The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM)’s Academic Affairs Committee held their first meeting of 2020 last Monday in the William G. Davis building’s Council Chamber. The agenda, though rather light, featured some interesting topics surrounding the academic experience here at UTM, both for future students and current students alike.

The meeting began with a presentation by Lorretta Neebar, registrar and director of Enrolment Management, where enrolment statistics gathered by her team provided a clear picture of current and future enrolment trends.

Though the figures are tentative until later on this year, overall trends show that enrolment for the 2019-2020 academic year were at an all-time high, with over 15,000 students. Of this intake, about 4,013 students were incoming first years. About 29 per cent of these first years are international students, which is down from 2018-2019’s 33 per cent intake of international first-years.

Consistent with previous years, more and more students are choosing to study Computational Science, Mathematics, and Statistics at UTM. In the 2019-2020 incoming class, 17.1 per cent of first years chose the Computational Science discipline—making it the second-highest discipline choice after Social Sciences (19.2 per cent).

Neebar noted that this trend has been rising in the last five years and as a result it is estimated that UTM’s computer science department will continue to grow in the coming years to cope with such a demand.

In terms of the alteration and closure of programs offered at UTM, two were put up to the vote for the council: the Diploma in Investigative & Forensic Accounting [commonly referred to by its acronym DIFA] and the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media.

In the case of the Diploma in Investigative & Forensic Accounting, Professor Len Brooks presented the case for closing the program by the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, noting industry pressures motivating those in the field to pursue a master’s degree instead.

Professor Brooks noted the success of the Master of Forensic Accounting Program—launched in 2017 as a successor to DIFA—in preparing students to enter higher-level positions in downtown firms.

Moreover, Professor Rhonda McEwen presented the case to the Council for the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media, citing student feedback that the Specialist degree did not offer the sort of hands-on experience that they had hoped to gain in the Specialist prerequisites.

The Specialist in Interactive Digital Media, as Professor McEwen noted, only has two remaining students within it, so the effects of a possible closure would be marginal.

The Council voted resoundingly to permanently phase out both the DIFA and the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media in the coming years.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Professor Heather Miller regarding minor changes to the curricula in the disciplines of the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences.

Included in these changes are some exciting new course propositions with dozens of new additions to the aforementioned faculties.

Moreover, slight modifications and a few prerequisite courses were introduced like the brand-new first year courses designed to hone in students’ reading and writing skills in preparation for upper-year courses. These first year reading and writing courses are in the works for majors and specialists across a vast range of degrees under the humanities and social sciences umbrella.

These propositions were also approved overwhelmingly by the Council, albeit with one abstention.

The next UTM Academic Affairs Committee meeting is on February 11 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber.

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