Print Edition: February 18, 2015
UFV’s fashion design diploma has been suspended and will stop accepting applicants as of Fall 2015.
Dean of the college of arts Jacqueline Nolte explains the diploma went through a program review, and its potential discontinuation comes down to a matter of low enrollment.
“[The] program review explicitly stated that the diploma had its purpose,” she says. “They basically said it’s become progressively irrelevant, as degree programs better prepare grads to enter into the labour force, and we’ve seen that with the declining enrollment of the past five years.”
Students currently enrolled in the program will be able to finish, as the courses necessary for completion will be offered until 2016 and some of the more popular lower-level classes will be available to fine arts students as electives.
As it stands, the diploma has three concentrations: textiles, technology, and marketing.
Recent graduate Kassandra Poleshuk, who took the textiles option, says the program helped her to begin her career after she graduated.
“They really did prepare us for the real world, because this is what it’s like,” she says.
While the two-year diploma enrollment dwindles, UFV is looking at restructuring fashion design into an interdisciplinary degree — which may include a business component. Making the program interdisciplinary could increase enrollment, allowing students to incorporate a fashion design minor into their existing degree.
“Any degree being designed these days has to be as flexible as possible to accommodate students from multiple access points,” Nolte says.
She explains that the two-year structure of the program put too much pressure on students. A longer degree similar to the one at Kwantlen Polytechnic University would give them more time to hone their skills.
“We were, as a university, being very demanding of our students, and they were taking tremendous stress to produce a fully-fledged fashion design show at the end of their second year with a portfolio,” Nolte says.
“By comparison, Kwantlen students produce a fashion design show at the end of four years — far more time to refine their skills and be reflective and to build up the lower-level modules as they work.”
However, Poleshuk says while the structure of the program was intense, it prepared her for the harsh reality of the business.
“When you’re in the fashion industry, you’d have to work on your spring collection and [at] the same time [be] thinking of your fall,” she explains.
She notes that half of her class had dropped out by graduation because of the intensity of the program.
“It really does take a certain type of student to work for that because it does put a lot of pressure [on students], but that’s what it is,” she says.
Current student Katalin Toreky-Paziuk says that after Capilano University’s fashion design program was cancelled, her only local option that offered what she was looking for was the diploma at UFV.
“The reason I didn’t go to Kwantlen … is because I was told the closest thing to a textiles program would be here,” she says, “so I didn’t even look at Kwantlen, which is closer to me, because I live in Surrey.”
Nolte notes that a decision about the new interdisciplinary degree will surface within the next year.