After five years of no student enrollment, UFV Senate has approved to suspend the school of social work and human service’s substance abuse counselling certificate for two years.
The suspension will allow the department to review the program and decide whether to discontinue offering it all together or revise it and bring it back into regular programming.
“Basically, this is a program that has really had low enrollment since 2011/12,” said Peter Gellar, UFV’s vice-provost and associate vice-president academic. “It was still on the books, but there were only a couple students a year, it’s not a very robust program.”
It’s unclear why the program has seen such low interest, but Gellar noted that it could likely be due to similarities between the certificate and other more popular programs with the school of social work.
“The needs in terms of addictions and addictions counseling are quite broad perhaps, and dealt with through social work and the other credential we have,” he said.
The future of the certificate, along with the department’s other programs, will be discussed by a social work and human advisory committee that includes representatives from relevant employers in the social work and human services professions at a community forum this month. To help increase employment opportunities for students, Gellar noted that changes to the certificate could include offering it as a post-baccalaureate certificate or a graduate certificate.
“They’re looking at what actually is in the curriculum and how it might best meet the employment needs of students,” he said. “Out of that, they’re hoping to get some feedback from actually potential employers, those who are working in the field.”
With fentanyl overdoses at an all-time high in British Columbia, Gellar said that the program is still relevant and in demand locally, but needs to be altered to be successful.
“One would think that this is really an important area, substance abuse counseling, given where we’re at in the province with a crisis in substance abuse and the effects of it,” he said. “I think it’s not saying that we shouldn’t be addressing that, but this existing program unfortunately clearly has not been.”
The suspension will be in place for the next two years, and a decision on whether to reopen a revised version of the certificate or discontinue it altogether will be presented to Senate then.
With files from Joel Robertson-Taylor