Founded in 2014, the dual degree program between Sciences Po Paris and UBC Sauder School of Business has now been cancelled. Its last cohort of students is expected to enter in fall 2017, and the first cohort just arrived at UBC last year.
According to Dr. Kin Lo, Sauder's senior associate dean of students, the main reason is the “incompatibility” between Sauder's requirements and students' level of progress and maturity. This problem arises from how the degree is structured.
The dual program allows students to get a bachelor degree in both arts and commerce in just four years, with the first two years spent in France and the second half at UBC. To catch up with their peers in the business school, the program's third year students are required to take foundational and breadth courses that are dominated by first and second year students.
As a result, most have found the transition to be difficult.
“It was kind of like I went through first and second year in France and came back and had to go through first year all over again,” said Rebecca Wang, a third year student who is part of the first cohort. “I had to take a lot of 200-level courses, lots of big lectures and very kind of rudimentary things … I felt like third year was especially rushed for me ... and it was quite demanding when there were finals and we had no breather.”
When asked if the program could be modified to save it, Lo responded that that process would be “very difficult.”
“Our commerce program requires students to have the breadth of knowledge [in] human resources, logistics, management and engagement systems, accounting, finance,” said Lo. “It is part of our bachelor of commerce, and we couldn’t change the overall structure of that program, which has close to a thousand students per year, in order to meet the needs of the small cohort of dual degree students.”
A third year student who is also part of the first cohort, Anjali Bhatt agrees despite feeling “kind of weird” about having a then-complicated and now non-existent program on her resume.
“There are only four of us in Sauder,” said Bhatt. “I think it was a good move overall because it would have required a lot of effort to restructure the program in the way that the students wanted. I think that UBC does not have the time or the resources to invest in the program so I think cancelling it is the best option to go.”
Moving forward, Lo noted that UBC and Sciences Po will maintain the bachelor of arts dual degree program since it is larger and more streamlined. He also offered a reassurance of quality for students in the program.
“The students who are in the program and who are starting the program in the fall will be able to continue the program still,” said Lo. “We are not leaving them out in the cold so there's no issue there for students who are in the program.”