As schools across the pro-vince scramble to find spaces to admit qualified applicants, the University of Calgary is making space for high school students with lower grades.
At his annual report to the community, president Dr. Harvey Weingarten announced the U of C plans to allot 1,000 spaces at the proposed urban campus to "gateway students" with lower grades who might not otherwise make it into university.
"There are students with marks in the 74 to 76 per cent range--some higher--that aren't getting into university," explained U of C vice-president external relations Roman Cooney.
The new downtown campus will reserve 1,000 of its 2,500 spaces for students like these who are smart enough to succeed at university, but may not have the academic marks in high school required for admission, said Cooney, adding that some professional programs, such as nursing and medicine, will not be open to students with lower grades.
The new spaces will not take away from spots currently reserved for students with higher marks, assured Cooney, rather they will increase access for all students.
"We're not going to change the policy for admission as a whole, that part of the urban campus is a separate thing," said Cooney.
Cooney said he does not believe the 1,000 spaces for students with lower averages will discourage high school students from applying themselves to their studies.
Students' Union vice-president academic Shannon O'Connor said she can understand why some students are upset with the announcement.
"It's always a touchy issue when you set aside spaces for some students over others," said O'Connor.
However, O'Connor believes that with an overall increase in spaces, the new spaces will benefit more students, without deterring the access of others. She also said it is positive that the university realizes grades shouldn't be the only factor determining admissions.
"I've seen it personally when students in high school are young and not quite at the maturity level necessary for post-secondary education," said O'Connor. "Hopefully by 18 or 19 they are mature enough to excel. There are many great leaders now who maybe did not excel in high school."
Weingarten also announced in his address that the U of C is now seeking requests for proposals for the $235 million urban campus project.
The urban campus is a joint project between the U of C, the Calgary Board of Education, Bow Valley College, SAIT, Athabasca University and the University of Lethbridge. Though funding for the project has not yet been approved, the proposed location is behind City Hall.