Senate Summed Up: Senators discuss unclassified students, hear about 2021/22 research

The UBC Vancouver Senate met for the first time in 2023 Wednesday night to vote on amended requirements for unclassified students and hear a presentation on the university’s 2021/22 research achievements.

Here is what you might have missed.

Changes coming to unclassified student continuation requirements

Senators approved changes to continuation requirements for unclassified students, which passed following a short discussion.

The changes — which were brought forward by Faculty Senator Kin Lo, chair of the Academic Policy Committee — added a sentence to the current requirements that states continuation is “normally” contingent on unclassified students maintaining at least a 50 per cent average during the winter session.

The change is intended to address students repeatedly failing courses over several years and hold them to similar standards as students in a degree program.

Faculty Senators Santokh Singh and Anubhav Pratap-Singh voiced concern that the updated language would limit unclassified students.

Pratap-Singh said this new policy could “close doors” for unclassified students who might face challenges when trying to complete a course.

Singh asked if students who are not able to complete the continuation requirements due to individual challenges would be barred from taking more classes in future terms.

Dr. Laura Moss, the associate dean of arts, said the word ‘normally’ was included in the proposed changes to allow for exceptions. She added that students can appeal to the non-degree studies program if they are prevented from continuing their studies.

Student Senator Emmanuel Cantiller asked if students who failed a course could retake it in a later term.

Moss said students could talk to the non-degree studies program if this occurred.

Research, research, research

Senators also heard a report from VP Research and Innovation Gail Murphy on her office’s work through the 2021/22 academic year.

According to the report, $773.7 million was raised in research funding over the academic year, supporting over 10,000 research projects.

Murphy described her office’s role as creating a favourable environment for research with “as few barriers as possible,” and outlined the office’s key initiatives on research collaboration, culture and funding.

One research collaboration highlight was a 2021 virtual climate change research symposium, which garnered over 600 participants.

Murphy also mentioned her office’s engagement with Indigenous partners, noting the release of UBC’s Indigenous finance guidelines and the signing of an MOU between UBC and the ​​Tŝilhqot’in Nation to ensure research is undertaken with “cultural safety.”

She said some key focuses for this year were reviewing UBC’s collaborative research clusters, enhancing student research support, and seeking improved government funding.

Several senators praised her office’s work, with Provost and VP Academic Gage Averill noting the wide swath of research initiatives they support.

“Anyone from commerce, education, arts, will tell you these offices tend to be focused, almost monochromatic, on those disciplines,” Averill said.

“We see your attention to things like public humanities, to Indigenous research, student research, and you can see a very broad coverage of the work of the office.”