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Faculty vows to fight after LU suspends 17 programs, citing low enrolment

Faculty rep accuses the administration of ‘slowly, but surely dismantling the university’

Laurentian University is suspending registration for 17 programs over 13 units, citing low enrolment and overlapping programs, and it’s a decision the faculty association plans on fighting. 

Jean-Charles Cachon, secretary and treasurer of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), said the administration does not have the authority under the Laurentian University Act to suspend programs unilaterally without first consulting the university senate. 

As well, he said there was an agreement in place since April of last year that no programs would be suspended, indicating the decision to suspend should be reviewed by the senate. 

The programs affected are Études de l’environnement/Environnement durable, Mathématiques – tous les programmes (spécialisation, majeure, concentration) (FR) (BA & BSc), Music – specialization, Modern languages – all programs, Théâtre (FR) – spécialisation, Geography (EN/FR) – specialisation, Archaeology – all programs, BAA en Ressources humaines (FR), BBA in International Management (EN), BBA in Entrepreneurship (EN), Outdoor Adventure Leadership (FR), Kinésie humaine (Maîtrise) (FR), Anthropology – all programs.

There is an expectation that in the next few months, the English and Études françaises departments will find a way to consolidate its offerings, said Cachon.

“The administration is slowly, but surely dismantling the university,” Cachon said. “We had an assurance that there was no intention to suspend programs. Obviously, they changed their minds, but we don’t understand why.”

But the university’s president countered, saying the programs aren’t being suspended. Registration for this year is being suspended, meaning there will be no new students in those programs, at least for this year.

Robert Haché said the decision is based on the number of students enrolled in those programs, as well as the fact there are similar programs offered at Laurentian. He said registration is only being suspended this year, and they will look at those programs moving forward to determine whether they are needed.

“Year over year, what the university does, is it monitors which programs are popular with students,” said Haché. “Some programs continue to be popular and grow, while others draw less interest from students. This is a natural process for all universities over time, with some new programs being created, while others get suspended.”

These particular programs are across four different faculties, where enrollment has been suffering. Enrolment numbers vary, Haché said, but they are often below 10 students and usually have three or four students.

All students currently enrolled will have the full opportunity to complete them, Haché said.

“We are not closing the programs, but appropriate discussions need to happen to see what is the best long-term future overall for the university,” Haché said. 

There are very close alternatives to these programs at Laurentian, and the university fully expect to accommodate every single student who applies for these programs in something very similar, Haché said. 

“Consolidating some of these programs will increase the overall strength of the programs and increase the education experience for the students,” he said.

Faculty is not being impacted, said Haché. 

“We have an agreement with the faculty association that will continue to be respected. Faculty will have the opportunity to engage in conversation about how we plan the way forward to offer the strongest possible program for our students.”

Meanwhile, LUFA is seeking a judicial review of the decision, Cachon said. It will be up to the courts to decide whether it is illegal. 

“LUFA lawyers are looking into a date for a hearing,” Cachon said.

Arron Pickard

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