Faculty are working towards restructuring programs to fit current needs of students, and the job market
This year has seen a number of proposed changes and additions to various programs at UVic. Among the more recent announcements, the English Department will be offering a fully online version of their MA program, and a new Media Studies program has been proposed by the Faculty of Humanities.
The English MA will be one of very few graduate degrees offered entirely online at UVic, as most degrees available through distance learning still have a few in-person requirements at some point in their timelines. UVic students doing in-person learning for their English MA will also be able to take the courses offered online.
The new program will not replace the master’s program currently offered but will instead be an alternative option for students. This option will open up possibilities for anyone that is not able to relocate to Victoria for an intensive program.
The degree will also be available to be completed over an extended period of time, accommodating students not wanting or able to do full-time schooling. The prevalence of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic opened up possibilities for how post-secondary learning can be offered.
“This was the easiest change we’ve ever made to our program,” said Stephen Ross, UVic English professor and graduate adviser.
The History Department is also in the process of offering a similar option. There is no information yet on whether more departments will follow suit or not. “If they’re smart,” said Ross, “they’re gonna sit back and see if we’re successful.”
New choices may be coming for UVic undergraduates as well, not just grad students. The Faculty of Humanities has proposed a new Media Studies program, which will be an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate. More details will be shared by March 2023 if the program is approved by the Board of Governors.
The program is set to address a gap in UVic’s degree offerings, according to Jentery Sayers, associate professor in the Department of English and coordinator for the proposed Media Studies program.
“It is also meant to address market conditions,” said Sayers in an email to the Martlet. “If, for instance, you read the 2021 British Columbia Labour Market Outlook, you will note that — for 1 003 600 job openings projected in the province by 2031 — the strongest demands are for ‘people skills’ such as active listening, speaking, and critical thinking as well as competencies like complex problem solving.”
The proposed program has been in the works formally for two years, with informal conversations about it going back to 2017. The process has gone smoothly so far, and will hopefully stay that way going forward.
“Fortunately, the Faculty of Humanities voted unanimously in favour of the proposal,” said Sayers. “Aside from the many challenges we are all facing as a result of the pandemic — the Humanities have not encountered any significant obstacles in the proposal process.”
Both of these program additions show how learning methods need to adapt to stay up to date with technological advancements and societal roadblocks (such as the pandemic). Stay on the lookout for future updates about the new online English MA program and the proposed Media Studies degree.