Langara’s departments struggle to fill programs

A smaller pool of prospective students means department chairs need to ramp up recruitment efforts

Stephanie Aitken, fine arts department chair, holds an information session for prospective students on March 6, 2019. Photo: Chelsea Liu
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Reported by Chelsea Liu

Some department chairs at Langara are feeling increased pressure to fill seats in their programs, because a smaller pool of potential applicants means greater competition for prospective students.

“The sheer number of domestic students is declining,” said Tomo Tanaka, former creative arts and industries division chair from 2010 to 2018. “You’re going to have a smaller number of people to choose from.”

Universities like UBC and SFU can adjust their entrance requirements to admit as many people as they have space for and fill their programs, which cuts into Langara’s pool of applicants, Tanaka said.

He also said department chairs in creative arts and industries take on a lot of responsibility for recruitment because the programs are so specialized.

“You have theatre arts, photography and film. We have very diverse recruiting needs so department chairs do a lot of targeted marketing and recruitment strategies,” Tanaka said.

A recruitment officer for creative arts ‘the ultimate goal’

Colin Mills, department chair of geography and geology, said his departments are feeling the change.

“We used to have full classes with waiting lists. That doesn’t seem to exist anymore,” he said.

Mills said the department usually gets enough students through the college’s general recruitment, but they may have to consider ramping up recruitment efforts in the future.

Department chairs are paid an extra $2,557.97 per year on top of a full-time salary to teach three-quarters of what’s considered full-time hours and perform extra duties, such as hiring faculty and recruiting students. Department chairs also work roughly two months during the summer to prepare for the coming year.

“It would be nice to have a recruitment officer for just creative arts,” Tanaka said. “That would be the ultimate goal.”

Rey Buenaventura, associate registrar at Langara enrolment services said there is a serious problem if a program runs at a low percentage for multiple years. In that case, the college works on recruitment strategies with department chairs.

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