Changes made to fall admissions

With Wednesday’s meeting of the Wilfrid Laurier University senate, there have been changes to admissions as well as how students are categorized once they are enrolled.

Laurier president Max Blouw reported that Ontario’s universities will need to attract greater numbers of international students and grow substantially in the future, goals that the province will examine in its provision of funding.

This focus at Laurier was reflected as senate passed a new form of mandated English proficiency testing for international students.

Laurier registrar Ray Darling emphasized the increased necessity of such testing. “The government has set very ambitious targets for international recruitment,” he said. “We have to do all we can to attract those students here.”

Also approved by the senate was a credit-equivalency program that would allow a Waterloo School Board grade 12 economics class to be counted as a university credit in the place of first-year economics course EC120. This initial offering is meant as a trial of such a program which could be applied to a variety of university-credit high school classes in the future.

“We may have other classes come along as well,” said Darling. “We’re going to monitor this and see how students do in this arrangement.”

Another admissions-related item approved during the meeting was a program to offer guaranteed acceptance to Laurier for students who initially do not qualify out of high school if the student attends Conestoga College for one year.

“It gives our local partner some additional students and we’ll be guaranteed students after that first year,” Darling said. “We’re always looking for transfer students.”

If these students, whose high school grades were insufficient to be accepted into the Laurier bachelor of arts program, complete one year of Conestoga’s general arts and science program at an average of 75 per cent, their admission to Laurier will be guaranteed.

Finally, acting dean of arts Mary Louise Byrne presented a motion for approval of changes to requirements for arts students to choose a major. Since the province provides greater funding for those in honours programs, students will now be allowed to remain undeclared until their third year and remain designated as “honours” students.

Assuming the student maintains a GPA of 5.0, they will no longer be required to declare a specialization to stay in an honours BA program.

Previously, many students who did not choose a major after first year would lose the honours designation, only to re-enter an honours stream before graduating. As such, the university would receive less funding for these individuals. “In essence, they’re getting a degree at a discount,” explained Byrne.

With the approval of the senate, the change to arts will come into effect July 1 and the language testing and admissions changes will begin in September.

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