University of Saskatchewan changes Open Studies to better serve students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 5, 2013 SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan is making significant changes to its Open Studies admissions category to ensure the best possible outcome for students registered under its banner.

Gordon DesBrisay, associate dean of student affairs in the College of Arts and Science, said Open Studies was the academic home last year of about 500 students who fall into two distinct groups 1) explorer or casual students, part-time learners who wish to take classes at the U of S without committing to a degree program; and 2) academically at risk college students who are required to discontinue (RTD) because of low marks. A proposal approved by University Council would see Open Studies disestablished and responsibility for both groups transferred to individual colleges.
"A key message here is that we're not in any way backing away from part-time students," said DesBrisay. "It's our historic mission to be accessible to the people of Saskatchewan ... and we want to promote the option of part-time study at an institutional level. But our research shows that Open Studies is an unproductive option for RTD students who, instead of leaving the university, continue to take classes and struggle to improve their marks without supports like academic advising that are in place in our colleges."
The change, which still requires approval of University Senate in October and the Board of Governors in December, would see Open Studies continue as an admission category for casual students but administrative responsibility for that cohort would devolve to the colleges. Casual students would then have full access to college support services currently unavailable to them in Open Studies, DesBrisay explained.
For RTD students, continuing full-time study through Open Studies would no longer be an option, he said. Instead, colleges would be responsible for identifying at-risk students "and helping them stay and succeed, or helping them leave with a plan to return."
For more information, contact:
Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
Advancement and Community Engagement
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