UBC's Okanagan campus is paving the way for more Aboriginal people to access a degree program at the University of British Columbia.
The university's Okanagan Senate recently approved the Aboriginal Access Studies (AAS) admissions policy. Through the program, students are provided a variety of supports to succeed at the university level and help build their post secondary capacity.
"Ninety-six per cent of BC Aboriginal secondary school students are not university eligible," says Lyle Mueller, Director of Aboriginal and International Programs and Services. "With only four per cent of Aboriginal high school students being university eligible, Aboriginal Access Studies helps reduce that gap."
The admissions policy now provides for admitting all successful Aboriginal Access Studies students to a degree program, says Adrienne Vedan, Aboriginal Access Advisor and a member of the Okanagan Nation.
"That’s a huge paradigm shift and provides access to a growing underserved segment of the population,” she says.
AAS students take three first-year university courses per term for two to three terms, receive support ranging from cultural to academic and can apply to a degree program with a minimum of six courses, or 18 credits, with a minimum of 60 per cent in each course.
The program supports a diverse range of students varying in ages from 18 to 50, including recent high school graduates, mature students, those who would like additional supports as they step into university life and those whose grades do not reflect their academic potential.
Courses include Indigenous Studies as well as Aboriginal perspective courses – Math 126 and English 114. Also, in partnership with the En’owkin Centre in Penticton, Okanagan language is offered at UBC's Okanagan campus.
“The program has been a great experience for me," says student Cody Tolmie. "I feel as though it has opened me up to my potential as a student and as person as a whole. The way the classes are structured is very helpful, and the staff in the Aboriginal Centre has helped me every step of the way.
“The greatest academic benefit from the Access program has been Math 126," Tolmie says. "Were it not for the specific structure of this class I would be nearly a year behind in my academic career. The program has immersed me in a great multitude of cultures, while truly allowing me to find my own. It has given me not only confidence in my heritage, but also confidence in myself.”
For more information on Aboriginal Access Studies call 1-888-807-8202 or email Adrienne Vedan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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