Students worry about future of University of Ottawa’s journalism program
Several students told J-Source they feel their program has been discredited since the University of Ottawa suspended admissions to the program for this fall and that it might affect their employment opportunities.
By Tamara Baluja, J-Source Associate Editor
Several students from the University of Ottawa’s joint journalism program with Algonquin College are worried about their future. They told J-Source they feel their program has been discredited since the university suspended admissions to the program for this fall following a critical senate report.
The university has chosen to restructure the program intends to resume admitting new students in 2014, the Ottawa Citizen reported. Although first-year students will not be admitted to the journalism program this fall, the rest of the program — which is linked to Algonquin College, in English, and La Cité collégiale, in French — will continue as normal.
A report to the university’s senate in May 2012 described the journalism program as “deeply troubled” and “nothing more than experiments.”
“They are poorly conceived and in so doing, damage the reputation of the University,” the report said.
Related content on J-Source:
- Enrolment in journalism programs increasing in a challenging media landscape
- Student internship opportunities shrinking across the country
- Live blog: Real-Time Content In Journalism School
“I feel the reputation of the program has been tarnished,” said Dali Carmichael, a student in her final year of the joint program, following the release of the report. “I hope it doesn’t affect our employment opportunities.”
Carmichael said while she thinks she got a valuable education, she’s worried future employers might not see it the same way. “The education I got, especially at Algonquin College, was excellent and I do feel like I learned a lot,” she said. “At U of O … it was very broad education and theoretical, but the leadership was lacking and I felt the administration wasn’t very approachable.”
Several students also told J-Source they felt university administrators did not know much about the program.
“It was very hard to navigate,” said Megan Delaire, who is entering her fifth year in the joint program. “Now at least everyone else is also realizing the administration was sloppy.”[node:ad]
The four-year partnership degree program consists of two years at University of Ottawa and two years with Algonquin College in English or La Cité collégiale in French.
Some students took courses in the summer semester, while other students like Delaire spread out the course work over an additional year in the program. “There was no consistency in how students moved through the program and I think that’s because administration didn’t know how it was supposed to be,” she said. “We feel like the program has failed us.”
The report to senate questioned if the program should even be maintained. “Given that Carleton University already dominates journalism in the region, and that both colleges offer programs, one must ask: Why is the University of Ottawa attempting to enter this space?”
In contrast, Delaire said the Algonquin College portion of the program has been informative and was well-executed. “The administration is tight and we haven’t had to guess what we are supposed to be doing,” she said. “I still feel like as long as we have a good portfolio, that matters more than where we studied.”
Rachel Aiello, another student in her final year, agreed that the Algonquin portion of the program was useful. “It made the first frustrating two years [at the University of Ottawa] worthwhile.”
Aiello said she would still recommend the program to future students, but would warn them they’re not likely to get support. “I think the idea to combine a university and college education has a lot of merit.”
In a statement released by Algonquin College, the administration said it “is supportive of the University’s review process and we expect that, moving forward, what is currently a good program will be made an even better program.” Meanwhile, La Cité collégiale told ProjetJ that it was informed of the decision to suspend admission to the joint program in February and it should not affect their current students.
The report to senate expressed doubts whether reform was possible. “Given that urgent integration problems with the colleges are 10-12 years old, and that the Faculty and Department concerned must have been aware of them for at least as long, why would anyone believe that a resolution is imminent, or indeed, even possible?”
University of Ottawa administrators refused interview requests from J-Source.