Proposal for Bachelor’s of General Studies Degree Passes KPU Senate

If established, the program will largely target adult students who’ve taken a “non-linear path to education”

Diane Purvey, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Faith Auton-Cuff, Associate Dean, are hoping to implement a Bachelor of General Studies degree at KPU. (Aly Laube)

By 2020, Kwantlen Polytechnic University may be accepting students for its first Bachelor’s degree in general studies, the concept for which was endorsed by the university’s Senate at the end of October.

Separate from the Bachelor of Arts, Major in General Studies degree that’s already being offered, the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) is specifically designed for “those who have taken a non-linear path to education or have extensive work experience and wish to complete a Bachelor’s degree,” according to the program concept in the Senate minutes.

The concept further clarify that the degree is “particularly targeted to KPU students, adult students over the age of 25, and transfer students who do not currently have a degree.”

Diane Purvey, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, says that she has been thinking about introducing a BGS at KPU for a while. When Faith Auton-Cuff became an associate dean in 2016, she “took up that charge and has been the one working on it since then, and has been shepherding it through its various processes,” Purvey explains.

“One thing we want to make clear right now is that it’s a concept,” she adds, noting that the proposed paper still needs to be approved by the KPU Board of Governors in January before program development can be considered.

After the approval, it will have to go through the province’s Post-Secondary Institution Proposal System, where it will remain available for public commentary for 30 days. From there, the university will respond to the comments made on the document and move onto putting together the final program proposal.

“We’re happy about this, we’re excited about it, but we’re very respectful of the fact that there’s still a lot to do and a lot of approvals that need to happen,” says Purvey.

The future of the program is looking promising so far. Auton-Cuff says that there has been “full faculty consultation” on the concept paper for the BGS, and that it has been approved by all of the Dean’s councils. When it reached the university’s Senate, there was only one comment made on the document before it was approved unanimously.

The defining factor of the BGS degree is that it is intended to be accessible to wider demographics than the average KPU student, with a particular focus on adult learners.

“We suspect that most of the students will be older, who do have those experiences and credits from other programs, who will come in here to complete their degree, and those are not necessarily the students we have right now,” says Purvey.

A memorandum of understanding between KPU and Thompson Rivers University developed around two years ago has allowed the university to offer competency-based learning, which requires an arts advisor to assess students for having their prior educational and professional experience transferred into credits. Students can also use prior learning assessment on a course-by-course level if their portfolio is approved.

“Because of prior learning assessment, KPU look at this body of work and [it] will be evaluated for credit,” explains Auton-Cuff. “[The university] will then say—maybe given the amount of credit that has been awarded with my body of work thus far—how many credits do I still need to do to actually end up completing a degree?”

She adds that the Bachelor of General Studies will give students a tremendous amount of flexibility to choose which courses they take to meet their degree requirements.

“The wonderful, beautiful thing about this is that there’s no new curriculum,” says Auton-Cuff. “It’s really based on curriculum that has already been developed by faculty and approved by faculty councils, and so students have a choice of a huge, vast array of courses.”

A student sub-committee of the faculty council, which has also just been developed, will also be reviewing the project proposal when it is prepared. Until then, KPU administration will be reviewing, consulting on, and revising the proposal for the degree.

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