UPDATE 5:15 P.M.
UBCO Dean of Management Dr. Roger Sugden did return Castanet's call late Tuesday. Castanet will provide the full story on the University's position Wednesday morning.
It was a shock to students hoping to graduate with a degree the traditional way from UBC Okanagan.
At 2:30 p.m on the last day of classes UBCO Faculty of Management students were told, with no warning, that three critical fourth year accounting courses were being cut from next years curriculum.
By 4:30 p.m. a special meeting was held with the Dean of Management to answer student questions.
Ten minutes later he stormed out.
About 100 Faculty of Management students crammed a room waiting for answers from the Dean. Students had invited media and parents to sit in.
However, when it was brought to the Dean of Management Dr. Roger Sugden's attention that two parents, and two reporters (one from Castanet and one from UBCO's The Phoenix) were in the room he stopped talking - refusing to hold the meeting if anyone other than current students were in the room. The response he got was anger.
“Why does it matter?” said Jesse Shopa, a fourth year accounting student. “The lack of transparency is astounding right now. If you’re such a proponent of this move you should be able to support it in a public forum.”
“You sprung this on us during the last class of the year and now you finally have a forum and you won't let people who are going to spread this information to the community be there?” said one angry student.
“You're embarrassing Roger,” said another, “This is so embarrassing for the school.”
“Imagine how this is going to look to all the stakeholders in our community,” yelled one more as Sugden walked out of the room.
As he was leaving Sugden said, “I am ending the meeting because I don't want the press in this meeting okay. I am ending the meeting.”
The unexpected announcement Monday afternoon to around 200 Faculty of Management students stated three courses, imperative for a CPA designation (Chartered Professional Accountants), were being removed from the class list and would have to be taken at other institutions.
The cut was explained to students as being due to 'scarce resources.' Sugden also said in the earlier meeting to students that they had lost a key Faculty member in the accounting program and would continue to lose faculty members.
“The way it sits right now is that students, in order to still get their CPA prerequisites (Chartered Professional Accountant) designation, will now have to take those classes online or through a different institution, still getting credit for them with UBCO,” explained Management Student Association President Scott Courtney.
This change could mean for some students an extra semester or two, and more tuition money they cannot necessarily afford.
“Students coming to UBCO anticipate graduating specializing in accounting, and now they are finishing their third year and finding out they may not be able to the way they thought. It is inconvenient for them,” explained Management Student Association Vice President Corporate Relations, Claire Gontard.
“They are worried they will have to graduate later than expected, so not in April 2015, because they will have to take more courses. A lot of them do not want to have to take online courses because it is a teaching method that doesn't necessarily fit most students. They are just worried they are going to have to allocate more costs and funds because of this announcement and they are frustrated.”
Resource issues are cited as the main reason for the class cuts but students say that answer is not good enough. This particular program is too critical and these third year students have invested too much.
“The students expect more process for something of this magnitude and especially for such an affect to a program of this importance to our faculty. It is one of the cornerstones here and people are attached to it,” explained Management Student Association Vice President of Finance Simon Bullock.
“It is a point of pride here in this faculty and to sort of cut it down, with zero notice, on the last day of classes is not going over well.
The elected leaders of the Management Student Association are now focusing on getting those answers for their students, noting that it is this lack of information that is stirring up the anger and fears.
“With what we have now it seems there is a lot of uncertainty and that makes people anxious. I think that is why there is a large student body that cares about this issue. Not only do they have friends affected but they themselves have their degrees in uncertainty, if accounting can go, finance can go... that is the feeling,” said Bullock.
“When it comes down to it, I think it is that the students are just frustrated that they do not have enough information to make an educated decision or opinion on what this is actually going to cause for them.
All the students want right now is answers, they want to know how it is going to affect them. I think if those questions can be answered then everything can move on,” said Courtney.
There are just over 830 Faculty of Management students, 230 or so going into fourth year this fall. Up to 70 of those students may have chosen the accounting designation and will be directly affected by this change.
Information sessions are being offered again on April 8, 9, and 10, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., on the fourth floor of EME building.
The Dean stated that neither press nor parents were welcome in those sessions either.