Students voice concerns with number of cancelled courses, UBC says cancellations 'not uncommon'

Students on social media voiced concerns around cancelled courses this term, although UBC says it is not aware of a significant increase in the number of courses cancelled this year compared to last year.

The Ubyssey previously reported on student frustrations in response to course cancellation and unavailability in the computer science department. Numerous students have since said on social media that they had faced similar difficulties in their own departments.

Despite social media comments, stats do not appear to show a school-wide staffing shortage. According to UBC’s website and public database Pair, there are approximately 19,000 instructors with no substantial changes from previous years. Staff numbers for staff for 2022/23 are expected to be available this November.

In response to inquiries regarding departmental staffing difficulties and course cancellations, Thandi Fletcher, a senior media strategist for UBC Media Relations, said in an email that the Provost Office was not aware of any significant staffing shortages or number of courses being cancelled.

“Sometimes, courses are cancelled for a variety of reasons, and while course cancellations are not uncommon, and are a reality every year, we understand that this can be frustrating for students,” she wrote.

Students in cancelled courses have expressed frustration with their circumstances.

Kimberly Eng, a fourth-year sociology student, had enrolled in the course SOCI 324: Sociology of the Life, but it was later cancelled due to lacking a suitable instructor.

Eng said the cancellation was alarming and distressing, as she needed the course to obtain her minor in family studies. While the department managed to offer SOCI 324 in term two, she said she was unable to fit it into her schedule, and had to directly petition department advisors to place her in other courses that were full.

“I hate to say what I did but I kind of just came at them in the email … like 'You need to put me in this, I need to do this, I need to do this, I need to graduate' and just waiting for a response,” she said. “But my friend who was signed up for the course with me, she did not get any support … she now has to drop another class for this term to fit in the online one that they gave.”

In response to course cancellations, some students are organizing to teach each other relevant material.

Markus de Medeiros, a fifth-year computer science student, recently started an undergraduate-led course to teach students programming language skills from the cancelled CPSC 311 course. Using teaching resources from a similar course offered at Brown University in 2012, de Medeiros and his peers started the initiative in the hopes of helping interested students learn the material in their own time.

While the computer science department has since made efforts to accommodate students who had been enrolled in 311, de Medeiros said students were still interested in learning the material for various reasons.

“People in general are really excited. This is, I think, partly due to the fact that 411, the course that usually has 311 as a prerequisite, is still being offered,” he said.“There’s a lot of people who still want to learn this stuff to prepare for the compilers course.”