Nov. 4 — Expanded access

Each Monday, as part of our wide consultations as we prepare to develop a Strategic Plan, we pose a challenge to the campus: What If?

Last week, we asked you What If BU could expand non-traditional access for students? What forms of programming would be valuable for us to offer? What new types of students might we attract? What credentials would be appropriate to offer? How would this affect our current degrees?

Many people submitted extensive and well thought-through answers. There is clear support for expanding access to education, for making it easier for people to attend classes, and for recognizing the learning that people do, even if it isn’t part of a complete degree.

Commonly, it was suggested that we target certificates or other recognition for completing packages of related courses, perhaps by leveraging our existing major and minor designations. Many felt that there would be keen interest from the business and professional communities, whether they are looking for new skills, skill upgrades, or other professional development opportunities. Others thought that courses in personal interest or cultural development would be attractive to a wide audience, including language courses and Fine Arts courses.

Many suggested also expanding the way we offer courses themselves, noting that the traditional class schedule might be challenging for all people. More evening courses, summer courses, online/distance courses, and compressed or accelerated courses were often suggested as ways to alleviate that.

Some intriguing comments proposed more student-centered education, so that the same course might be taught differently, or even use different curricula, depending on the needs of the students in each session. Another option was to build on BU’s history of interdisciplinary studies to create new and innovative programming.

Many of your comments identified barriers, and also found solutions. Expanding access to childcare, for example, was proposed as a way to open our doors to more parents. Shorter or online-available courses were seen as a way to draw more rural, remote or even out-of-province students.

In general, people believed that these new offerings would augment our existing degree programs. However, many of them would require thinking through new processes and new commitment from faculty and staff.

Clearly, people here at BU believe in the value of education. Just as clearly, there is a genuine desire to share it as widely as possible, with as many members of our community as we can.

Thank you for being a part of this What If. If you missed it, or if you have additional thoughts, you can continue to participate below.

  • Please help us understand the context of your answers and categorize them with some basic information about your relationship with BU. This is optional, however you must still click SUBMIT at the bottom of the page to send us your answers.