POLITICS

Teachers dispute prompts B.C. university to accept Grade 11 marks for admission

03/15/2012 01:37 EDT | Updated 05/15/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - The University of British Columbia says high school students who didn't get report cards because of the ongoing teachers' job action can use their marks from Grade 11 to apply for early admission.

Teachers have been refusing to perform administrative tasks such as filling out report cards since last September, and that has left some students worried they won't have marks to submit in time for their university applications.

The University of B.C.'s senate voted this week to allow students who don't yet know their current grades to rely on Grade 11 marks for early admission until their official marks are ready while other schools in the province and elsewhere say they can still manage without taking that step.

The university typically asks students to self-report marks based on their spring report cards, and those are used to determine the first round of enrolment offers in April.

"The policy passed by our senate is focused on our ability to make offers in that same time frame, in light of the fact that there will be some inconsistency in the availability of report cards for all students of the province or the availability of grades in general," said Michael Bluhm of UBC's admissions department.

Typically, the university receives more formal marks directly from the Education Ministry in May and they're used to admit the bulk of applicants.

Bluhm said the school had been assured those would be ready regardless of any job action from teachers.

The province passed back-to-work legislation late Thursday afternoon, which puts an end to the teachers' dispute and forces them to return to normal duties.

It will also prevent a repeat of the three-day walkout teachers staged last week, and sends the dispute to mediation.

Bluhm said he realizes some students step up their efforts in Grade 12 because they know those marks count towards university admissions, and he acknowledges some may be worried about the prospect of relying on their performance from the year before.

But he said any student who doesn't make the first round of early admissions will be considered using their updated Grade 12 grades when they are available in May.

"A lot of students are relying on their Grade 12 grades, and that won't change," he said.

"If they don't receive an offer in April on earlier (Grade 11) information, they'll still be considered in May on the same information we've always used."

So far, UBC appears to be the only school to make accommodations related to the teachers' strike.

The University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., both say they will be able to rely on the marks provided by the Education Ministry to determine which students are accepted.

"We're continuing with our normal process," said Kate Ross, the registrar at Simon Fraser University.

"We're finding that students for the most part, if they ask their teachers, they're getting their grades."

Universities elsewhere in Canada say they've been watching the teachers' strike, but that it hasn't affected their admissions processes yet. Carleton University, the University of Calgary, and the University of Toronto said they haven't taken any special measures because of the teachers' strike.