The professional scuba dive instructor program at Capilano University on the Sunshine Coast has been suspended as the faculty of tourism and outdoor recreation attempts to shave five per cent off its annual budget.
Each faculty was told to find five per cent of savings this year to cover shortfalls in the university’s provincial operating grant, which came in $950,000 lower than expected. Capilano University (which includes the Vancouver campus) also lost around $350,000 in contracts since the last budget and must pay negotiated wage increases this year.
“Under the University Act we can’t have a deficit budget. The board is legally required to present a balanced budget to government,” said Sechelt campus dean Jean Bennett.
“So in order to look at doing that, we decided this year to go out to every area in the university and say ‘we need you to look at your own area and you come forward with the recommendations around how we would find five per cent savings.’”
At the Sechelt campus most savings were found by cutting operating expenses, Bennett said. However, the scuba dive instructor program (offered at the local campus through the faculty of tourism and outdoor recreation) decided to cut the scuba course to find their five per cent.
Bennett said the locally developed program has had “very low enrolment” for many years, which prompted the decision.
“We’ve been averaging about 12 to 14 students in the program, and typically in a full program, we’re looking at 30 to 35 students,” Bennett said. “I think only once in the 10 years we’ve offered scuba has it been over 20 students.”
Students who wanted to take the course this September have been made aware of the decision to scrap the program, although Bennett noted another scuba dive related course may surface in the future.
“The tourism and outdoor recreation faculty are really trying to look at how they might be able to reorganize and rethink a bunch of the outdoor recreation programming that they do,” Bennett said.
“So it may look very different, but there might be a way for students to still get the professional certifications in scuba in the future.”
Bennett said the other administration cuts at the local campus shouldn’t cause concern for students.
“We made some small reductions in our instructional sections, but it’s unlikely that any of that’s going to really be felt in the community just because of the enrolment patterns here,” Bennett said.
“We have been typically cancelling a couple of classes a year anyway, so it just means we will probably offer less.”
© Coast Reporter