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    AUCC membership key to granting foundational degrees

    At a meeting on Jan. 22, the Senate of Queen's University in Ontario approved a new policy stating that, to satisfy the basis of admission requirement to any degree program at Queen's, academic credentials obtained from a Canadian post-secondary institution must be from an institution that is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

    The Queen's announcement confirms the validity of Mount Royal’s decision to forgo offering foundational baccalaureate degrees as a college, according to Mount Royal President Dr. Dave Marshall.

    “Across the country, universities are doing what we suggested would happen,” says Marshall. “As more and more non-accredited institutions develop degree programs, universities are going to make explicit statements about who’s admissible to their institutions. I suspect that Queen's is only the first of many other institutions who are planning to make it clear to applicants that, unless you come from an AUCC accredited institution, admission to their programs will be exceedingly difficult.”

    Marshall explains that such policies have been motivated by the incredible growth in the number and variety of post-secondary options available to students in the past decade. “While all of the options are valid, some credentials are meant to prepare students for the workplace and not for graduate study,” he says. “Universities are experiencing a greater need to establish guidelines around the kind of preparation students require to enter their graduate programs.

    “I think all of the evidence around the country suggests that Mount Royal’s decision to only move ahead with foundational degrees as an AUCC-accredited university is absolutely right.”

    Skip Triplett, President of Kwantlen University College in B.C., agrees.

    “Kwantlen [not an AUCC member] has experienced some difficulty with getting our graduates into programs outside of British Columbia,” says Triplett. “In B.C., we have no problem because our major universities understand who we are. Last summer, however, we were engaged in a mini-war with the University of Alberta because one of our Bachelor of Business Administration graduates had been rejected from a program because Kwantlen is not considered an eligible institution.

    “I wrote to the university in support of her application, and the dean wrote as well. When you’re not eligible, you’ve got to do it graduate by graduate, department by department and school by school. We haven’t failed in our efforts, but we’ve had to spend a lot of time to get our students admitted to graduate programs.

    “It is a battle, mostly because of the name ‘university college’ and our lack of AUCC membership. The AUCC has no official power, but it is very powerful.”

    Kwantlen will continue offering baccalaureate degrees and plans to apply again for AUCC membership in 2007.

    In Alberta, it has been rumoured that Grant MacEwan College plans to seek degree-granting status as a college through Bill 43.

    As for Mount Royal’s proposed mandate change, Marshall feels that there is growing support in the Calgary community for a new university. “We’re making change the appropriate way,” he says. “Changing people’s minds takes time and education.”

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