BCUT: BC University of Technology?

BCIT as uni photo

The British Columbia Institute of Technology might become a university
Photo courtesy of BCIT Flickr

After some students had problems getting into master’s degree programs with their BCIT certification, the institution is now looking at becoming an accredited university.

Barry Hogan, BCIT’s senior director of program development, says the idea has not been pitched externally but there is talk of the institution’s need to make some changes when it comes to program recognition across the country and internationally — or becoming a university.

Hogan told The Link that when BCIT started in 1964 and likely through most of the 1980s, most of the graduates stayed in the Lower Mainland, which is not the case anymore according to Hogan.

“Now everyone is more mobile and we’ve got graduates that are moving around and students that didn’t finish here want to apply their credits somewhere else,” said Hogan.

Paul Dangerfield, BCIT’s vice president of education, said the talks of BCIT becoming a university came up during discussion of the 2014 to 2019 strategic plan.

Dangerfield said the idea was brought up informally over a decade ago.

“It’s one of those topics that have been chatted about over the last probably 10 or 15 years at BCIT as other colleges become universities,” said Dangerfield.

Hogan said when BCIT was given degree-granting status in 1994, the only degree the institution was allowed to issue was a Bachelor of Technology (B-Tech).

[pullquote]The idea was brought up informally over a decade ago.[/pullquote]

“We keep getting trapped by one of three buckets: we are not a university, we are not a part of the Association of Universities and Colleges Canada and people wondering, ‘What the heck is a B-Tech?'” reported Dangerfield.

The Association of Universities and Colleges Canada (AUCC) is an organization that represents Canada’s colleges and universities.

There is no national accreditation in Canada, so one province may not necessarily know another province’s policies around accreditation, Hogan told The Link, and as a result of this lack of national accreditation, there are a few things that institutions tend to default to.

“One is that if you’re a university, you must be better and if you’re a member of the AUCC,” said Hogan. “So, we’re getting the short end of the stick.”

Electrical engineering and technology student Harjinder Kandola told The Link that BCIT becoming a university would help eliminate problems students face trying to transfer their BCIT credits to other institutions.

“As far as the student perspective goes, I think it would be a really good idea – more so if it were to get recognition and accreditation from the government,” said Kandola.

Kandola said he has not run into any problems personally but because he is in a diploma program, he has looked into the idea of transferring into a degree program at other institutions.

Kandola realized he would have to take at least a semester of bridging courses in order to transfer to a degree program at some other post-secondary institutions.

“That’s another semester or two down the drain and that’s kind of discouraging to say the least,” said Kandola.

“If BCIT was a university I think the transition to a degree program would be more straight forward rather than taking a bridging program which kind of defeats the purpose of transferring in the first place.”

Dangerfield said the institutions governance structure would not change if it were to become a university.

“In our preliminary examination of this process, it appears BCIT would not have to change our current governance structure,” said Dangerfield. “We think that our governance would stay the same.”

As for the name of the institution, it is not mandatory for it to change to BC University of Technology, or something to represent that it has changed to a university.

Hogan said a name change is not appealing to the community because of the brand equity of the BCIT name.

The research is still in the very early stages, but Hogan speculates if BCIT does in fact become a university, it would be about a three year process.

Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she's not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.

neetu@linknewspaper.ca

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