(March 7, 2002, Gazette)
to a fairly recent move, under the authority of the Senate, the Academic
Review Program (ARP) has been implemented to improve the quality of all
universities in Canada. Its main objectives, basically stated, are to:
a) Evaluate the quality, success, and role of the departments; b) Encourage
academic planning, innovation, and improvement of the university; c) Identify
opportunities for faculties; and d) Introduce MUN to the way programs
and faculties are run across Canada.
Inside these general objectives is a glimmer of hope and the answer to
a question Ive been searching for since I got out of high school:
this country, and more specifically this university, does actually care
about its students.
Im not sure what you heard when you came out of high school, but
I was told that no one would care that I exist when I got to university.
Teachers would have better things to do than help me succeed, you turn
into a number instead of a name, and theres a good chance youll
fail out if you dont dedicate your entire existence to your studies.
While it is true that university has been much harder than high school,
it hasnt exactly been the cryptic pit of hell I was warned about.
However, I have lost a lot of faith in the system since I got here. The
rec fee fiasco, the action rally of this year and the residual bitterness
from the faculty strike still linger in my mind. However, this program
proves there is hope.
It has been recognized that students have a say in our education. The
university is asking questions like, should we be teaching students just
to get a job, or is it more important to create individuals? Do students
know about employment opportunities? Do they think theyre wasting
their time here? I always wondered if the university asked itself these
kinds of questions.
The program introduces an interesting new hope for frustrated students
sick of taking courses they dont want to take. It shows us that
the university should be able to improve upon what it does. Its
not here just to take our money and give us a piece of paper. Though this
review only takes place every seven years, it does a fairly extensive
examination of MUNs teaching faculties. A group of four professors,
two from outside of the university and two from a different faculty inside
the university, go through a process of thorough review of the selected
faculty and submit a report, which examines the strengths and weaknesses
of the department. Students input is encouraged in the writing of
this report, and students should be notified of meetings during which
they can discuss what changes should take place. There has to be student
input in the review process. The whole process can be broken down into
three parts: self study, review, and follow up.
I may be the only one who is really relieved by the fact that this program
exists, but it should help raise the academic standards and quality of
this university. Almost every aspect of our academic programs is being
reviewed. Teachers, resources, student enrollment and interest, almost
anything you can name. Does this sound like the actions of an institution
that doesnt care about its students to you?
Im not sure how far reaching these changes go. From the looks of
the report, every discipline will be looked at in time. The best thing
to do is ask one of your professors. Hell, ask them if you can get involved
in the process if you really care about your education. Its your
future after all. Do you just want to sit there while some else decides
what you should be doing with it?