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Camosun axes communications program

Nov 08 2012

Camosun College has scrapped a popular communications program that trained students for careers in radio, television, public relations and publishing.

The applied communication program had been in limbo since April when the college suspended admissions in a budget-cutting move.

That decision sparked protests and prompted students to take over the campus radio station.

The college held talks on the issue before the board of governors voted this week to cancel the program completely.

The program had already stopped admitting new students, and the remaining second-year class will finish the year to become the last graduates of the 40-year-old program.

"I think the reasons are the same as when it was suspended back in the springtime," said Joan Yates, Camosun's communications director. "It was about budget."

The program also required major updates, she said.

The communications program was one of several hit by deep cuts when the college revealed plans in April to trim more than 40 jobs to balance its $104-million budget.

Camosun president Kathryn Laurin said at the time that the college was facing a $2.5-million shortfall largely because the B.C. government had failed to provide money to cover rising costs.

The Camosun College Faculty Association asked the college this week to delay cancelling the applied communication program to allow for further discussions, said president Kelly Pitman.

The association felt the consultation process was flawed and abrupt, but the board rejected the union's request, she said.

"There's a lot of confusion, because people were aware that the employees had submitted a plan to deliver a leaner, meaner program and they never received a formal response to that proposal," Pitman said. "So there was a sense that it was still up in the air."

Two employees have already left the college as a result of the program's suspension, and two others face losing their jobs at the end of April unless the program is replaced, she said.

Yates said plans to create a new digital media program remain under consideration.

"It is part of our education plan and it is still in that hopper being considered along with other new programs," she said.

"There's not a definite yes, but ... we still have it on the horizon."

The decision to scrap the applied communication program was a difficult one for the college, Yates said.

"This was not one done lightly and it still deeply affects people," she said. "Nobody's happy about this."

lkines@timescolonist.com

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