As we start to look towards a new normal this Fall (read the BC restart plan here released on May 25th), UFV’s approach to achieving our vision of being a gathering place for learners, leaders and seekers and the ways in which we engage learners, transform lives, and build communities is starting to become clearer. There is renewed optimism with the development and delivery of highly effective vaccines that have significantly reduced the number of cases and several illnesses due to COVID-19 in Canada. At the time of writing, over 60% of eligible British Columbians have received at least one vaccination. With guidance and support from British Columbia’s top physician, Dr. Bonnie Henry, post-secondary institutions have been given the green light to safely welcome back more people onto our campuses this fall. She and Dr. Gustafson – head of the BC Centre for Disease Control – recently held a Q & A session on the science and research informing their guidance for this plan.
Since the middle of March, academic and administrative units across UFV and the Office of the Registrar have been planning for the Fall of 2021. They have had to plan during BC’s third wave, consider possible changes to student demographics (e.g., number of domestic students, international students, mature students, etc.), trust scientific forecasts predicting a dramatic decline in COVID-19 this fall, and consider the most effective pedagogical methods to deliver each course. This is a monumental task in the best of years, let alone one year into a global pandemic. My sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to each and every Department Head and Director who have worked with their colleagues and their Deans to create a schedule that captures all we have learned over the past 14 months and opens new opportunities and pathways for students to access courses in ways they previously could not.
With the timetable scheduled to be released on Monday, May 31 and registration open on June 15, UFV’s Fall 2021 is shaping up to be one filled with excitement and opportunities. The following is a tentative breakdown of the delivery methods to be used for courses at UFV in September:
- Face to face = 43%
- Hybrid (at least 25% online/ 25% face to face) = 26%
- Online = 31%
This schedule will offer our students even more access to our academic programming. It takes the best from what we have learned throughout the pandemic regarding the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning, while safely reintroducing applied forms of learning in the classroom that UFV has excelled at for decades.
While the pandemic has caused untold suffering around the world, it has also caused us to reflect upon how we can best support our students, each other, and our communities through the largest global disruption to hit education in recent memory. Throughout the pandemic, UFV’s doors remained open to our students. You showed the world that we could respond quickly (yes, universities can move quickly when we need to!) by embracing innovative and creative ways to ensure our students could continue with their academic journey – watch the UFV video Resilience to see some of these ways. While many students have told us through structured consultations and surveys that they miss the personal academic and social connections with their instructors and their peers respectively, they have also told us that they value the flexibility and the access online learning provides.
As part of community consultations facilitated by third parties, the McConnell Foundation and Domain 7, we also heard from those across the Fraser Valley who told us that access to UFV’s programs was never more important to help “build back better” from the pandemic. Opportunities to “up-skill” and “re-skill” in BC’s post-pandemic economy were themes we heard loud and clear from members of the communities in which we serve. Community leaders identified opportunities such as work-integrated learning, student and faculty research projects, problem-based learning opportunities, and targeted academic programming as being critical for rapid recovery and continued development for the Fraser Valley.
UFV’s “new normal” this Fall is filled with opportunities and a continued commitment to pursuing “… diverse pathways of scholarship, leading to community connection, reconciliation, and prosperity, locally and beyond.”
Thank you for all you are doing to make this Fall at UFV productive, memorable, and healthy.
James Mandigo, PhD
Provost and VP Academic