The University of Ottawa won’t welcome a new crop of journalism students this fall as its program remains under review for a second year. Education editor Melanie Coulson reports.

By Melanie Coulson, Education Editor

The University of Ottawa won’t be welcoming a new crop of journalism students through its doors this fall as its program remains under review for a second year.

The bachelor of arts degree program remains in limbo as the department of communications and the faculty of arts decide what to do next. After a decision has been made, a proposal will be presented to the university senate, Evan Potter, associate professor and head of the program, told J-Source in an email.

Potter noted that all undergraduate programs are reviewed every seven years. A 2012 report to the university senate called the uOttawa journalism program “deeply troubled” and “nothing more than experiments.”

Related content on J-Source:

“They are poorly conceived and in so doing, damage the reputation of the University,” the report said, and suggested the program be cancelled. When the program was suspended in August, Potter told the uOttawa student publication, The Fulcrum, that the department agreed to introduce more journalism-specific courses that would “increase group cohesion.” 

The uOttawa program admitted as many as 35 students each year in a partnership with Algonquin College or La Cite Collegiale. As part of the program, students spend the first two years of their degree at uOttawa and the last two years at college. “Students who are currently registered in the program will continue their studies and, once they have completed the required credits, they will receive their journalism degrees,” Potter said.

Michael Robinson is currently at Algonquin College in the second half of his bachelor of arts in journalism program and he is due to graduate this spring. While he said he feels the university-college program is a better fit and makes him more competitive when it comes to getting a job, he said his courses at uOttawa were mostly communications theory.

“They were typical university courses, nothing special. I was fine with this because the college experience has compensated the lack of journo courses at uOttawa. In fact, I like it this way because I have an advantage over my peers who just go the college route due to the research skills that university taught me,” he said.

When he heard the program was on hiatus for a second year, Robinson said he was surprised and disappointed.

“The program isn’t flawed. In principle, it works great. However, the university’s administration side of things needs to be rectified. I think a lot of the issues have to do with academic advisory side of things, there needs to be more guidance at the university level due to the special requirements of course sequences and course availability.”

Related content on J-Source:

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.