Two years after suspending its journalism program, the university began accepting applications to its joint program with Algonquin College and La Cité in September 2014.

[[{“fid”:”3994″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“height”:”427″,”width”:”640″,”style”:”width: 300px; height: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;”,”class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]By Chantal Braganza, Associate Editor

This fall, the University of Ottawa will begin classes for its Honours Bachelor of Arts in Digital Journalism program—an overhaul of its previous degree, which the school suspended in August 2013 after departmental concerns about the program’s structure and administration.

At the time, as both J-Source and The Fulcrum reported, admission of new students to the joint program with Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale ceased as the department set to re-working the five-semester program that a 2012 report to the university’s senate had called “deeply troubled.” 

“Very few at the Faculty of Arts (including the academic support staff) seem to understand how students evolve through the programs,” the report read

After postponing its expected 2014 launch to 2015, the school announced its plans for a new, digitally focused program that began accepting applications last September.

“We’ve had over 100 applications,” said Andrew Taylor, vice-dean of undergraduate studies at the university. About 25 students will be accepted through the program this way; for the joint program, students may either complete course work at the University of Ottawa first, or start with their diploma at Algonquin College or La Cité. 

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“A lot of students got lost just as being a small group in a big department,” Taylor said of the previous program. “Communications is a big department.” One change to address this included the creation of a part-time co-ordinator assigned specifically to U of O journalism students to plan program-specific events and provide academic guidance both during the semesters at the university and during the transition to and from either Algonquin or La Cité.

In terms of course offerings, Taylor said, the new program is geared towards journalism craft, skills and theory—particularly in the digital space. “The major concern with the old program was that there weren’t enough specific courses in it. If you were there in a communications course, there was no way to differentiate between the programs.” According to Taylor, this sometimes resulted in students switching from a journalism major to the Department of Communications’ other programs in communications and public relations. 

According to Taylor, 13 students are currently enrolled in the university’s previous iteration of the journalism program, having transferred over after completing diplomas at either Algonquin and Cité. 

According to journalism program co-ordinator Joe Banks, Algonquin College, which has continued to operate as before, won’t see students of the new U of O program till 2017. 

Photo by MDV, via Flickr.