Citing a projected deficit of $314,000 in this year’s arts budget, the U of A has proposed cuts to English course requirements. Currently all students must complete the equivalent of a first year English course, regardless of program. The U of A says it no longer can fund this standard and is planning to scale it back to a half-year English course for all except English major students. These courses are taught primarily by sessional instructors, usually graduate students.
Many are very concerned with this proposal, suggesting that it will downgrade the quality of the degrees offered. Critics note that, regardless of major, all students require strong communication skills in order to succeed in today’s competitive workplace. They argue that it makes “no sense to be graduating engineers who are not capable of reading and writing” (Johnsrude, 2005). Others feel an English course is irrelevant to a student who needs to write lab reports or psychology papers, suggesting that there are other ways to learn writing fundamentals.
The U of A claims they are already unique in requiring a full English course, stating that most Canadian universities have already eliminated the mandatory full-year English. At Athabasca University, a first year English course is no longer required for most degrees.
Johnsrude, L. (2005). U of A considers cutting English requirement in half: Budget deficit could mean first-year students need only half-year course. Edmonton Journal, January 3, 2005.