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Capilano University's $1.3 million shortfall means suspended programs for students

The Studio Art diploma is one of the "suspended" programs at Capilano University for the fall 2013-2014 school year. Photo from

While Emily Carr University makes headlines for the announcement of its new $133 million campus, a $1.3 million shortfall for Capilano University means the institution is planning to eliminate programs that students have already been accepted into, in order to balance the budget.

The university’s board of governors will make final decisions on May 14, but the proposed budget shows that many programs, such as Applied Business, Studio Art, Textile Arts and Interactive Design, are listed under “suspension of admission” for the upcoming fall semester on Capilano University’s website.

English Instructor Brian Ganter, who runs the Culture Net program which is one of the programs slotted for elimination at Capilano University, said the timing of the announcement couldn’t be worse.

“We’re really at the height of the admissions process, and it puts our admissions in limbo. We have issued offers of admission to students already. It really seems disastrous and unfair to them,” said Ganter, who stressed that he speaks only for himself, and not on behalf of the faculty of the university.

The university’s site explains:

“Rather than do across-the-board cuts, which affect quality for every student, we are suspending intakes in some programs and reducing classes in some areas.”

Ganter expressed his frustration with the top-down decision-making that he says hasn’t included the consultation or approval of the faculty, and expressed his doubts about why certain decisions have been made.

“I think a lot of the cuts don’t seem to reflect any unilateral sense of saving money or cutting fiscally troublesome programs, that’s not it at all. Culture Net, my program, is a perfect example. We’re an interdisciplinary program; we’re a very small program as well. We basically run on courses that are already running and existing disciplines like Computing Science, Communications and English.”

“The cuts don’t seem to be fiscally driven or driven by budget, but they’re actually implementing curricular changes at the institution. Basically, teaching decisions are being made outside of the hands of teachers.”

Ganter believes the smaller programs are what draws students to Capilano University, and cutting these programs are a mistake. One of his Culture Net students, licenced engineer Betsy Agar, returned to university to “round out” her education. Her university experiences include classes at McMaster University, University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, but said her best experience so far has been at Capilano University.

“Capilano presents a unique opportunity for young people living in a city where they can’t afford to rent and often work through their education,” said Agar.

“At a time when the federal and provincial governments are trying to underpin an aging labour capacity, Capilano’s unique specialized programs are exactly the education model they should be funding: one that offers an intimate relationship between theory and practice, embedded with professional, interactive relationships between instructors and students.”

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