Queen's University

Arts and Science responds to fiscal situation

 
2009-03-26

As part of the effort to address the serious financial challenges it faces, Queen's has asked all academic and administrative units across the University to cut 15 per cent from their budgets over the next three years. A number of other factors increases the cut in the Faculty of Arts and Science to 20 per cent.

Arts and Science comprises approximately half of the University. The Faculty is the largest at Queen’s, with 27 departments, 455 permanent full-service faculty members and about 10,000 students.

Currently, there are 160 degree types, leading to over 1,600 possible concentration combinations among the physical sciences, languages, social sciences, humanities and creative arts within Arts and Science. This level of choice is highly valued by students.

There are no plans to close any departments or programs.

One proposal in the Faculty’s long-term cost-cutting strategy is to suspend admissions to the degree types that have had fewer than 25 students enrolled over the past several years, and explore ways to restructure the offerings so as to be more efficient, while maintaining the range and excellence of our academic programs.

Approximately 40 degree types have been identified, affecting less than 5 per cent of students.

All students currently enrolled in these concentration combinations will be able to continue their studies in their concentration of choice and complete their degrees as planned.

The concentration combinations within these 40 degree types range across the Faculty. Degree types and concentrations across all disciplines may be affected. These include most Science Medials, including Statistics, Computing and Chemistry, and several Subjects of Specialization; all Special Field concentrations, including Canadian Studies, Medieval Studies, and Spanish and Latin American Studies; and several language concentrations, including the Majors in German and Spanish.

Starting in the next registration cycle, new admissions to the 40 degree types and their concentration combinations would be suspended unless they can be restructured to be sustainable, given current resources. This will require rethinking what courses are required, who would teach them, and when they would be offered. Some departments, including fine arts and linguistics, have already successfully engaged in this process.

All department heads and undergraduate Chairs have been aware of these proposals since January, have been consulted and are working to focus resources to continue providing sustainable high quality programs within the current fiscal environment. The proposed changes in Arts and Science have been presented to the Faculty’s Committee of Departments and will be discussed at the next meeting of the Faculty Board on April 3.

All affected degree combinations will continue to be reviewed to determine their future. A more extensive curriculum review will take place within Arts and Science over the next year. The review will confirm or revise the Faculty’s pedagogical goals and consider broader reforms, which will be presented to the Curriculum Committee and Faculty Board for approval.

At Queen’s, this initiative in Arts and Science has become part of a broader curriculum review. Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane has recently released a discussion paper that explores the need to reform the curriculum to ensure academic excellence in a fast-changing world.

Many other universities in Ontario and beyond are faced with similar budget cuts, and are also looking at ways to streamline their academic offerings.

Related links:

Principal Tom Williams’ February 26th Report to the Community on the University’s Financial Situation

Vice-Principal Deane’s discussion paper on curriculum renewal

What other universities are doing in this financial context

Arts and Science website

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