Report of the Senate Committee on University Planning

Senate Agenda - EXHIBIT IV - March 20, 1998


  1. A Reorganization of Continuing Studies, Mediated Learning, and Instructional Technology Resources


    That the responsibility for the activities of the Division of Continuing Studies and for University-wide instructional technology support be removed from the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning.


    That academic responsibility for the development, offering, and ongoing monitoring of all diploma and certificate programs currently managed by the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning be transferred at the earliest opportunity to the relevant Faculty or Faculties. These programs should be developed and reviewed by Faculty EPCs. Non-credit courses should be coordinated through and offered by Continuing Studies. Enrolment in Certificate and Diploma program courses will be included in Faculty statistics for planning purposes and Enrolment Contingent Funding. Where no Faculty wishes to assume responsibility for a program, it will be discontinued.


    Removal of Continuing Studies and University-wide instructional technology support from the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning will result in the following:

    a) The Western Centre for Continuing Studies will be established as a cost-recovery unit reporting to the Vice-Provost with responsibilities for non-degree-credit courses, the Trois-Pistoles French Immersion Program, and, in cooperation with academic Faculties, certificate and diploma programs (where such programs are not offered solely by the Faculty)

    b) The Instructional Technology Resource Centre (ITRC) will be established within Information and Technology Services (ITS) as a University-wide support service with responsibilities for:

    c) A single position of Coordinator of Summer and Distance Studies will be established, reporting to the Vice-Provost, with the following responsibilities:

    d) Use of the term "Mediated Learning" will be ended and replaced with "Distance Studies" and the responsibilities for Distance Studies will be allocated as follows:


    With the creation of the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning (FoCOL) responsibility for the various activities of the Faculty of Part-Time and Continuing Education were reassigned: summer credit courses are now coordinated from the Office of the Registrar; non-degree credit courses, a number of certificate and diploma programs, mediated learning courses, off-campus credit courses, and the Trois-Pistoles French Immersion Program are within the Division of Continuing Studies in the new Faculty of Communications and Open Learning. Finally, the task of developing a university-wide resource for the development and support of applications of information technology to instruction was assigned to FoCOL.

    The experience of the past year suggests that the interests of the Division of Continuing Studies, the Instructional Technology Resource Centre and the new Faculty would be better served if the University wide resources were clearly identified as central functions rather than attached to FoCOL. This assertion derives from the following observations:

    1. An identity problem. On the one hand, the University and the external community find it difficult to understand the rationale for locating the continuing studies operation for the entire University within a single academic Faculty. On the other hand, many members of FoCOL itself are uncomfortable with University-wide support units being associated with the new Faculty; the struggle to establish a clear academic vision and identity provides sufficient challenges without the added puzzle of incorporating these functions.

    2. Budgetary issues. Continuing Studies (CS) was established as a cost-recovery unit but a thorough exploration of the financial operations has revealed that its programs had been heavily subsidized by the University operating budget in recent years. The restructuring of CS in pursuit of a cost-recovery operation has thus proven more challenging than originally anticipated. FoCOL staff have often been drawn away from their primary duties to support of CS activities; CS staff sometimes have been distracted from their urgent responsibilities by the challenge of administrative coordination with FoCOL staff. It would be far less complicated to set and manage budgetary goals for the CS program if it was an independent unit.

    3. Operational issues. The Dean, faculty, and staff of FoCOL are faced with the important challenges of developing a new Faculty with a distinctive mission and vision, nurturing a new undergraduate program, and sustaining three important graduate programs. The functions of Continuing Studies and the Instructional Technology Resource Centre are quite distinct from these central academic objectives, important in their own right but consuming time and energy. The task of successfully reorganizing the operations of CS and the ITRC has proven greater than anticipated and could impede the evolution of the new Faculty.

    4. Mediated Learning. A number of substantial operational problems in the summer of 1997 led to the establishment of an internal review of the unit's operations. Here, as with other operations within CS, major reorganization appears to be required if the operation is to deliver courses effectively to off-campus students and take advantage of modern information technology. Such reorganization will of necessity involve units across campus. It now is clear that such efforts will be difficult to coordinate as long as Mediated Learning is attached to FoCOL.

    The first full year of operation of the new Faculty, with its research and education focus on information and media studies, suggests that its potential contributions to the University may well exceed even original high expectations. Continuing Studies provides Western with a unique and important vehicle to bring the expertise and knowledge of the University to the general and professional community. With the rapid expansion of information technology and connectivity and the decline in interest in the traditional off-campus format, the feasibility and value of distance studies increases. Students and instructors, both on-campus and in distance courses, require innovative and reliable support in the development of information technology applications. The organizational model approved by Senate with the creation of FoCOL, envisaged these diverse functions as elements of a single organization. This vision appeared optimal at the time but developments and experience of the past year suggest that the interests of all would be bettered served by an alternate organizational arrangement.

    Diploma and Certificate programs are an important subset of the Continuing Studies program at Western. They stand out because, although a successful graduate is not granted a degree, they are issued a diploma or certificate that entails a lesser but formal academic credential with the University's imprimatur. In addition, these programs involve a mix of non-credit courses and others that are part of Western's normal undergraduate offerings. Over the years, diploma and certificate programs have been developed in Art Therapy, Women's Issues, Health Promotion, Addiction Studies, Case Management, Palliative Care, and Second Language Instruction. As can be inferred from the program titles Western's Faculties, to a greater or lesser extent, include expertise that is relevant to these programs. However, a close connection of approval and regular review does not exist between Continuing Studies and these certificate and diploma programs. Given that these programs involve the granting of a formal academic credential by the University of Western Ontario, they should be developed and sustained by the relevant Faculty or Faculties to ensure their academic content and quality.

    At a meeting held on February 18,1998, the Council of the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning solidly endorsed the reorganization described above.

  2. Change of the Name of the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning to the Faculty of Information and Media Studies

    Recommended: Given the elimination of the responsibility for the activities of the Division of Continuing Studies and for University-wide instructional technology support, the name of the Faculty of Communications and Open Learning be changed to the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, effective immediately, as recommended by the Council of the Faculty.


    The change of name of the Faculty was approved by the Council of the Faculty on February 18, following discussions of several possibilities. The Faculty believes that Information and Media Studies accurately and concisely communicates the mission and vision of the new Faculty. It is important that the name change be authorized by Senate at the earliest opportunity so that advertisements for faculty recruitment can carry the new Faculty name.

  3. New Operating Principles for Continuing Studies at Western

    Recommendation: That Senate endorse the following Operating Principles for Continuing Studies:

    A New Set of Operating Principles for Continuing Studies

    1. Continuing Studies operations must be self-funding.

      • The Centre for Continuing Studies should be funded entirely from its own revenues. Individual programs may for a period require subsidization from other elements of the Continuing Studies area but money losing programs should not be maintained.

    2. All Continuing Studies courses and programs must have a connection with the academy.

      • This connection could involve advocacy and partnership with a Faculty, Department, or School (e.g. professional continuing education) or individual member of faculty (e.g. special interest courses in the arts or social sciences). Such involvement should be on-going and not limited to consultation the time the program is developed.

      • Even in the case of general interest courses, the Dean(s) or Chair(s) in the related disciplines should be consulted at the time the course is developed and when instructors are appointed.

      • Where the program is a partnership involving considerable investment by an academic unit (e.g. professional continuing education, certificate and diploma programs), revenue will be shared. Although the negotiation of particular arrangements is likely to be appropriate in most cases, net revenue (gross revenue - expenses) will always be distributed in a manner that provides direct financial benefit (no less than 50%) to the participating academic unit.


    Within the Faculty of Part-Time and Continuing Education, continuing studies programs (non-degree credit courses, including diploma and certificate programs administered by the central University) followed a simple operating principle -- ascertain the needs of the external community and strive to meet them. Pursuit of this principle resulted in the development of a wide range of programs, from special interest courses in music, the arts and social sciences, through basic practical courses in word processing software, to continuing education courses for the professional community. The Faculty was more or less successful in meeting the needs of the community external to the University with these programs and the offerings have expanded to the point that Western in recent years has offered a large number and broad array of courses that speak to the interests and needs of much of London and region. These programs have been supported by a substantial staff complement.

    At the same time, a singular operating imperative to respond to community needs has resulted in the development of a Continuing Studies program that features two troubling characteristics. First, although many of the courses and programs have a connection to Western's faculty and academic programs, many others were developed without the active and/or continuing involvement of the academy. Many offerings are developed and taught by those outside of the University with little or no involvement of members of Western beyond the staff of Continuing Studies. Second, although many programs have generated adequate revenue, overall the continuing studies program has not been self funding and therefore has been heavily subsidized by the University operating budget.

    Western's core educational and research programs cannot afford to subsidize Continuing Studies. Financial issues aside, Western's programs in continuing studies should reflect the interests and expertise of the academy. The following recommendations are intended to recognize these points at the same time as they provide new directions for Continuing Studies at Western that will support and enhance its ability to achieve the valuable objective of serving the wider community through non degree credit and professional development programs that are in tune with the University's broader academic strengths and objectives.

    The adoption of this set of guidelines will inevitably result in a decline in the number and range of Continuing Studies at Western but will assure that those offered will reflect the nature and quality of the activities of the academy and will not draw resources away from the University's core functions.

  4. 1998-99 Admission Policy and Practices

    Recommended: That Senate approve the First-Entry Undergraduate Programs Admissions Policy and Practices, as outlined in Appendix 1.


    For two years, the University has maintained the practice of setting first-entry admissions standards of 75% for entering OAC students as the general criterion. This reflects a commitment to achievement rather than enrolment numbers as the basis for setting first-year entry figures. The attached policy document outlines a reaffirmation of this practice, as well as specific variance and consideration which might be allowed on the basis of performance ability (for Music programs), other areas of particular accomplishment, and the school from which the student is applying.


Appendix 1



  1. Western is committed to maintaining a minimum general standard of admission to all of its programs. This standard has been set at 75% for all OAC students since 1995-96. The standard reflects our belief that a minimum level of academic ability and achievement is prerequisite to success as a student at Western and that the quality of our undergraduate programs is determined in part by the participation of well-qualified students.

  2. Western's operating grant from the Ontario government will be maintained at its current level as long as our overall enrolment remains above the bottom of our BIU corridor. A number of factors brought the University's enrolment perilously close to the point in recent years; these included the removal by the government of BIU credit for "additional qualification courses" taught in the Faculty of Education and for international students, and the phase-out (three equal stages 1997-2000) of BIU's associated with Western's cost-recovery MBA program.

    The success of the 1997-98 undergraduate and graduate admissions cycles and the improved upper-year retention has resulted in a higher than expected BIU count but the University's total enrolment remains relatively close to the corridor floor and the threat of reductions to the government grant.

  3. There is additional capacity in Western's undergraduate programs. Course enrolments in the Faculties of Arts, Science, and Social Science are below historical levels. In fact, budget allocations/WTU in the faculties are substantially above the levels of the early to mid-1990's despite the major budget reductions of recent years.

    New programs in Health Science, and Media, Information and Technoculture, appear to have the capacity to attract more highly qualified students to Western.

Proposed Admissions Policy and Practice for 1998-99

  1. That a minimum general standard of 75% be set for OAC graduates (a similar standard should be applied to non-OAC applicants).

  2. That students in all first-entry programs meeting the minimum standard of admissions should be admitted unless the overall total is predicted to exceed 4250. If this expectation is expected to be exceeded, standards in individual programs should be adjusted upwards.

  3. The basis for admission to Music programs is the recommendation of the Faculty of Music which will assess each applicant through an audition, interview, and a music theory test; superior results in these assessments may offset a grade average of less than 75%.

  4. The Registrar, in consultation with the Office of the Deans, will consider the admission of students whose grades fall marginally below the minimum general standard and whose records provide evidence of exceptional promise. Such evidence might include:

  5. The Registrar will work with the Office of Institutional Planning and Budgeting to develop detailed records of student performance (e.g. first year grades, first year grade drop, required to withdraw, years to completion of degree). This data will be segregated for particular categories of students (e.g. OAC High Schools, Canadian Provinces, international students from different countries). In future years, these data will be used increasingly as supplementary information in considering student applications.

Long-Term Objectives

Consistent with the University's strategic plan, Leadership in Learning, Western's longer-term admission goals are to gradually increase the minimum general standard of admission for all first year entry programs and to increase the participation of out-of-province and international students in our undergraduate programs.