Academic Programs Committee Reports
Academic Programs Committee
FOR INFORMATION ONLY
PRESENTED BY: Geoff Hughes, Chair, Academic Programs Committee
DATE OF MEETING: June 17, 2004
SUBJECT: Annual Report of the Academic Programs Committee
to University Council for 2003-2004
COUNCIL ACTION: For information only
Annual Report of the Committee 2003-2004
The Academic Programs Committee is responsible for:
1. Recommending to Council policies and procedures related to academic programs.
2. Undertaking the academic review of proposals for revision of existing programs, for new programs, and for deletion of programs.
3. Undertaking the academic review of proposals for the establishment, disestablishment or amalgamation of any college, school, department or any unit responsible for the administration of an academic program.
4. Undertaking the academic review of the proposed or continuing affiliation or federation of other institutions with the University.
5. Considering the academic implications of quotas and admission standards.
6. Approving minor program changes, including additions of new courses and revisions to or deletions of existing courses and reporting them to Council.
7. Approving the annual academic schedule and reporting the schedule to Council for information and recommending to Council substantive changes in policy governing dates for the academic sessions.
8. Approving minor changes (such as wording and renumbering) to rules governing examinations and reviewing and recommending to Council substantive changes.
9. Recommending to Council classifications and conventions for instructional Programs.
The Academic Programs Committee of Council held 15 meetings this year. Subcommittees were also established to review program submissions. The Committee dealt with five new programs and program revisions this year, a reduction from previous years.
The Committee anticipates that its workload will increase as colleges revise curriculums in response to SPR, accreditation reviews, and their College Plans.
Council’s curricular approval process. As indicated in the Terms of Reference, the Academic Programs Committee has responsibility for oversight of curricular changes at the University of Saskatchewan. Before 1995, the U of S system required that every change, even so much as a course title, had to be approved by a university-level committee. The resulting complexity and gridlock were disincentives for curricular renewal. Approval authority has been devolved so that colleges are now in substantial control of their own curriculum.
University-level approval procedures now focus on major curricular changes or changes which may affect the students or programs in other colleges. Many curricular changes can be approved quickly and, for the most part, automatically through the Course Challenge. This allows the Academic Programs Committee to focus on the major curricular innovations and improvements which colleges propose. The Committee has also had the opportunity to discuss several wider academic and curricular policy issues, and is also acting as a reference and approval body for various academic policies and policy exemptions for the Student and Enrolment Services Division .
New Programs and major program revisions. The Academic Programs Committee reviews major curricular innovations and improvements, and makes recommendations to the Planning Committee regarding their approval. This year, the following new programs and major revisions were considered:
College of Graduate Studies and Research:
- New PhD in Nutrition
- Revisions to the MEd in School and Counselling Psychology, and deletion of the existing PGD and MEd programs in School Psychology and in Counselling.
- New MSc in Rehabilitation Medicine
- Template for Interdisciplinary Masters programs
The MSc in Rehabilitation Medicine was returned to the college for revision, with the recommendation that the program should admit several Special Case students before proceeding to a permanent program. Recommendations for revising the Interdisciplinary Masters proposal were also sent to the college.
A proposal received in June for an MEd in Educational Psychology will be reviewed by next year’s Committee.
College of Arts and Science:
- New BSc Four-year and Honours in Biomolecular Structure
- New B.Sc. Four-year and Honours in Computing
- Revised BA Three-year, Four-year and Honours in Anthropology
Program changes. The Academic Programs Committee has also been delegated the authority to approve several types of program changes from colleges. This improves Council’s ability to handle these types of program changes more quickly and efficiently, while still maintaining a university-level review of the changes to maintain quality and resolve any conflicts with other colleges.
College of Arts and Science:
- Honours program in the Sociology of Biotechnology
For regular updates on the progress of curricular change proposals through Council committees, consult the Update chart - Academic items on Council committee agendas 2003-2004 which is posted in the Reports section of the Academic Programs Committee website.
Course Challenge. Course challenges are now posted on the Course Challenge website, which allows for easier reference and review by departments and colleges. For this academic year, 18 Course Challenge documents were distributed containing new courses, prerequisite changes and minor program revisions from Agriculture, Arts and Science, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies & Research, Law, Nursing, Pharmacy and Nutrition, and Veterinary Medicine.
Challenges are infrequent, because issues are often resolved informally through revision of the intended curricular change. If a challenge cannot be resolved by the departments involved, it is decided by the Academic Programs Committee. One challenge was raised over the course of this year, and was satisfied by revision of the proposal.
Policies and Procedures
Procedures for review of Graduate Programs. APC has discussed an agreement in principle regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Academic Programs Committee and the College of Graduate Studies & Research which clarifies review of program content and viability, program rationale, and the program’s relationship to University plans. The intention is to prevent duplication of effort and overlap of responsibilities. It is intended that this agreement will take effect for a trial period, from July 2004 to January 2006.
Admission subjects and calculation of admission averages. As part of the implementation of the Enrolment Plan, APC brought to Council a proposal to standardize admission subjects and to base the 70 per cent admission standard on a five-subject average. Council approved the proposal with the request that APC should determine which high school subjects are acceptable for admission and report these to Council. The increase of the minimum admission average to 70 per cent was subsequently approved by Senate.
Academic schedule. The Committee approved the 2004-05 Academic Schedule.
Policy exemptions. The Committee approved the following exemptions to academic policies:
English proficiency exemption for the Heritage Language Certificate program. APC considered a request of the College of Education that current and continuing students in the Heritage Language Certificate program be exempted from the English proficiency requirements for courses offered within this program. APC approved this request so that this group of students would be allowed to complete the program. The College of Education has also indicated that it intends to operate this program in the future at the level of a Certificate of Successful Completion, the type of post-secondary level program which does not include degree-level courses.
EAP Conditional Passes admission. APC approved a request from the Centre for Second Languages to allow students with conditional passes in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program to be admitted as Open Admission students. Open Admission students are restricted to 6 credit units per term. About 10 per cent of the EAP students receive a conditional pass, and are then required to take an additional 8 week part-time course. In most cases, they require one term to achieve a complete pass. Permitting these students to qualify for Open Admission allows them to continue to meet their visa requirement as full-time students and to progress toward their academic goals.
Special Topics. APC dealt with two requests for exemptions to the Special Topics course policy. One exemption, to teach a course for the third time, was approved because it was clear that oversight on deadlines had not been intended.. Another request to teach a Special Topics course at the 100-level was not approved as contrary to the policies established for first-year courses..
Foundational Documents. APC acted as the lead committee for development and approval of the Enrolment Plan Foundational Document and is now advising on its implementation. APC has also consulted with SESD regarding implementation of the new Student Information system (the SI! Project) and has representation on three of the Task Forces relating to this project.
Curricular changes due to SPR. APC has requested that the Planning Committee consider requiring that changes to C-rated programs be referred to APC for review of whether the proposed revisions were appropriate for the SPR recommendations. Planning has referred this request to the SPR Overview Committee and further discussion will occur.
Affiliations. A request from the Bylaws Committee to consider changes to the affiliation conditions for St. Peter’s College resulted in the establishment of a subcommittee to discuss affiliation agreements and their coordination with the enrolment plan.
Integrated Plans. APC discussed the Integrated Plans of the Library, the Student and Enrolment Services Division, and Information and Communications Technology, and forwarded its comments to the College Plans Review Committee.
Subcommittees. The Committee was represented on the College Plans Review Committee by Geoff Hughes and Glen Beck, and on the Program Termination Subcommittee by James Brooke.
Areas for future consideration. In addition to its specific programmatic agenda, APC has identified a number of areas for future consideration.
APC, like every other committee of Council, will be reviewing the Foundational documents and the Strategic Directions to determine their impact on its mandate and to determine areas where APC might assist in advancing the agenda. In this context APC has already struck a sub-committee to consider the broad area of experiential learning, an area that figures prominently in the above documents. APC’s interest is in providing a systematic framework for advancing proposals in this area --- a framework which might assist particularly those academic units with limited experience in this area.
A second area of proactive consideration is interdisciplinarity, which also features prominently in the integrated planning framework. Based upon some historical situations, APC believes that it may be prudent to develop a structure for informed consideration of such initiatives and for resolving academic issues which may arise.
Finally, but not as directly arising out of the planning initiative, APC believes that it may be prudent to consider the general issue of accreditation and its appropriate role in determining the university curriculum. APC recognizes that there are some areas where this process is defined by long standing historical precedent. But there are also many emergent areas that have not experienced the challenges of time. At this point it is speculative, but there may be a case for accrediting the accreditors.
No doubt other areas of interest will arise in the course of APC carrying out its mandate to preserve and enhance the quality of the institution’s academic programs.
I wish to thank Committee members for their willingness to undertake detailed and comprehensive reviews of program proposals. Their commitment to excellence and high standards resulted in improved programs for the University of Saskatchewan. Special thanks go to Glen Beck for serving as Vice-Chair of the Committee and to Cathie Fornssler for the administrative support she provided the Committee.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Committee,
G.R. Hughes, Chair
Glen Beck, Economics
James Brooke, Mathematics and Statistics
Ron Cooley, English
Jim Merriam, Geology
David Palmer, Chemistry
Sam Robinson, Education
James Stakiw, Dentistry
Rob Warrington, Biochemistry
Ross Nicholson (Sessional lecturer)
Chad Munchinsky and Wendy Sharpe (USSU)
G. Chakraborty (GSA)
David Hannah, Associate Vice-President, Student and Enrolment Services
Asa Kachan, Director, Student Record Services and Registrar
Pauline Melis, Director of Institutional Planning
C. Fornssler, secretary, Office of the University Secretary