Music student Isabel Stanyer was one of dozens of applicants who had to scramble to apply to a different school after Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) announced it wouldn’t be accepting new applications for the music school at its Langley campus.
“We are writing to inform you that the Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020 intakes for the Faculty of Arts, Music programs have been cancelled,” an email that landed last Wednesday said.
“This decision was not taken lightly, and only took place this late in the application cycle due to extenuating circumstances.”
Max Niiranen, a first year voice student from Aldergrove, enrolled Kwantlen’s music program, in part because it would allow him to continue his music studies while living at home.
“I was planning on staying in the area,” Niiranen said.
Niiranen said he may be forced to transfer to another, less conveniently-located music school.
He is concerned about the effect the news will have on the school’s reputation.
Niiranen said he may need to make the move in order to graduate from a music school that has not damaged it’s reputation by making the cuts KPU has.
“That’s going to be larger effect,” Niiranen predicted.
KPU is offering refunds of application fees, or transfers to other courses to affected music students, according to the notice Stanyer received.
A message posted by the Kwantlen Music Students’ Association (KMSA) Facebook page said after meeting with the chair of the music department, the association learned that the Faculty of Arts will be required to cut 25 courses from their 2019-2020 course offerings.
“Of all 21 departments in the Faculty of Arts, music is the only department KPU will be cutting these courses from, meaning that 100 percent of the cuts will be targeted directly at the KPU music program,” the notice said.
In response to a Black Press Media query, the university issued a written statement by Dr. Sal Ferreras, KPU provost and vice president who said the proposed cuts “reflect the unsustainability of the music department’s delivery model in its current format.”
Ferreras said the university faculty of arts was planning a “thorough review of the music degree and diploma programs to seek a more sustainable model for this programming.”
“In the meantime, it was prudent to cancel intakes to allow that review to be conducted,” the statement added.
KMSA president Emma Dotto announced a letter-writing campaign to convince Ferreras, dean of arts Diane Purvey and KPU president Alan Davis to rescind the cuts.
Dotto described the reaction of of the approximately 80 music students at KPU to the news as “shock and anger.”
“Everyone is coming together as a community,” Dotto said.
Leyla Sumeli, a second-year voice major in the Bachelor of Music program, said the potential impact on the music program was “devastating.”
“If auditions stay closed, the program will get smaller and smaller, until the last graduating class leaves in four years, and there are no more music students at KPU,” Sumeli said.
Sumeli said the music program was already taking steps to cut costs before the university froze admissions.
Victoria Parker-Poitras, a third-year music major at Kwantlen, said last fall, the faculty at KPU was informed that the school “was in a small deficit but not to worry because it was being taken care of. Over the course of the semester that small deficit grew into a large deficit.”
Parker-Poitras said KPU has also made cuts to the farrier program, health unit coordinator program, design program and the academic and career advancement program.