Senate Summed Up: Senators approve new programs and discuss inter-university mobility agreements

At the last meeting of the UBC Vancouver Senate's three-year term, senators approved spring graduations, discussed mobility agreements, introduced new academic programs and reviewed the Triennial Review Report.

Here’s what you might’ve missed.

It’s official: UBC Class of 2023

Senate formally approved the degrees and diplomas for students graduating in May 2023. Graduations will begin on Friday, May 26, 2023 and end Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Inter-university mobility agreements may soon have unified policy

In the past year, 21 student-mobility agreements between UBC and other institutions worldwide have been approved. These agreements allow students to participate in exchanges and research at other institutions. Previous Senate discussions have scrutinized international agreements due to concerns about a lack of academic freedom or ongoing political events in certain countries.

Senator Steven Pelech said there is a lack of consistent procedure in the process of forging agreements “with foreign universities that are in countries where there are human rights abuses.”

Pelech questioned if a consistent policy will be implemented in the future.

Provost Gage Averill said “there is currently no policy and there hasn't been [one].” Averill noted there is an ongoing consultation process led by the office of the Vice-Provost, International that should produce a report in September 2023.

Averill said a policy could be put forward to Senate “by spring at the latest.”

New academic programs

UBC will offer four new degrees in the coming years. A PhD in design, technology and society, a post-baccalaureate certificate in mechanical engineering, a graduate certificate in applied geological engineering and an undergraduate certificate in data and models in political science.

The doctoral program will commence in 2024W, the post-baccalaureate certificate will begin in 2023S and the graduate and undergraduate certificates will be effective starting in 2023W.

New programs within existing degrees were also announced.

In the Faculty of Applied Science, an option in naval architecture and marine was approved for students in the department of mechanical engineering.

In the Faculty of Science, a new major in cellular, anatomical, physiology sciences (CAPS) will now co-exist with the existing CAPS honours program. Enrollment in CAPS will now have a maximum of 120 students per year.

In the Faculty of Arts, a minor in writing and communication was also approved for students seeking bachelor of Arts.

Report recommends external review, further training for Senators

The Nominating Committee shared their end of triennium report. The report recommended an external review and further training for Senators.

An external review has not been done since 2005.

"We like to think that we do a good job at Senate but without some outside eyes and ideas we'll not know whether we're doing the best we could," said Paul Harrison. "There are a large number of issues that are too big for a triennial review to undertake."

The motion carried.

A motion to include further training and orientation of future senators was among the recommendations. The motion proposed a section to create a volunteer mentorship program for prospective senators.

While Senators were in consensus on the need to encourage broader participation in Senate affairs, questions on its feasibility and potential concerns of favouritism were raised.

Anubhav Pratap-Singh noted it could create “a blockade or some kind of favoritism scenario where you have to be trained by the mentors in order to be a senator.”

Opinions on the volunteer mentorship program were divided, but the motion still carried.