By Вen Li
Students vying for scholarships may soon face a different set of challenges. The Academic Awards Committee of the General Faculties Council decided to recommend to the University of Calgary Board of Governors that students taking eight half courses per year should be eligible for scholarships, down from nine.
"Since students were taking on average 5.2 years to complete a degree, it would benefit most students if they did this," said committee member and Students’ Union External Commissioner Jim Bailey. "This affects every single award offered by the awards committee."
"Students who take a few less courses are the ones in dire need of scholarships," said su Vice-President Academic Jayna Gilchrist. "This will reach out to more disadvantaged students."
Reducing course requirements for award eligibility was one of two related proposals brought by the Students’ Academic Assembly last year. The other proposal, to include spring and summer session courses in determining eligibility, was not included in the recommendation.
"As it stands, [in 2001] the Students’ Academic Assembly decided it was best to include spring and summer courses," said Gilchrist. "You’re a full time student whether it’s during fall and winter or spring and summer."
Bailey said that the committee’s recommendation not to consider spring and summer grades in the gpa was based on research.
"We didn’t decide to include spring and summer grades because we didn’t think it would be a benefit to students," said Bailey. "When we looked at the top three grade percentile, if we included spring and summer grades, a lot of gpas would go down."
Because more students will be made eligible for scholarships under the new rules, scholarships will become more difficult for individual students to obtain.
"Requirements for some awards will increase in terms of gpa," said Bailey. "Students getting awards with nine or ten courses now may not get them with eight courses."
Gilchrist welcomes the lower course load requirement for scholarships but said more should be done to increase accessibility.
"These students are working and having to pay increased tuition costs," said Gilchrist. "Scholarships don’t really cover the increases. They’re insufficient to cover the real needs of students."
According to Gilchrist, saa will continue to persuade the committee to consider including spring and summer grades.
The committee’s recommendation will come before the Board of Governors on March 21 for approval. In the meantime, Bailey stated that technical changes would be needed to accommodate the new criteria.
The SAA will discuss the matter at their March 10 meeting in Council Chambers. Interested students may attend both meetings.