Introduction of new program delayed due to low enrolment
Jessica Lio // Online Editor
First Nations students looking to transition to post-secondary studies in a cohort-based foundation year will have to wait until September 2018 to enrol in Capilano University’s new University One (U1) program.
Following late approval of the program in July, which resulted in low enrolment, the university was not able to offer U1 in the 2017-18 academic year.
According to CapU professor Lorraine Argatoff, who specializes in adult education, the university will now aim to enrol a maximum of 16 students for the program’s September 2018 start.
Geronimo Alec, who is entering his third term as the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU)’s First Nations Student Liaison, explained that a key factor affecting enrolment was students’ inability to obtain band funding late in the year.
First Nations students wishing to apply for funding from their local band office must meet an annual deadline between January and the end of March, which varies by region. As a consequence of the university’s mid-July approval, students would not have been able to apply for funding in time to enrol in the U1 program.
Although CapU currently offers a College and University Preparation program for First Nations students, the eight-month U1 program was meant to serve as a coherent transition year. It features not only courses that foster critical thinking but additional support from in-resident elders, guest speakers, field trips and culturally rich course content.
Following generations of trauma caused by residential schools and policies calling for the extermination of indigenous cultures, universities across Canada have implemented transition programs supporting students of Aboriginal, Inuit or Métis heritage as they navigate education systems within post-secondary institutions.
“We want to a program where indigenous students can thrive in first-year university, and not just cope,” Argatoff explained, adding that U1’s engaging and culturally sensitive programming would foster a smooth transition to post secondary education.
First Nations learners can expect meaningful content and the chance to develop academic skills to confidently pursue the remainder of their chosen programs. Upon successful completion, students will earn 12 100-level credits that to be used towards degree, diploma and certificate programs at CapU.
“It definitely will help First Nations students transition from a high school level of doing assignments to a university standard,” Alec said. Whether students are interested in Business, Arts, Tourism or any other field of study, he believes U1 is a valuable program that will set students up for academic success.
In the meantime, students have access to support and tutoring at the Kéxwusm-áyakn Centre. First Nations Advisor David Kirk and First Nations Community Engagement Facilitator Clay Little are also on campus to assist students with their transition to university studies.
Throughout this academic year, Argatoff plans to maintain contact with lower mainland high schools and local nations to recruit students who are ready to thrive in U1.
“It really is a shame that [U1] is not running this year but we’ll push forward regardless,” said Alec, who will also be active in recruiting students for U1’s 2018 start. Working closely with Kirk, Little, Dangerfield and students in the First Nation Students’ Collective, Alec also plans to help increase the First Nations student population on campus.