematics (Mathematics A30 or Mathematics B30 or Mathematics C30) or equivalent
c. Three highest approved 30-level subjects* (See Appendix 1) or equivalent
Rationale for Change
Currently the University of Saskatchewan uses seven subjects, including up to two 20-level (Grade 11) subjects, in a very complex admission calculation procedure. The benefits of the proposed admission average calculation include:
1. Alignment with other medical/doctoral universities in Canada: A study of medical/doctoral universities in Canada found that the University of Saskatchewan was the only institution requiring seven subjects for admission and the only one using Grade 11 subjects in the final average calculation. Most other Canadian institutions use only five Grade 12 subjects in the average calculation. Further study by Institutional Analysis found that including more subjects in the average did not improve prediction of post-secondary success and that an admission decision could be made with as few as four subjects.
2. Easier communication of admission requirements to prospective students: The current method of determining an admission average required the calculation of three different averages that varied by college. This complex method confused students, parents and guidance counselors. As the proposed new method of calculation will be the same for all colleges it will be easier to provide complete and accurate information to applicants.
3. Simplification of business practices: Simplification of the admission average calculation will reduce customizations that would be required with implementation of the new student information system. The new information system will automate many of the admission decision processes enabling the University of Saskatchewan to improve response times to applicants.
Two studies were undertaken to determine the impact on the applicant cohort using the new admission average. Institutional Analysis examined Grade 12 subjects to determine which Grade 12 subjects are the best predictors of university performance. Grade 12 grades and University grades were obtained for 2900 full-time students admitted for 2001W. Regression analysis on core courses such as English 30, Mathematics 30, Biology 30, Chemistry 30, Physics 30 and Social Studies 30 found that many core subjects were found to predict university grades, but when analyses were run on individual colleges, the predictive capacity varied.*
The Research Analyst, Student and Enrolment Services conducted a study to find out how a cohort of students admitted using the new admission average calculation would change from the cohort admitted under the current method. An analysis of the 2002W applicant pool was conducted for each direct-entry college. For all colleges it was found that the effect of change in the admission cohort was statistically insignificant.
Appendix: Approved 30-level Subjects for Admission
In addition to the highest English and Mathematics marks, as detailed above, the highest marks from three of the following subjects will be used in calculation of the admission average:
Maximum 2 subjects
|Social Science/ Humanities
Maximum 2 subjects
|Fine/ Performing Arts
Maximum 1 subject
Computer Science (1.0)
Mathematics (one other only)
|Christian Ethics (Religious Studies)
English (one other only)
* For Kinesiology applicants only, Physical Education will be considered as an approved Fine/Performing Arts elective.
** Any approved language other than English (e.g. Cree, Saulteaux, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish, Ukrainian)
*** For applicants to all direct entry programs in Education including B.Ed (Home Economics), B.Ed (Technical Vocational), B.Ed (Industrial Arts), B.Ed/B.Mus (Mus. Ed.), ITEP, SUNTEP, NORTEP one course from the following list may be used in place of a Fine/Performing Arts elective: Clothing and Fashion (.5), Clothing and the Person (.5), Clothing, Textiles and Fashion (.5), Family Life, Food and Nutrition (.5), Food Studies, Housing, Home Economics, Interior Design, Industrial Arts
“The University of Saskatchewan Enrolment Plan: Bridging to 2010”
As approved by University Council, Nov. 20, 2003
Undergraduate Students.Undergraduate student enrolment will increase, in selective areas, by approximately 2,600 students, from an average headcount (1997-98 to 2001-02) of 15,900 students to 18,500 or approximately 15,800 FTE by 2010, and measures will be taken to sustain that enrolment for the period beyond 2010.(1) To accomplish this goal, the University will place primary emphasis on the academic preparedness of students (from Saskatchewan or elsewhere), establish aggressive recruitment policies for the best Saskatchewan and Canadian students, and increase its admissions average to direct-entry colleges from the currently advertised 65% to 70% by 2005 and to 75% by the end of the decade.
If we are to achieve our goals in graduate education, the overall size of the undergraduate student body cannot continue to grow, at least not without careful thought to the programs and areas which should be expanded or contracted. The University of Saskatchewan must distinguish itself from its peer institutions through marketing efforts designed to attract highly-qualified undergraduate students to unique or ‘niche’ programs, to programs of high quality, or to professional programs which are in high demand nationally. Continued reliance on Saskatchewan students to fill all of the available seats is highly problematic given the demographic realities confronting Saskatchewan.
Can the above projection be attained? While some would argue that courses are full and we are at capacity given our physical limitations, a recent study of course registration (2) indicates that we can indeed increase the number of undergraduate students currently admitted to our programs without substantially increasing our effort. For one thing, the way we teach our first year and upper year classes is substantially different from our peer institutions. In first year, students are offered a wide array of choices through an extraordinary number of course sections many of which do not meet the stated capacity. For courses that are oversubscribed, departments are reluctant to indicate that they simply cannot accommodate student needs and opt instead to create additional sections which are then undersubscribed. This problem is compounded by the large number of courses offered at the 3rd and 4th year levels with too few students. We have adhered to a rigid timetable/schedule beginning at 8:30 am and finishing at 4:30 or 5:00 pm; few, if any courses are scheduled between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm, none on Saturdays, and none before 8:30 am. These problems are further compounded by the inherent rigidities built into many of our program offerings; for example, the ‘lock-step’ nature of many programs makes it difficult for students to move to the next year of study if they have not successfully completed one course, or to easily changes majors or programs. Further, cross-college cooperation in the delivery of courses is not encouraged; many obstacles exist to ensure that students from one college cannot take courses specifically designed for students in another college. And, we continue to hire faculty into tenure-track positions where there is little hope of their participating in a graduate program or teaching a graduate class. We must change our practices.
Our ability to deliver programs of study more efficiently is hampered by our physical plant, the number of large lecture theatres that are available to us, and by the human resources, including teaching assistants, required to at least maintain our existing program quality. It is also hampered by some of our policies, specifically agreements about the number of Sessional Lecturers that can be employed to teach in our programs, thereby freeing up faculty to conduct research and related activities. We seem, however, to have accepted these inefficiencies without challenging our academic and major administrative units to identify alternative large lecture spaces, both on and off campus, which might provide greater opportunities for consolidation of the number of sections offered. In the context of the college planning process, we need to revisit past assumptions and determine whether there are more efficient and equally effective methods to achieve our goals without sacrificing our program quality and student satisfaction.
The discussion on campus over the past few years has revealed that the proposed target identified above is reasonable and reachable provided we put in place the necessary actions and support mechanisms. It has the added advantage of permitting a more concentrated effort on graduate education while ensuring that our resource base, increasingly supported by undergraduate student tuition, is maintained. A slow, selective, level of undergraduate student growth is sustainable and realistic; it is certainly more likely to be attained that a more aggressive strategy given our limited experience with student recruitment from other jurisdictions. While we would have to adjust some of our policies and set priorities to ensure efficient use of resources given the limitations of the University’s current physical plant and human infrastructure, the additional costs would be marginal and would directly support the approved student growth patterns. The target also ensures that the quality of the undergraduate student experience remains high; relative to our peer institutions, as we have discovered through the External Reviewers’ reports in Systematic Program Review, the current student experience is already extremely high. In short, this target is achievable and will provide the funding support that is needed to ensure that the University of Saskatchewan is sustained well into its second century.
A selective growth strategy will mean that we will need to identify areas of growth and development and we will need to settle on these areas quickly so that targeted recruitment efforts can begin. Where would we grow? The University, through a number of Council-approved processes, has identified some – albeit initial only – key areas for growth and development. The Priority Determination Process identified four: Biotechnology, Northern Ecosystems and Toxicology, Biomolecular Structures, and Indigenous Peoples and Justice. While the Systematic Program Review Process is not yet complete, it is clear that there are a number of programs which have attained national/international recognition and which should be marketed to at least a national audience. There are programs which are unique on campus and which are undersubscribed – for example, the College of Agriculture has had difficulty filling its admission quota for the past few years. It would be difficult to argue that a college of its reputation could not attract outstanding students from other provinces in Canada, and international students, to its programs of study. The University has the most extensive health science complex in Canada, but even it does not offer the complete range of program possibilities. Given the costs of additional new programs in this area, it might be appropriate for the University to partner with other universities to expand its program offerings within the prairie region. The University of Saskatchewan also has a unique opportunity in Canada given that the only synchrotron in the country is housed on its campus. We must make good use of our unique opportunities.
Given the demographic realities confronting the province, we will need to recruit a significant number of students from outside of Saskatchewan. To do so will require that we reconsider our current preference for recruiting Saskatchewan students on a priority basis to our programs, i.e. the so called ‘Saskatchewan First’ policy. This is an informal policy that has been in effect for decades and was intended to ensure that Saskatchewan students had first call on admissions to the University’s programs. We cannot continue to discriminate against students from other parts of Canada in our programs. While Saskatchewan students have benefited from the availability of a wide array of high quality professional programs, all of which meet national accreditation standards, many of these programs have been designed to favour applicants from Saskatchewan even though other students, some with stronger academic records, apply for admission. The policy of accepting a preponderance of Saskatchewan students needs to be reconsidered in light of labour market needs in the province, the Social Union Agreement, growing demand elsewhere in Canada for university-level education, and the costs associated with the broad array of professional programs we currently offer. As a result, with the possible exception of some high cost health-science based professional programs, the University will make a number of changes to its admissions policies by 2005-06 (3) affirming an equal treatment, for admissions purposes, of all Canadian students regardless of province of residence.
Currently, the vast majority of the University’s non-visa undergraduate students come from the Province of Saskatchewan (92 percent); approximately 8 percent come from other parts of Canada. In 2001-02, only 5 percent of the undergraduate student body came from Alberta and British Columbia; 45 percent of the University’s total undergraduate enrolment came from the City of Saskatoon. By and large our students interact with people from other parts of the province, not with people from other provinces. Our programs may strive for national recognition, but most do not serve a national student body; many do not serve a regional one. Claims for excellent distinctive programming are difficult to make when recruitment is persistently based on a geographically limited
basis. While the Province of Saskatchewan is expected to continue to be the primary recruitment base from which the University of Saskatchewan selects its undergraduate student body, by the end of the decade or sooner, the University will be recruiting 15 percent of non-international undergraduate students from outside of the province. As an initial step, the University will need to ensure that non-residents of Saskatchewan are not admitted to any direct entry college if they have a lower academic average than any qualified Saskatchewan resident who is denied admission to that college.
The demographic picture outlined above points to another problem. With, at best, a steady supply of students for the next six years, and an anticipated reduction after that, the University of Saskatchewan is at risk of losing its student base. This risk has been amplified in recent years by aggressive recruitment from universities in other, neighbouring, provinces. Financial packages are part of the allure, but it is also likely that we have not established clear programmatic prominence in the minds of the students and their parents. In addition, internet-based and correspondence course universities from across Canada and around the world are now capable of bringing educational opportunities to the desktop of people throughout the Province. Our own thinking about who our students are, and who they could be, needs to change. Selected programs will be identified and promoted as areas of distinctive strength on at least a regional level. To make this adjustment we will require time to develop and build a recruitment presence in neighbouring provinces.
Clearly, the Student and Enrolment Services Division will need to work with the colleges to identify appropriate niche programs and should begin by actively considering recruiting high-achieving students from the college systems in Alberta and British Columbia into years three and four of similar or niche programs at the University of Saskatchewan. A recruitment package, including financial and residential incentives, should be developed for these students. It will also be important for the University to identify the best “markets” outside of Saskatchewan for recruiting undergraduate students to the University and to develop interchange agreements with other universities so that students from the University of Saskatchewan can gain credit for a semester of academic work at another institution (and vice versa).
The University of Saskatchewan will undertake to ensure that its century-long commitment to the people of Saskatchewan is maintained, indeed enhanced, by making a special effort to recruit the best and brightest Saskatchewan students to its doors as their first choice of university-level institution. Recent experience with the Greystone Scholars program suggests that approximately 45 percent of Saskatchewan students with averages of 95 percent or higher attend other universities, with only a few of these students going to the University of Regina. The University wants to ensure that it continues to recruit the very best students from Saskatchewan. Our goal should be to become, indisputably, the premier educational destination in the province. To do so will require that more effort be placed in identifying and recruiting to the University the very best our province has to offer. This will be a primary responsibility of the Student and Enrolment Services Division in collaboration with the colleges.
Recruiting the best students means we need to also turn our attention to the minimum entrance requirements we advertise to potential students. It begins by giving a strong indication of the kind of educational background that is required to succeed at university-level education. Beginning in the 2005-06 academic year, the University of Saskatchewan will require a 70% average on the required subjects for entrance to its programs; by 2010, that admission average will rise to 75%.
The University of Saskatchewan needs to signal clearly its goal of recruiting an academically talented student body. This basic goal should be reflected across the various strategies adopted, beginning with entrance requirements. Currently, for direct entry colleges, the minimum average advertised for entrance is 65 percent based on a weighted average of seven (or more) courses of Grade 12 and Grade 11 work.(4) This average has been in place for decades during which the mean entrance averages in direct entry Colleges have been climbing. In 2001-02, the mean admission average and the range of admission averages for direct entry colleges were:
TABLE ONE: MEAN ADMISSION AVERAGES (2000-01 TO 2002-03) AND PROPORTION WITHIN EACH DIRECT ENTRY COLLEGE
Average Number of Students Admitted with an Academic Average Below 75 (% of total students admitted)
Average Range of Admission Averages (%)
65 – 96.0
Arts and Science
65.1 – 98.6
72.5 – 97.7
65.6 – 95.2
68.2 – 98.0
71.9 – 96.2
65.0 – 98.6
Over the past two years, an average of 449 students (or 19% of the total admitted to direct entry colleges)(6) had entrance averages between 65 percent and 74.9 percent. While increasing the admission average to this level will obviously disadvantage some students, it is reasonable to assume that the University has the capacity, within its existing quotas, to admit up to 500 students from other parts of Canada or elsewhere with averages of 75% or better to replace those Saskatchewan students who do not meet a revised minimum admission average. It is also safe to assume that such students would be more likely to succeed in their studies than those with lower admission averages.
The University has two options available to it to change the admission average for direct entry colleges: it could announce a change beginning with a particular admissions cycle or it could phase in the change over a period of time. Given that this Enrolment Plan has been discussed extensively both on and off campus and with the University Senate, the University should be prepared to proceed with the first option. Therefore, once this Foundational Document is approved by Council, all direct entry colleges will be asked to make this change and the recommendation will be presented to the appropriate Council committees in time for the next admissions cycle and implementation (i.e., 2005-06).
The University, however, is sensitive to those students who, under previous arrangements, might have been admitted to one of its programs. Such students should be provided an opportunity to take a limited number of credit units to demonstrate ability and aptitude for University.
Finally, the University of Saskatchewan is sensitive to the need to ensure that Saskatchewan students continue to have access to high cost, highly specialized, professional programs. Most universities across Canada, including those with open entry provisions at the undergraduate level, have provincial (or regional) preferences. Colleges/Faculties of Medicine, for example, typically have some form of provincial preference built into their admissions system, although most schools generally admit some out of province students. Given the funding provided by the Government of Saskatchewan specifically for these programs, and the high per-student subsidy in such programs – support provided with the explicit expectation that the students educated in these programs will remain in the province to meet pressing professional needs – the University of Saskatchewan acknowledges the need to maintain a relative level of provincial preference in these programs. However, our willingness to do so must be balanced against the need to ensure that we attract highly qualified applicants (who we might ask to contribute more than marginal costs to subsidize these programs). It should also be balanced against the need to attract students from other parts of Canada (to fulfill our share of the Social Union contract) or from international destinations (such students would only be accepted into these programs when specific financial arrangements, such as the College of Dentistry’s ‘full cost’ tuition, have been established). The University will, however, need government sponsored programs to encourage settlement and practicein Saskatchewan following degree completion.
(1) Figures are expressed as Headcount for the purposes of this Enrolment Plan. Note, however, that various FTE measures parallel these headcounts and that, for retention and budgetary purposes, enrolments expressed in credit unit terms are more appropriate.
(2) This study was conducted by Institutional Analysis during the 2002-03 academic year.
(3) Although it would be preferable to implement these changes sooner, there is an equal and pressing need to ensure that potential students, parents, and guidance counselors are aware of the changes we intend to make and have had time to adjust their plans accordingly. It is unlikely that any of the major changes proposed below to admissions policies could be implemented by the start of the 2004-05 academic year
(4) The Student and Enrolment Services Division is currently working with the direct entry colleges to identify a set of five courses to be used for admission screening purposes. It is anticipated that this will be in effect for the 2005-06 admissions cycle. The Enrolment Plan endeavors to integrate all of these admissions changes into one package.
(5) Although Education is primarily a non-direct entry college, there is a quota of 55 students in two programs which are direct entry.
(6) The total number of “spaces” in direct entry colleges for first-year first-time admissions is 3,100. This includes 1,900 in Arts and Science (assuming that the ‘temporary’ admissions quota approved in the mid-1990s is still in effect). It does not include students in Unclassified Studies.