Policy and Procedures for the Closure of Academic Programs (Undergraduate or Graduate)
This policy applies to Senate approved programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The policy is restricted to situations where Article 39 (Closure of an Academic Program or Unit for Academic Reasons) of the of the 2011-15 Collective Agreement between Queen's University and Queen's University Faculty Association, or any successor provision or provisions in subsequent Collective Agreements, does not apply. Note that the definition of "risk of closure" in Article 39 identifies situations which: "...may result in the layoff of one (1) or more Members or the non-voluntary redeployment of one (1) or more Members".
Requests for closure of an Academic Program will not be considered unless admissions to the Program have already been temporarily suspended following the Senate Recommended Procedures Concerning the Temporary Suspension of Admissions to Academic Programs (Approved by Senate May 28, 2013). An exception will be made for Academic Programs to which admissions were de facto suspended prior to May 28, 2013.
Definition of a Program
A program is the complete set and sequence of courses, combinations of courses and/or other units of study, research and practice prescribed by Queen's University for the fulfillment of the requirements of a degree, diploma, or certificate. For the purposes of this policy, this is limited to any program designation that appears on a student's transcript. However, graduate fields which appear on graduate student transcripts are excluded from the scope of this policy.
Definition of Closure
Closure of a Program is defined as the formal termination, approved by Senate, of the Program. Termination encompasses closure of admissions, and deletion from the relevant academic calendar(s).
There are a number of possible reasons for closing an existing academic Program. These may include: low enrolment, a changing disciplinary landscape, poor quality of the academic program, reprioritization and/or changes in resource allocation. The recommendation to close an Academic Program may be articulated in a Cyclical Program Review (CPR) review team report or may be identified by members of the university community, for example the Dean, Associate Dean and/or the Unit itself. Closure of a Program is a significant step: and as such, appropriate and thorough consultation and relevant supporting data are essential in order to enable informed, and transparent, decision making.
Protection of Students as a Guiding Principle
- Closure should not result in students being unable to complete, if they so wish, the Program they are registered in, within the standard time to completion for that Program.
- In the specific case of students enrolled in Graduate Programs, the timing and roll-out of any closure must not prevent them from completing the courses, examinations, training, and research necessary to graduate, nor interfere with their commitments of financial support (i.e. all relevant components of overall internal and external funding packages – e.g. scholarships, bursaries, Queen's Graduate awards, Graduate Research Assistantship or employment as Teaching Assistant / Teaching Fellow / Research Assistant, etc.).
- In some Graduate Programs, particularly at the Ph.D. level, completion times may extend beyond the standard time. Hence a graduate student may have completed all their degree requirements, except for defence and submission of their thesis, by the time a Program closes. In such cases, the degree issued and the transcript notation will reflect the original program name or an alternative that takes into account the needs and wants of the student.
Potential considerations in assessing the case for closure of an undergraduate or graduate Program may include but are not limited to the following:
- loss (or impending or anticipated loss) of professional accreditation
- poor or diminished quality of academic offerings (e.g. impending negative report from Cyclical Program Review)
- low enrolment that might jeopardize the academic quality of the Program
- inadequate applicant pool and yield to meet enrolment targets
- unavailability of faculty or facilities that results in a compromised ability, or inability, to deliver a Program of high quality
- unavailability of faculty that results in breach of workload agreements if available faculty are required to take on extra workload to allow a Program of high quality to be offered
- whether or not the distinctiveness of the Program warrants its preservation
- diminished relevance of the Program in relation to changes in the academic discipline
- scope of the possible impact of closure
- compatibility with the strategic direction of the Academic Unit/Faculty/University
- the Program is no longer consistent with the University's academic objectives, priorities and existing strengths
- changes and/or constraints in resource allocation
- societal need for the Program
A proposal for a Program closure must address the following points comprehensively:
- Rationale for the closure
- Impacts on, and plans for accommodation of, any students currently enrolled in the Program
- Impacts on program(s) students may transfer into in order to complete their degree
- Impacts on time-to-completion
- Impacts on staff and faculty members involved in the delivery of the Program
- Impacts on the nature and quality of the Unit's programs of study
- Impacts on other cognate units and inter-institutional agreements/contracts (if applicable)
- Impacts on shared services and/or resources (e.g. library resources, physical facilities , IT resources)
- Impact on the equity goals of the Academic Unit/Faculty/University
- Impacts on the overall academic mission of Queen's University
- For combined or joint programs with other institutions, in cases where the partner institution withdraws, demonstration that Queen's University has made reasonable efforts to find a new partner which can provide the resources or expertise required to support the program.
Proposals for the closure of an existing Program will be subject to the following sequence of internal University approval processes. If this process has been commenced but a "risk of closure" arises, then the process outlined in Article 39 would take precedence over the process outlined in this Policy and Procedures. The relevant Dean(s) is/are responsible for initiating and executing the following process steps:
- Preliminary consultation with students, faculty, staff, other academic units and external stakeholders, and the Provost.
- Draft proposal for Program closure initiated by Unit and/or Faculty/School.
- Draft proposal sent to Provost's Office for preliminary discussion. For Graduate Programs, the proposal will be sent concurrently to the School of Graduate Studies.
- Draft proposal presented by relevant Dean(s) for information and discussion at the relevant Faculty Board(s) (and in the case of Graduate Programs, at GSEC).
- Draft proposal is presented by relevant Dean(s) for information to Senate.
- Proposal is developed further by Unit in conjunction with the relevant Faculty/School.
- During this phase broad consultation will take place with students, faculty, staff, other academic units and external stakeholders.
- The proposed date for discontinuing or phasing out an Academic Program will take into consideration the time required for anticipated completion by students currently enrolled or for facilitation of their placement in acceptable alternative programs.
- Final proposal is signed off by Provost
- Students currently enrolled in the Program are notified of the proposed Program closure and timing for phasing out of the Program
- Final proposal approved by relevant Faculty Boards and GSEC
- Final proposal approved by Senate Committee on Academic Development (SCAD)
- Final proposal is submitted to Senate by SCAD for approval.
Solely in the case of combined or joint programs involving an external partner institution, it is understood that if the other institution decides to withdraw from its partnership with Queen's, the Provost may waive the requirement that admission to the program be suspended before the closure process is initiated.
Program closures are reported annually to the COU Quality Council and the MTCU by the Office of the Provost for information.