President Alan Shepard announced on Friday, Feb. 15 that the university received an invitation to the provincial government’s highly anticipated higher education summit — a mere 10 days before the start of the two-day conference. Shepard maintained that post-secondary institutions are in need of better financing and that’s an issue he plans to bring to the table on Feb. 25 and 26.
“We have less funding than we need to be great universities,” said Shepard. “We must have satisfactory financing for Quebec universities to thrive.”
When asked if Shepard was the only administrator or individual from Concordia invited, Shepard implied that the details were still under wraps but that he would be present for the summit.
Independent student? Tough luck
During question period, student Senator Gene Morrow asked why independent students at Concordia, those who have not declared a degree and are taking part-time classes, are not allowed to sit on governing bodies and if this was an oversight from the university.
While the university’s bylaws state that only students registered in a program may sit on Senate or the Board of Governors, articles 25 and 57 do not implicitly state the reasons behind the bylaw. Vice-President institutional relations Bram Freedman provided a written response saying that it was a “conscious decision” made more than 10 years ago.
“The rationale for this criterion is that representatives on the university’s highest governing bodies should be fully committed to the institution and to their studies as demonstrated by being registered in a program,” the response read.
Morrow claimed that the rationale he received was insufficient but was met with little support from fellow senators. In a previous interview with The Concordian, Shepard said that he had no interest in re-opening the debate.
By the numbers
Approximately 15 per cent of Concordia’s total enrolment is in online learning classes offered by eConcordia, with more than 50 courses offered in winter 2013 including three new courses. According to interim Provost Lisa Ostiguy, there is no current academic framework for e-learning — something that made certain senators feel nervous.
Senator Ali Akgunduz explained that Concordia students come for the culture of the university and felt that online learning did not provide the same experience. Morrow explained that while e-learning brought various opportunities to students with different learning styles that it is surrounded by “many unknowns” that make individuals feel uneasy.
Ostiguy said that discussion, faculty engagement and careful assessment of the results of online learning could lead to blended learning approaches and online certificates in the future.